Rough Country News

  • NASCAR Camping World Truck Series heads to Canada for the first time

    Canadian truck lovers are sure to be overjoyed that NASCAR is coming over the border. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will make its Canadian debut at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park just north of Bowmanville, Ontario, this Labor Day weekend. Things kick off Friday, Aug. 30, when drivers will take to the track for a few practice runs that will run through Saturday, but the real fun begins Sunday, when the official races get underway.

    About the track
    Off-road driving enthusiasts won't get to see a lot of dirt flying this weekend, as the Canadian track is paved. The 2.5 mile loop features 10 turns, and it is meant for high-speed action, providing audiences with plenty of thrills. In fact, while the other motorsports tracks at this raceway have been in use, this particular track has not been used since 1961, which only adds to the excitement of the weekend.

    Plenty of action
    For event guests, there are more highlights than seeing drivers racing around the road course, as many competitors' are getting behind the wheels of souped-up trucks that have undergone many truck modifications to make them superior vehicles. Ron Hornaday, a four-time series champion with 11 top-10 finishes and three wins this season, will be the only driver in the competition who has won a road course event, according to Fox News. Saturday will see a few more practice runs before qualifying rounds get underway to determine who will start in which position for Sunday's races.

    Competition heats up
    Speedway Media reports four drivers are looking to turn heads. James Buescher, Jeb Burton, Chad Hackenbract and Ty Dillon will all be competing for the title in the Clarington 200, which will be held just before the Camping World Truck race. Dillon will be sitting in the No. 4 for Fitzpatrick Motorsports, Buescher will drive the No. 24 Dodge for 22 Racing, and Hackenbract will take the helm of No. 27 for Jacomb Motorsports. Burton will be making his debut in the Canadian Tire Series in the No. 7 State Water Heaters Dodge. The news source indicates that each racer is getting behind the wheel of a fierce truck that will be sure to make for an interesting race.

  • Pickup trucks become America's best-selling vehicles

    There's no denying that recent models of pickup trucks have something for every one. With improved handling and driving performance as well as plenty of extra amenities that allow the vehicles to be used in almost any scenario, the automobiles are quickly becoming a favorite of drivers across the U.S. That is especially apparent in the sales figures of pickup trucks.

    USA Today reported sales of pickups could reach more than 2 million in 2013, which would be the first time figures surpassed that mark since 2007, before the recession. If this estimate holds true, pickup trucks would be the best-selling type of vehicle in the U.S. 

    It's safe to say trucks will hit the 2 million mark this year, as the segment saw more than 1.9 million vehicles sold in 2012, and all predictions forecast improved sales throughout 2013. In August alone, the average price of pickup trucks increased compared to the same time last year, as did the number of units sold. Additionally, the individual best-selling models for major brands like Ford, General Motors and Chrysler are all pickup trucks, according to data from Kelley Blue Book. 

    Not only are there more pickup trucks heading to garages across the U.S., but the owners of these vehicles are using them for a wider range of tasks. Construction work and heavy-duty hauling are still completed with the automobiles, in addition to everyday driving by families. In fact, these trucks are frequently being used as the go-to family vehicle, and this everyday use is leading the way for increased sales. 

    The influx of new features also makes pickups more attractive for fans of off-road driving. As amenities like towing capacity, ground clearance and agility are enhanced, many drivers are looking to new models to satisfy their need for off-roading. 

  • Basics of off-roading for beginners

    Off-road driving can be tons of fun, but beginners have a lot to learn. Doing lots of truck or Jeep modifications is a great start to getting your vehicle off-road ready, but that's not all you should take into account before you drive off the pavement.

    Finding the right tires
    More likely than not, the tires that came on your truck or Jeep are better for street driving than traversing the wilderness, so it's important to look into options that are made for off-roading. 4WheelParts.com recommends larger tires that will help you drive over obstacles like logs and rocks with ease. However, depending on the size you want, you may also need to install a lift kit. Plus, just as street tires are no good for off-roading, off-road tires are not meant to be driven on pavement, and too much of this can lead to excess wear.

    Packing the necessary supplies
    Driving through the woods or dune bogging in the desert is not as simple as steering your off-road vehicle into the dirt and hitting the gas pedal. You will need supplies on hand to ensure your trip is safe and fun. Some essential items to have on board include a spare tire and the tools needed to change tires in the field, a fully-charged GPS system, first aid kit and cellphone, according to The Art of Manliness. The site also recommends bringing along a tow rope that is rated to haul the weight of your truck, a vehicle-mounted winch, lift jack, spare gas and lots of extra water.

    Choosing the best weather
    If you have never been off-roading before, you may want to hit the trails on a day with nice weather. If it has rained recently, wait a while for things to dry up before hopping behind the wheel, and choose a day that is at least slightly cloudy. This way you can get used to driving through the wilderness without the sun in your eyes and slick, muddy ground below your tires. After you've gotten accustomed to that, you can try your hand at driving in different conditions. Just make sure you have the proper equipment for mudding or driving through snow or sand, and contingency plans in case of emergencies.

  • Sales of pickup trucks increase in August

    Good news kept coming for the auto industry throughout the month of August. As the final full month of summer came to a close, improving sales - largely thanks to high demand for pickup trucks - gave many automakers a boost. 

    Sales up throughout the industry
    Some of the most prominent and popular manufacturers in the world saw an uptick in sales in August. Brands like Toyota, GM, Ford, Chrysler and Nissan all had sales increases in the double digits, with Toyota leading the way with a 23 percent growth. A large contributor to this was sales of the Toyota Tacoma pickup, which lead all trucks with a 25 percent increase. 

    "The auto industry continues to be a bright spot in the economic recovery," said Bill Fay, Toyota division group vice president. "August capped a great summer for new vehicle sales, and it was Toyota's best month in more than five years." 

    Focus on the future
    Part of the reason the demand for pickup trucks continues to grow is the rebounding state of the construction industry. More home building requires more trucks to haul materials and workers, and the improving housing sector sets off a ripple effect that benefits many brands within the world of automobiles. 

    "It seems like their past challenges are overcome," Karl Brauer, an analyst with Kelley Blue Book, told Fox Business. "What I think is most important is the market is stronger. GM, Ford and Chrysler didn't have as strong a lineup the last time Toyota saw these kinds of sales numbers. For those brands to be selling as well as they are, and for Toyota to be selling as well as it is, the results show that no one brand is dominating this recovery." 

    Ready to go off-roading
    While the fact that no one automaker is standing out among the rest is good news for the industry as a whole, it does pose some challenges for prospective buyers. The multitude of options makes it difficult to choose one off-road vehicle that can satisfy a driver's needs on and off the pavement. 

    As a result, many individuals who have their hearts set on off-road driving are making their own truck modifications to create their dream vehicle. These truck mods may put a slight dent in your wallet, but there are many ways to efficiently upgrade an automobile with the accessories you want and need.

  • What are truck buyers looking for in their purchases?

    When it comes to buying an off-road vehicle, there are a lot of elements drivers have to consider. A recent study from the NADA Used Car Guide aimed to sort through these qualities, and it asked truck shoppers to rank the factors that played a role in their decision-making process. 

    Truck buyers had similar desires to those who drive standard cars, albeit some of the qualities were more important than others. On the whole, survey respondents said that the factors with the greatest impact on their decision were quality and dependability, brand, fuel economy, vehicle design, and versatility and utility. Also highly ranked were the towing and payload capacity of a truck, its safety features and the engine power. 

    Fuel economy, which was the top concern for buyers in last year's survey, did not carry the same weight in 2013. That is partly because gas prices have fallen slightly, and it may also be a sign of some of the diesel engines and alternative fuel vehicles rumored to be joining the world of trucks. 

    "While higher gasoline prices and stiffer federal regulations have raised the profile of fuel economy over the past few years, the survey results clearly indicate that car and light-truck shoppers are looking for a trouble-free ownership experience above all else," said Jonathan Banks, an analyst for the NADA Used Car Guide.

    If buyers were considering a new car instead of a used vehicle, they had some more qualities to take into consideration. For example, about 58 percent claimed that the ownership cost, which includes everything from insurance fees to ongoing maintenance, plays a significant role in making the final decision. Many fans of off-roading also had to consider expenses related to making truck modifications, such as the cost of purchasing and installing a lift kit on newer models. 

  • GMC launches app to make towing easier

    Driving an older car may suit your budget, and the alterations you've made to a vehicle over time could fit your needs, but that doesn't mean it isn't without its challenges. One of the many obstacles that some motorists may face could be as basic as not having enough information about the limits of a vehicle. 

    Anyone who has been using the same off-road vehicle for years, or who has purchased a pre-owned truck, may not have the owner's manual or other essential information about the automobile. To help drivers get a firm grasp on their vehicle's capabilities, GMC recently launched an app called the GMC Trailering Guide that provides information regarding towing. The application is designed to give drivers tidbits about proper towing procedures, what safety equipment is needed and more, PickupTrucks.com reports. 

    Other advantageous aspects of the new app include videos on the best techniques for making modifications, insight into how the vehicle technology works and basic information on the power and performance drivers can expect from their GMC automobiles. 

    This program could be useful to anyone from first-time truck owners to off-roading experts. With comprehensive information regarding things like hitches and step-by-step instructions, it will be easier for beginners to get involved with the world of off-road driving. For those who are not familiar with some of the key ideas and terms that go along with towing or heavy-duty work, the application can be tremendously helpful. 

    The GMC Trailering Guide is currently available for free download on any iOS-based device. Whether someone has misplaced an owner's manual or simply doesn't know where to begin as they gain an interest in off-roading, this program can provide some support and information necessary for safe and successful truck mods. 

  • Prevent rust on your off-road vehicle

    Sometimes keeping an off-road vehicle looking good is as important as maintaining a high level of performance. When you're constantly going mudding or tackling tough terrain, however, it can be difficult to keep your vehicle in prime condition. Consistent cleaning and frequent maintenance can go a long way toward making the exterior of a machine shine, but drivers often have to go the extra mile to prevent rust from building up on their rides. 

    How it happens
    At its core, rust is just the result of the chemical reaction between oxygen and water. This isn't a problem for many drivers, as the paint protects the metal frame of a vehicle, but over time scratches or nicks in an automobile may allow for rusting to occur. 

    As a result, the places most susceptible to rust are the ones where water may build up. This is traditionally restricted to spots like the inside of doors, which frequently have condensation settle on them, or the area behind the wheels on the bottom of the automobile, where slush and ice can accrue in the colder months. Motorists who participate in off-road driving may find that the bottom of their vehicle can become a target for rust, as it is usually skimming mud, creeks and other bodies of water for an extended period of time. 

    Preventing rust build up 
    The first step toward stopping rust build up before it starts is keeping your eyes peeled for scratches in a vehicle's paint. Touch-up paint can be used to patch these smaller issues, and it's a good idea to keep a bit of the paint on hand, especially if you're frequently off-roading and encounter rocks, gravel, debris and other obstacles that could harm the exterior of an automobile. 

    Even if you're watching out for cracks in the paint, rust could still be developing on the underside of a vehicle. Drivers who are dedicated to their rides may want to have an undercoat applied to the bottom. Yahoo reported that these rubberized coatings can seal the area against corrosion. If rust has already started forming, this step won't do much good, but it could help extend the life and enhance the look of newer vehicles. 

    No matter what the age of your automobile, you should be consistently washing and waxing it. Most of the area that you will be caring for will already be covered with paint, and thus less likely to begin rusting, but getting into the pattern of cleaning the truck or Jeep after off-road adventures can help avoid problems. During this process, be sure to open all doors, the hood and the trunk of the vehicle to check for hidden problem spots. At this time you can check the undercarriage and draining spots to make sure there are no budding issues that are breeding rust. 

    Watch out for winter
    Rust can be particularly harmful in the winter, when a vehicle comes into contact with massive amounts of salt placed on the roads to increase traction. The salt speeds up the rusting process, so it is important to pay attention to rust prevention as a regular part of vehicle maintenance. 

    You should be cleaning a vehicle somewhat frequently throughout the winter season. Ridding a vehicle of salt that would otherwise sit on the exterior is incredibly important - especially if you are not off-roading as often as the rest of the year. Long breaks between drives can leave plenty of time for rust to wreak havoc on a vehicle and could cause preventable damage. 

  • Pickup trucks cause concern with safety ratings

    There are few aspects of a car that strike a nerve quite like its safety features. These elements can set a vehicle apart from its competitors and even save lives in the long run, which makes them extremely important to consider when shopping around for an automobile. 

    Safety gets tricky with pickups 
    The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has made a name for itself by testing how well vehicles can withstand crashes. Testing includes a comprehensive check of how the side, front and roof withstand crashes, among other areas. Unfortunately for many pickup owners, the vehicles were found to have the worst ratings with regard to rollover accidents - but that doesn't have to spell disaster for motorists. The roof strength is just one aspect of truck safety, and there are many things drivers can do to make sure they are taking advantage of each and every safety option. 

    Not only is your personal safety affected by the extras included on a truck, but your wallet is as well. According to PickupTrucks.com, full-size models generally cost more to insure than other vehicles, which may prompt some cash-strapped drivers to gravitate toward weaker policies with less coverage.

    Top models for safety
    When it comes to the vehicles that roll off the production line ready to handle anything, a few stand out above the rest. The IIHS rated three models as Top Safety Picks for 2013, including the Ford F-150, Honda Ridgeline and Toyota Tundra. All three received ratings of "good" across the board in the crash tests, placing them among the safest trucks on the market.  Also receiving solid marks were the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500, which garnered marks ranging from "good" to "acceptable" and "marginal." 

    On the plus side, all of the tested models achieved ratings of "good" or "acceptable" when it came to the head restraints and seats. That's positive news for drivers who may be concerned with personal comfort and safety, as the security of the individual could contribute to a better experience when dealing with rough obstacles encountered when off-roading. 

    Drivers should keep one important piece of information in mind: Rollover crash test ratings only apply to crew cab models, many of which are two-wheel drive vehicles. This essentially means many pickup trucks on the road are not even tested by the IIHS. Despite this fact, the rollover test is one of the most important for vehicles, and it can make a huge difference to drivers on the pavement or the trails. 

    Truck modifications can lead to better safety
    Despite the tumultuous nature of safety ratings, there are some things motorists can do to make sure their vehicles are secure, no matter what type of truck mods are being done. Special off-road driving harnesses can be installed to keep the driver and passengers securely in the vehicle when traversing any type of terrain. 

    Additionally, you should be taking steps to make sure all of your truck modifications are done properly so as to avoid safety problems. For example, installing a lift kit could affect the steering and handling of an off-road vehicle, and to avoid this, spend time getting used to how the machine drives. If your lift kit leads you to install larger tires on the vehicle, you may also experience uncomfortable or difficult driving. If that is the case, it may also be beneficial to invest in tools like steering stabilizers, which can lead to smoother performance and a safer driving environment for you and your passengers. 

  • Spotlighting some Toyota Tacoma truck mods

    It's never too late to make some truck mods. Drivers of any model truck have an opportunity to make changes that can turn a standard vehicle into a prime off-roading machine. A few of the end results may even get spotlighted in an effort to show the wide range of adjustments that can be made to a truck, which is exactly what happened to one driver and his beloved truck thanks to The Pacific Daily News. 

    Highlighting one 2005 Toyota Tacoma
    It's hard not to notice Shawn Aquino's revamped 2005 Toyota Tacoma, and thanks to a recent inside look from The Pacific Daily News, there is some public info on just what went into making over this truck.

    The biggest change came from installing a lift kit - a 3-inch body lift and another 6-inch lift kit to add 9 inches of total clearance. Aquino then added 20-inch wheels to provide even more space between the ground and the underside of his truck. These changes comprised the bulk of the $7,000 that Aquino dropped on truck mods and other extras. 

    "It gives me the clearance but not the flex I need," Aquino told the publication. "I can't really do any crawling, because it won't get the proper angles without having it tip over. I'm going to be buying all the parts rights now and doing a solid axle swap in the front and changing out the rear axle too, running bigger tires to make it a little more capable." 

    This is a predictable development, as many drivers have to make some truck modifications to deal with the effects of a lift kit. However, this is just a single change among many common alterations, and there are other mods that can enhance a vehicle. 

    Popular truck modifications
    Installing a Toyota lift kit is arguable the most popular ways to turn a standard truck into an off-road vehicle. However, it is just one of the many options drivers have when looking to customize their rides. 

    Those drivers who have already installed a lift kit and swapped standard tires for larger ones may want to consider adding running boards and grille guards. Not only do these accessories create a rugged appearance, but they also serve a practical purpose. Whether it's making it easier to get in and out of the vehicle or protecting the exterior from damage, there are numerous benefits that can arise from investing in this gear - and these options don't have to break the bank, either. 

  • Cars.com selects top trucks and SUVs for tailgating

    The arrival of fall brings plenty of good news for people across the U.S., but for many, it means only one thing: football. Even so, the cooler autumn weather is also excellent for off-roading, meaning that many drivers need to find ways to blend the two pastimes. That's easy to do with the help of some popular automobiles, as they boast a number of features that are great for off-road driving, tailgating and everything in between.

    "With football season comes the return of fans to parking lots across the nation to partake in tailgating festivities," said Patrick Olsen, the editor-in-chief of Cars.com. "The ultimate tailgate requires the perfect tailgating car, so we took a look at a variety of new cars to determine which ones have factory-installed features to take the drama out of the pre-game party." 

    Ram 1500 named the best 
    Cars.com selected the Ram 1500 as the top vehicle for tailgating, adding yet another accolade to the long list of awards the truck has already racked up. Not only is the Ram tough enough to handle itself on and off the gridiron, but it comes with a host of extras that can enhance the tailgating experience. One new feature allows drivers to lower the truck to parking height to easily access the truck bed - and all of the grilling gear you've stored there. Even if you've already installed a Dodge lift kit, this capability can help to make it more manageable to reach all of your equipment. 

    The truck bed also boasts a few extras that should make it easier to handle anything from tailgating to off-roading. Motorists can choose to purchase a RamBox package that includes weatherproof storage containers that fit snugly into the back of a truck. All together, these boxes can hold up to 280 cans of your beverage of choice - plus ice. Several tie-down points allow owners to securely place grills, tables or any other equipment in the bed. More technology-based features, such as Uconnect Wi-Fi, allow users to tap into a private network - which is great for things like checking in on other games or getting directions to your parking spot. 

    Each of these features goes a long way toward making tailgating a smoother and more enjoyable experience. However, they can also be used to make off-roading safer and easier. The impressive cargo space is ideal for storing camping equipment, tools and spare tires. 

    Other top vehicles
    The Ram 1500 wasn't the only vehicle to earn praise for its tailgating abilities. Cars.com also recognized automobiles like the Chevrolet Suburban, GMC Acadia and Honda Ridgeline for their large cargo spaces, comfortable passenger seating, excellent stereo sound systems and plenty of safety features. Not every vehicle is as keenly catered to tailgating as the Ram 1500, but these options are ideal for motorists who need to blend practical use, off-roading and other recreational activities into one automobile. 

    Enhance your own ride
    Even if you drive a different model vehicle, you can add a few truck or Jeep modifications to make it well suited for everything from off-road driving to tailgating. For example, installing towing hooks may come in handy if you're looking to bring a trailer to a tailgate, and it can also be used as you head out for off-roading experiences. This kind of all-purpose use makes it a worthy option for any driver looking for ways to enhance a vehicle. 

    Drivers should also be sure to check on their emergency kits to guarantee they have everything they need to stay safe, whether they're in the wilderness or a stadium parking lot. Things like a first aid kit, basic tool set, jumper cables and other emergency supplies are must-haves for any adventure. 

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