Last week Brian wrote about how Ford and Ram are still battling it out for overall truck supremacy, and that both are getting dangerously close to the magic 1000 lb ft of factory torque. They just keep making more power, putting bigger components behind the power, and outfitting them so they can haul more and more weight. And while all that strength and power is cool, I think these factory truck wars are stupid because most of the people that own them have no business towing what they are capable of. And despite Brian saying “They’ve been on a serious ramp-up for years, because both sides want to lay claim to being the final say in a pickup truck that doesn’t require a CDL or a move to the medium-duty class to own.” this is not necessarily true. Because of the size of the trucks themselves, and their ability to haul such loads, a lot of states do in fact require a CDL to tow anything more than 10,000 lbs with one.
This is a prime example of “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” It’s like the guy that goes and throws his credit card down at Jegs or Summit and buys everything he needs to bolt a Fox body Mustang together that will run 8’s. You think I’m joking? Hire a shop to put a cage kit in a Fox body and then bolt on an ass load of speed parts and running 8’s is no big deal at all. And the guy who owns it doesn’t need to know a damn thing about driving something that fast to go out and make hits at his local track. These are the guys that oil down the entire track, bounce off walls and each other, or run into the side of a seasoned racers because they don’t understand that the throttle pedal works both ways. People are their own worst enemy.
The same goes for big giant trucks. I live in an area with an insane number of Super Duty Ford trucks. I’m talking a huge percentage of the people around me own them. They haul horse trailers, giant toy hauler RV trailers, gooseneck trailers, and all kinds of stuff. But 90% of the time either the wife or husband is driving it back and forth to work or to grab groceries and haul kids around. That is until the weekend comes along and they stuff a 40 foot toyhauler full of a sand car, quads, motorcycles, food, beer, ice, and enough water and fuel to keep them going for a weekend or longer in the desert. These toy haulers weigh more than 14,000 lbs unloaded. UNLOADED!!! Now before you go all “But RV’s don’t require a CDL Chad!” know that this is true of a lot of states, but NOT all. And because the weights are getting bigger and bigger, some states are changing those laws so that the biggest of RV trailers might require a CDL.
Take the RV trailers out of the equation though. Instead hook a stacker, or 48 foot gooseneck car trailer up to your new F-450. The truck has a GVWR of 14,000 lbs. If your trailer is rated for more than 12,000 you have to have a CDL. And if your trailer doesn’t have a GVWR of more than 10,000 lbs, but you overload it like most racers and weigh over it’s GVWR, you can be in real trouble. And I doubt that most of the folks around me have a clue as to how much their junk all weighs together. And I bet most racers don’t really know either. Who cares how much it weighs when you have a truck that can pull a condo down the street?
It sounds funny to say, but when trucks didn’t have the power to pull too much, or to stop it, we were probably a bit safer than we are now. Sure the trucks are better, but the drivers certainly are not.
So whether a CDL is required or not, the towing capabilities of these new trucks far exceeds the skill and experience level of most of the people pulling trailers with them. How do I know this? Ford developed a system to make backing up a trailer so easy anyone can do it. They did this because drivers said they wanted it. They said they wanted it because they don’t know how to back up trailers. They don’t know how to back up trailers because THEY HAVE NO BUSINESS PULLING ONE!!!
And that’s not the only feature added to these trucks that is squarely aimed at the novice. The exhaust brake every serious truck guy is all happy about? Yeah, not for you. That’s another attempt to keep novices from hurting themselves. Since they have no clue that it takes way longer to stop a 25,000 lbs combined weight than it does to stop the empty 7,000 lb truck, these big trucks need all the help they can get. Having the truck slow itself down when you lift off the throttle is helping save the family of 6 that is riding along in the minivan in front of this giant truck and trailer combo.
There are plenty of examples of people driving things they are not qualified for at any even we go to. You know you can think of dozens of them right off the top of your head. And for some of you reading this, you are exactly the person that should not be driving one of these truck and trailer combos. Buy a 1500 pickup and an open trailer. Throw some tools and stuff in the back of the truck and haul your Camaro to the races. Once you can back that sucker up three blocks, around corners, without backing up and going forward 10 times, you might be ready to move up, but probably not.
Just my 2 cents.