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Rough Country News

  • Are you keeping up with summer maintenance?

    Sometimes you can get so wrapped up in making truck mods that you forget to focus on standard vehicle maintenance. However, it is essential to be constantly watching different aspects of a truck to ensure everything is functioning in a safe and proper manner. Even doing a few simple tasks throughout the summer can go a long way toward preserving your truck and keeping you behind the wheel for longer periods of time. 

    Here are a few areas of maintenance that needs to be done on a consistent basis throughout the summer: 

    Replace your fluids 
    You should be replacing all of the fluids that keep your truck running, from engine coolant to oil to wiper fluid. Each of these liquids has their own job, so stocking up at regular intervals can have a system running smoothly while making sure you have a safe driving experience. A good rule of thumb is to flush out and replace coolant when you go in for an oil change - every 3,000 miles or three months, in general - and wiper fluid should be checked before you head out off-roading. The last thing you want is mud to splatter your windshield, only to find you have no way of cleaning it, and doing this simple check can help you avoid that scenario. 

    Check the tires
    Extreme weather changes and high temperatures can wreak havoc on your tire pressure. That means you should be monitoring your tires throughout the summer, pumping them up whenever necessary. You may even want to switch from all-season tires to summer tires to get the maximum efficiency from your vehicle, but keeping the traditional all-season gear on a truck won't be detrimental. 

    Pressure isn't the only thing you need to look out for. Tire treads can be worn down after a long winter and multiple off-roading adventures, which makes it particularly important to examine the treads to ensure there is an adequate grip. Use the penny test to check the tread on your tires. All you need for this is a standard penny. Simply place the penny in the grooves of a tire - as long as part of Abraham Lincoln's head is always at least partially covered, the treads are deep enough to be effective. has outlined the ways drivers can use different coins to find tread depth, so if you want to make sure your tires have enough grip to keep you safe on rocks, sand or any other terrain, you can still check on it yourself. 

    Clean and wax
    The happenings under the hood are important, but that doesn't mean you should ignore the exterior of your truck. For example, sudden rain showers can harm the outside, so waxing a vehicle regularly may help prevent rust and water spots while also extending the life of a paint job. Car wax also deflects the sun's rays, allowing you to avoid fading even in the hottest of conditions. 

    You should be washing your truck frequently in the summer, as well - especially if you make it a point to go off-road driving whenever you can. Even the most basic wash can get rid of dirt and debris left over from an adventure, which preserves the exterior and ensures you aren't allowing this mess to infiltrate the systems under the hood. 

    Have an emergency kit
    You should always have an emergency kit stored in your vehicle. The contents of this package may change with the seasons, but good things to keep on hand include basic tools, a flashlight, jumper cables and recovery straps, just to name a few. It's also a smart idea to have a few pick-me-ups for you kept in the kit, as well. Bottled water and nonperishable snacks can be a tremendous help without taking up a lot of space. If you find yourself stuck for an extended period of time under the hot sun, you'll be happy you have this nourishment on hand. 

  • Finding the best off-road trails

    Unless you own a large tract of land, you'll need to find trails to take your Jeep or other truck off-roading. If you're a seasoned off-road driver, you probably know all the best spots already, but those who are new to the sport will have to do a bit of research to track down the best trails in their area. Here are a few tips for finding the best trails to take your vehicle with all of its truck modifications out for a spin in the wilderness:

    Pay attention during everyday driving
    When you're shuttling the kids to school or commuting to work, keep your eyes peeled if you live in a more suburban or rural area. There may be trails that you've simply never seen before right around the corner. You can try taking different roads than you usually travel, as this could expose you to new areas and lead you to a diamond in the rough. When you find one, make sure your off-road vehicle is ready for action and head out for a fun adventure.

    Ask your friends
    If any of your friends or family members love off-road driving as well, they might have an inside scoop on a hot trail that you're sure to love. The benefits of getting references from people you know are two-fold. First, they have at least somewhat of an idea of the experience you're looking for when you get behind the wheel, so they won't bother telling you about a mud bogging spot that you wouldn't enjoy. Second, since you know them, you don't have to think twice about their opinion. If a friend tells you he or she experienced a lot of problems with a certain off-roading locale, it's more likely a genuine sentiment.

    Go online
    There are countless resources for off-roading enthusiasts trying to find trails. You can check out forums dedicated to the sport, which will allow you to browse through other users' questions and answers as well as posting your own to get specific feedback. The National Park Service website is another valuable resource, as it can provide information about whether or not certain parks allow recreational vehicles to leave the roads. The same holds true for state parks and other wilderness areas. It's always best to make sure that off-roading is OK before hitting the trails to avoid problems.

  • Chevy strives to match Ford's pickups

    When it comes to the auto industry, there's nothing wrong with a little healthy competition. That is especially true in the case of pickup trucks, as this segment has been dominated in the past several years by the F-series from Ford. However, things have started to change. Slowly but surely, other manufacturers are creating vehicles that can compete with Ford, and the reigning king of pickups may have some challengers for the top spot in the near future. 

    Ford still leads the way
    For now, Ford is still No. 1 in the world of pickup trucks. The F-series sold more than 60,000 vehicles in July alone, which is a growth of 22.6 percent compared to July 2012. Much of this growth comes from the re-energized construction industry, which needs trucks to carry out heavy-duty work, as well as fans of off-roading who want a top vehicle that they can make truck mods to. 

    The outlook from Chevy
    Although Ford remains the top seller, its lead is shrinking. Not only has Chevrolet introduced vehicles like the Ram 1500, which many rated as the best pickup of the past model year, but the brand is also seeing its total sales increase. In the month of July, Chevy moved more than 42,000 pickups in the U.S. alone. This is lower than Ford's total, but it is also an increase of 45.2 percent compared to last year - which is a significantly larger increase than its rival. 

    "Clearly there's a lot of customers coming in right now being driven in by our great new pickup trucks, so I think we're probably just getting a lot more traffic than our competitors in the last month or so," Don Johnson, vice president of U.S. sales and service, told Bloomberg Businessweek

    Could Toyota be next? 
    While Chevrolet has made major strides to put itself on the same level as Ford, other automakers have begun turning their attention to the world of heavy-duty pickup trucks. One such brand is Toyota, which is currently revamping its trucks to compete with the American-made options. 

    Toyota recently introduced the redesigned Tundra to challenge Ford and Chevrolet. The 2014 version of the truck boasts several special features that help to make the vehicle a more serious threat to the top sellers, including a towing capacity that surpasses 10,000 pounds, improved fuel efficiency and a more powerful engine, Investor Place reports. 

  • Ford turns to eco-friendly practices for its truck production

    When you think of pickup trucks, sustainability doesn't usually come to the forefront of your mind. That may be all about to change, however, as Ford is incorporating some eco-friendly materials into its upcoming lineup of F-Series pickup trucks. 

    Ford's new processes
    Ford recently announced that it would adopt a new practice as part of the production of its F-Series pickup trucks. Instead of the talc material once used in the electrical harnesses of its trucks, the automaker will be employing rice hulls to do the job. These hulls, which are a byproduct of rice grain, will be used to reinforce plastic used throughout the trucks. 

    At least 45,000 pounds of rice hulls will be used in the first year of production alone. All of the natural products will be sourced from farms in Arkansas and are part of a process created by RheTech, an automotive supplier. The end goal was to create a product that would be safer for the environment without sacrificing the toughness and rugged qualities that Ford drivers have come to expect. 

    "We developed this resin specifically for Ford over the last three years, working with the automaker closely, including in all phases of material qualification," said David Preston, director of business development for RheTech. "The whole process has been a rewarding success for both Ford and RheTech, which can add yet another natural-fiber based product to our RheVision line."

    In addition to the rice hulls, Ford will be using recycled cotton, soybeans, recycled tires and recycled plastic bottles for other sections of the trucks. In fact, Ford claims that just one 2014 F-150 truck will have the equivalent of 10 pairs of jeans or 31 T-shirts integrated into its body. These products will be used in seat cushions, carpets and plastic liners throughout the truck, and none of the changes will impact the way in which drivers make truck modifications down the line. 

    Making a difference
    Most of the efforts surrounding eco-friendly vehicles go toward improving fuel economy. While that is certainly a focus for Ford, these new manufacturing processes will allow the automaker to start making a difference before the trucks even leave the production facility.

    As the most popular truck in the U.S., the F-Series sells more than 600,000 models each year - leaving a lot of room for environmentally sound practices to make a positive impact. If this round of green processes is successful, Ford will likely expand the use of rice hulls and other products for future trucks. 

    "The 2014 F-Series exemplifies our continued efforts to use recycled content in our vehicles," said John Viera, Ford's global director of sustainability and vehicle environmental matters. "We can have a greater impact in this case because of the size and sales volume of this product."

    Don't let up when off-roading
    These positive sustainable practices center around upcoming Ford F-Series trucks, but even drivers who frequently get behind the wheel of older models can do their part to help the environment - without sacrificing the fun that goes along with off-road driving.

    An easy way to embrace eco-friendly practices with your off-road vehicle is by taking care of the nature and trails that you drive through in your experiences. Don't litter while driving and do your best to avoid harming the land surrounding the trails. This includes taking care when you pull over so as not to damage the wilderness and cleaning up any synthetic materials that may spill into nature in the event of an issue. 

  • Colorado beckons off-road drivers

    Few places in the world can please as many visitors as Colorado can. The Centennial State is home to big cities, quiet mountain towns and plenty of parks that protect the Rocky Mountain environment. It's in these quieter spots off-roading enthusiasts can find some of the best driving trails in the U.S., making the state a can't-miss destination for drivers hoping to traverse the most amazing routes in the country. 

    Why Colorado? 
    Colorado has its own off-roading motto: "Stay the Trail." Although some drivers may feel the urge to head deep into the unknown wilderness during their adventures across the state, there's no need - the trails winding throughout Colorado provide plenty of challenges and rewarding experiences for those who manage to cross them. 

    Those who plan on participating in off-road driving in Colorado should be aware of a few rules the state has in place to regulate the experience. There is a noise limit which may impact power output, but otherwise most of the regulations revolve around keeping off-road vehicles on designated trails and not harming the vegetation that surrounds the worn-down paths. 

    While you can find excellent off-road driving locations throughout the state, there are a few trails that continue to receive praise from those who have experience them. 

    The Silverton Trails
    Many of Colorado's off-roading trails stretch back to the days when mining in the Rocky Mountains was a common sight. These routes, once filled with workers and machinery, are now dedicated to trucks and Jeeps that make the journey to the land. Hundreds of miles of these trails are set among the San Juan Mountains, a section of the Rockies set in the southwest corner of Colorado. 

    According to, Silverton, which was once a mining town, is a great place to set up a base camp. From there, you can choose to test your truck modifications on any number of trails that surround the area. Paths like the Engineer Pass and Alpine Loop are favorites of visitors and locals alike, as they take drivers through some of the most scenic areas of Colorado while still offering plenty of challenges for those who like dune bashing. At some points in these trails you will hit elevations of more than 12,000 feet above sea level and be forced to use all of your knowledge to handle steep hills, rocky sections and rushing waterways that are found in the dozens of miles of trails. 

    Metberry Gulch
    If you enjoy pushing your off-road vehicle over tough rock passes, then the Metberry Gulch route might be for you. Located in central Colorado, this trail is about 4.5 miles long and transitions between fairly easy sections that anyone can drive to more difficult areas. As you progress through the path, you'll encounter sharp turns, steep hills and plenty of awesome scenery. The one section that usually proves to be the most challenging is what is known as the Rock Slab, a steep, flat rock that requires vehicles to find the perfect speed if drivers don't want to slide while crossing it. 

    At the end of the Metberry Gulch route lies the South Platte River. This doesn't have to be the end of your journey, however, as the nearby trails of Hackett Gulch and Longwater Gulch can be easily accessed to extend the experience. Much like the area surrounding the Silverton Trails, the land around Metberry Gulch and its neighboring trails is filled with wild animals, lush vegetation and towering mountains that make for a unique off-roading environment.

  • Chrysler announces plans to unveil new Ram truck

    When the 19th Annual Woodward Dream Cruise kicks off in mid-August, truck aficionados will have more to honor than just the regular celebration of the auto industry. In addition to the classic car show, this year's event will include the reveal of Ram's latest pickup truck - one that is rumored to be an updated version of the Power Wagon. 

    Unveiling the new Ram
    Chrysler will be present at the Woodward Dream Cruise to show off more than 70 of its latest vehicles, but the one that may have everyone talking is shrouded in mystery. The manufacturer's Ram truck brand will introduce its newest design as part of the event, showing off the concept in what is being hailed as the very first vehicle debut in the history of the Dream Cruise. 

    The actual unveiling will take place Aug. 17 at 10 a.m. on a lot Chrysler has rented out for the event. AutoWeek reported that Bob Hegbloom and Joe Dohner, two of the heads of the Ram truck brand, will be on hand for the big reveal, along with Ryan Freidlinghaus, who is the owner and host of "West Coast Customs." 

    According to Automotive News, although Chrysler hasn't revealed a lot of information about the new truck, some clues can be pulled from the event itself. Because the rally is catered toward fans of muscle cars and high-performance vehicles, it's likely the Chrysler offering will be similar in style. If this holds true, it will be the first high-performance pickup from the automaker since it ended production of the Ram SRT in 2006, the news source reported.

    The Dream Cruise
    Billed as the world's largest one-day auto event, The Dream Cruise is a special occurrence that features more than 40,000 vintage cars. It takes place on suburban Detroit's Woodward Avenue along a 16-mile stretch, giving the thousands of attendees plenty of room to drive. Many restored pickups and impressive truck modifications are sure to be on display, and they can provide a worthy primer for the big Ram reveal. 

    The Ram won't be the only new truck on display at The Dream Cruise. Ford has plans to show off a new specialty version of the F-150 called the Tremor, as well as the SVT Raptor, which aims to be a top off-roading option. 

  • 2014 F-150 can run on natural gas

    Many drivers are on the lookout for ways they can improve their truck's performance without emptying their wallet. While certain truck mods are ideal for these kinds of improvements, there are other instances where you need to go straight to the source. That's why many manufacturers are doing their part to make trucks and SUVs eco-friendly, including the latest announcement from Ford, which detailed how 2014 models of the F-150 will have the ability to run on compressed natural gas (CNG). 

    About CNG
    The 2014 Ford F-150 will have all of the capabilities drivers have come to expect from the manufacturer, including a gas tank that can handle traditional fuel. However, the truck will also run on CNG - the only half-ton pickup to be able to do so. CNG-ready trucks can stretch one tank of gas into as many as 750 miles of driving, Ford claims. 

    "Businesses and fleet customers have been asking Ford to make F-150 available with CNG capability to take advantage of the fuel's low price and clean emissions," said Jon Coleman, manager of Ford fleet sustainability and technology. "With the money saved using CNG, customers start to see payback on their investment in as little as 24 to 36 months." 

    Ford embraces sustainability
    This move to CNG-friendly vehicles is just the latest in a series of sustainability efforts for Ford. While using CNG as fuel is a first in the world of trucks, it is the eighth such model from the American automaker. The brand also has a variety of hybrids and other alternative-fuel vehicles that are viable options for many drivers in the U.S. 

    "We're almost halfway to our company-wide goal of deploying 15,000 alternative-fuel vehicles by the end of year 2018," said Jerome Webber, vice president of Ford's global fleet operations. "Vehicles such as the CNG F-350s from Ford have helped us avoid purchasing 7.7 million gallons of gasoline over the past five years while reducing our fleet's emissions." 

    Fans of off-road driving may not be convinced that these alternative fuels will provide the power they need to beat any off-roading obstacle. However, they may be happily surprised to learn the initial judgments surrounding these new F-150s are that they are the same high-quality automobiles Ford drivers have come to expect, and the type of fuel used won't impact the type of truck mods motorists can make. 

  • An expert weighs in on common mistakes made when installing lift kits

    Lift kits are one of the most common ways to prime a vehicle for off-road driving. For someone new to the world of off-roading, it can be daunting to jump right in and purchase a lift kit, as there are a number of questions that need to be answered to avoid making a costly mistake. 

    To get the inside scoop on some of the most common mistakes made when installing a lift kit, we turned to one of the experts at Rough Country. Keith Lovins has been working within the off-roading industry at Rough Country for almost nine years, and much of his expertise comes from working as a new parts designer and quality manager. Lovins currently works as a technical writer, so he definitely knows his stuff when it comes to making any type of Jeep or truck modifications. 

    Here is what Lovins had to say about some frequent questions or misconceptions that drivers may have on their minds: 

    What tools should a driver have on hand as they start installing a lift kit? 
    There are few things more annoying than starting to install a lift kit, only to find that you don't have the proper tools to complete the job. Not only can this lead to half-completed tasks that keep you off the roads, but trying to finish the installation without the right equipment is unsafe. Lovins recommends all drivers have a floor jack and jack stands, a drill and drill bits, a reciprocating saw, screwdrivers, pry bars, WD-40 and a socket and wrench set in standard sizes of 1/4-inch through 1-inch. 

    Will installing a lift kit prevent drivers from making other modifications down the road? 
    Drivers new to off-roading may be hesitant about installing a lift kit because they believe it will impact other plans they have for a truck or Jeep. This kind of misinformation could lead to owners making other alterations to a ride that don't have the same immediate effect lifting does. 

    However, lift kits are usually just the first taste of truck mods. It allows the driver to make several similar changes to the exterior of a vehicle, many of which work seamlessly with the lift kit to provide a better driving experience. 

    "Most of the time it is only the start of modifications done to the vehicle," Lovins said. "Once a lift kit is installed, then the customer is going to want other accessories like fender flares, extra lights, [a] winch, bumpers, gears, tube steps or skid plates." 

    Are certain lift kits better suited to a style of driving, such as a better option for mudding, desert driving, etc.? 
    Rough Country kits are split into three categories: economy, standard or trail riding, and rock crawling or heavy off-road kits. Each of these styles is ideal for a certain type of driving, and owners should consider what their vehicle will be used for prior to making a purchase. 

    Economy kits lift a vehicle between 1.5 and 3 inches, and are mainly catered toward drivers who want a bigger tire size but will mainly be driving on the streets. The next level up is the standard kits. These lift a vehicle 4 to 5 inches and can be driven on pavement or for light trail riding on weekends. 

    Those individuals who want to get serious about off-roading will be drawn to the rock crawling or heavy off-road kits. 

    "We have rock crawling long arms kit that are designed for performance off-road use, and are still able to be driven on the road," Lovins explained. "This customer is going to install roll cages, [a] winch, bumpers, lockers and bigger ring gears and pinions to get the most performance he can out of that vehicle."

    Should drivers purchase shock absorbers, brake upgrades or any other accessories with a lift kit? 
    "All of our lift kits already come with new shock absorbers," Lovins said. "They do not need to purchase any another accessory with the lift kit to function correctly ... [but] there are many upgrades that can be added to the lift kit, like brake lines, sway bar disconnects or steering stabilizers." 

    What is the most important thing drivers should keep in mind throughout the process of shopping, buying and installing a lift?
    Lovins believes drivers should pay special attention to what size tires they will need once they install a lift kit. Some kits allow for the use of stock tires, while others require larger wheelers for more clearance. This will also impact the bottom line, so taking these details into account can help drivers stay within budget.

  • GM pickups break barriers with latest safety ratings

    Safety is of paramount importance to all drivers, especially if you make it point to take a vehicle off-roading whenever possible. The combination of potentially dangerous terrain, heavy-duty equipment and unpredictable situations makes it essential to have top-of-the-line safety features. Whether these amenities are extras that you tack on as part of truck modifications or come included on the automobile, they certainly require some additional consideration as you go about shopping for a vehicle or updating one. 

    Drivers who are particularly concerned about safety may want to look into some of the new pickup trucks from General Motors. The 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Chevrolet Silverado High Country 1500, GMC Sierra 1500 and GMC Sierra Denali 1500 all received a five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. All of these vehicles share the same general components, which explains the similar high scores across the board. 

    Five-star ratings for GM
    These four pickups are the first trucks to achieve the top five-star rating from the NHTSA since the organization changed its testing program in 2011. All vehicles now undergo extensive crash testing that continues to evaluate how they perform in front, side and rear crashes, as well as in rollover accidents. They are also judged based on the safety features and preventative technologies that come included in each model. 

    "Safety is as important to truck buyers as it is to car buyers," said Gay Kent, general director of Vehicle Safety and Crashworthiness for GM. "Silverado and Sierra set a benchmark for pickup truck safety by offering a full array of advanced features designed to protect occupants before, during and after a collision." 

    Features included
    A few of the features included on the upcoming GM models should make fans of pickup trucks take notice. At the center of the protection efforts are the high-steel boxed frames used on each of the models, which creates a strong and secure cab for drivers. Other elements, such as improved seat belts and air bags, also contribute to a safer interior. 

    In addition, a number of advanced amenities have helped to enhance these GM trucks. As part of crash avoidance systems, a new Safety Alert Seat uses vibrations to warn drivers of potential dangers in traffic. Similarly, the vehicle will warn passengers when it is approaching an obstacle, such as another car, too quickly, while a Lane Departure Warning notifies the driver when the truck goes over a lane line at high speeds. 

    Those who plan on doing some off-road driving in the truck will appreciate the four-wheel drive with antilock brakes, stability control designed to kick in when towing heavy loads, and OnStar technology, which can be accessed even when lost on a trail. 

  • Protect against the growing trend of truck theft

    It may not be pleasant to think about, but sometimes drivers have to face their worst car nightmares. This could involve anything from getting mired in the mud when off-roading to, in an even worse case, finding out that you have been the victim of a car theft. Unfortunately, a number of owners of off-road vehicles have found themselves in this exact situation. 

    Thieves favoring pickups
    As full-size trucks have become more popular with drivers on the roads, they have had popularity boosts in other areas - and some of these are not as positive. A recent study shows that full-size trucks are the most common target of thieves, both with actual vehicle theft and taking items from the truck itself. 

    According to the Highway Loss Data Institute, the Ford F-250 crew cab is now the most popular target for car thieves. The truck had a claim frequency of seven per 1,000 insured vehicle years, which is almost six times the average rate for other automobiles. The average loss payment for thefts involving this truck comes in at $7,060. While this may seem like a significant sum, it is also indicative of the heavy losses that some drivers experience when they are the victims of theft. 

    This Ford truck is in the No. 1 position, but the rest of the top five are full-size trucks as well. Those selections include the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew, Chevrolet Avalanche 1500, GMC Sierra 1500 crew and Ford F-350 crew.

    Many drivers are also finding that their tailgates are being stolen. The National Insurance Crime Bureau reports that incidences of stolen tailgates have risen each year since 2009, and they are expected to keep growing. 

    Some good news
    Despite the fact that pickups are increasingly becoming the target of thieves, there is some good news for motorists. The overall number of vehicle thefts is declining, partially thanks to a few features that are becoming standard in new models. Ignition immobilizers, for example, were installed in 89 percent of all 2012 models, GEICO reports. That number should only increase in the future, although it's not as common in trucks and large SUVs. 

    Several more recent model years have hit the market with extra security features that can help keep the vehicles safe. These additions may have had something to do with the fact that the Cadillac Escalade dropped from the most popular target for thieves to only the sixth-most popular. 

    "General Motors has put a lot of effort into new antitheft technology, so that may help explain the decline in the Escalade's theft rate," said Matt Moore, the vice president at HDLI. "On the other hand, sales of the Escalade have fallen in recent years, so there may be less of a market for stolen Escalades or Escalade parts." 

    What to do
    You aren't helpless when it comes to defending your truck or SUV. In fact, there are a number of truck and Jeep modifications you can make that will protect you and your ride against theft. For example, to avoid tailgate theft, drivers should invest in an integrated tailgate lock and even have the vehicle identification number etched into the section, Yahoo Autos reports. 

    Many thefts result from the perpetrator seeing goods in the truck bed, so you shouldn't leave your vehicle unattended for too long if you have possessions in the truck bed. Investing in thorough security systems to protect your automobile is also a must, especially for those drivers who put a lot of money into truck mods and special features. Those simple steps, along with always parking in lighted, public areas, can help you stave off theft. 

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