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Rough Country News

    • 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, 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, 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. 

    • 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 "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 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. 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. 

    • Mud bogging takes center stage in Florida

      It takes a special kind of off-road driver to enjoy mud bogging. The risk involved with each trek through the deep mud, the thrill that comes from successfully navigating a treacherous landscape and the skill required to outfit a vehicle with all of the necessary truck mods to conquer the terrain are all qualities that make mudding an attractive pastime for motorists to work up to. 

      Mudding differs from more standard off-road driving because those who take part in the pastime rely, at least in part, on Mother Nature. It's hard to go mud bogging without mud, and that means you need to be able to access waterways or be in a location that has frequent rainfall. 

      The perfect climate
      If there's one thing that makes Florida stand out from other off-roading locations, it's the climate. The state is well known for having warm and sunny weather year-round, but what often gets lost in the shuffle is the fact that it has frequent rain showers as well. Summer storms are a regular occurrence, and the state is also home to countless lakes and ponds throughout its central region. This diverse landscape helps to create a top-notch setting for off-roading, and the consistent rains ensure that mud is almost always plentiful. 

      High humidity helps to keep the land damp throughout the day, but it can also make for an uncomfortable setting. If you aren't used to the heavy heat or simply want to make sure your vehicle is armed with the right extras to keep you comfortable, be sure to give your ride a tune up before departing and finishing any last-minute truck mods you had planned. 

      Make the trip
      Fans of mudding know there are some spots that should not be missed when it comes to experiencing off-road driving in new locations. Florida is certainly one of these locations, as the ideal climate and wide array of potential driving locales makes it a can't-miss destination. 

      Before heading south, you should examine your off-road vehicle to make sure it has all of the modifications needed to succeed in Florida's mud. The right tires are must-haves for the difficult muddy landscape, and often that requires installing a lift kit to provide enough room and clearance on a vehicle. Some locations also require a safety flag to be included on all automobiles, from full-size trucks to ATVs, so drivers may want to pick one of these up beforehand and figure out the best place to include it on the vehicle. 

      Locations to check out
      Florida is a big state, and even excluding major cities and protected areas, there is plenty of room to roam. One place that attracts many drivers is Horse Hole Creek. Located west of Ocala, Fla., this mudding spot features an impressive course and is a favorite of local drivers. The area hosts a number of competitive events throughout the year, but it is also open to the public, and drivers can purchase a weekend pass to explore the land on their own. 

      Another alluring location is Coyote Mud Bog. This off-road park hosts special events throughout the year and is frequently used as a campground for drivers who want to pack a lot of fun into their visit. Miles of off-road trails and a 400 by 600-foot mud pit for general mud bogging and official events are open to the public, making this area an all-in-one stop for recreational drivers. Coyota Mud Bog is open every weekend, from Friday at 9 a.m. to Sunday at 6 p.m., and it is an ideal weekend getaway for fans of off-roading. 

    • Maintenance tips every driver should follow

      All drivers know they have to follow certain steps to make sure their auto maintenance is on target. Despite the general knowledge many fans of off-roading have regarding vehicle upkeep, things can change when truck or Jeep modifications enter the mix.

      Whether you're an auto expert or beginner, there are a few areas of car maintenance you need to focus on no matter where you are driving. Keeping these matters in mind allows you to care for a vehicle and yourself, and it can certainly pay off in the long run. 

      Pay attention before off-roading
      Sometimes just reaching your off-road driving destination can be half the battle. When you're operating a truck or SUV that's loaded with modifications that make it bigger, stronger and more powerful, you become an immense presence on the roads. While this may be exactly what you want for off-roading, it can cause problems when you're on the pavement driving to reach a destination.

      Maybe you have larger or more significant blind spots thanks to a few alterations or are still getting familiar with the more difficult handling of an altered vehicle - regardless of the issue, you can take steps to recognize the concern ahead of time. Take a few shorter drives on quieter roads before heading to the highway. This allows you time to familiarize yourself with any quirks or recognize areas that will need extra attention later on.  

      Brakes matter
      A vehicle's brakes are designed to create friction that eventually slows down the automobile. However, when you have completed truck mods that ultimately make a machine bigger and stronger, it can wear down the brakes at an increased rate. You don't want to encounter a problem with your brakes when you're in the middle of the wilderness, so it essential you do regular checks of the gear to make sure everything is functioning properly and there are no signals of wear. 

      Additionally, if the brake light appears on your dashboard or you notice things like a delayed response or strange noise emanating from the gears, don't hesitate to check it out. It's much easier - and more affordable - to change brake pads than to repair damage that comes from faulty equipment. 

      Engine systems need maintenance
      You should be providing regular maintenance to the entirety of the engine system. From the oil to the air filter, all areas of the motor should be examined before you head out on intense off-roading experiences. All engine parts will be required to work harder to propel a heavier machine through difficult terrain, and although many models were created with off-road driving in mind, taking steps to extend the life of the motor is a good idea. In particular, keep an eye on the engine coolant. If the motor is working overtime to power your souped-up vehicle, the engine could be feeling the strain, and maintaining the proper coolant can help you avoid overheating. 

      Stick to regular tire checks
      The tires are one of the most important aspects of an off-road vehicle. While there is a good chance you have upgraded yours after installing a lift kit, you still need to perform regular checks of the wheels. Having the right tire pressure is vital, especially if you plan on dune bashing or rock crawling, as these activities place a lot of demand on the tires. You should also make it a point to survey the general wear on the tire surface and tread. The grooves are just another essential aspect of tires, and inspecting yours to verify they are safe can save time, money and aggravation. 

    • Jeep Wrangler Polar is ready for extreme off-roading

      The Frankfurt Auto Show is in full swing, and much of the attention has been focused on European automakers and their offerings. Largely consisting of smaller vehicles and innovative new designs, most of the action surrounding the auto show didn't appeal to avid fans of off-road diving - until Jeep stepped into the spotlight. 

      As the American brand unveiled a new option that should have many off-road vehicle lovers salivating, it also launched a new niche of machines that may spawn some other creations in the near future. Before looking too far ahead, however, take a look at some of the facts and features surrounding the automaker's surprise: the 2014 Jeep Wrangler Polar special edition. 

      Jeep's big reveal
      Jeep is no stranger to the world of off-roading - in fact, as most people know, it's one of the staples of the industry. So although it is not surprising to see the manufacturer create a vehicle designed for off-highway adventures, the timing and niche of the Polar was a bit more shocking. That hasn't dampened the enthusiasm for the machine, however, with many already praising the special-edition Jeep. 

      During the auto show, the Polar was unveiled as a four-door Jeep, but it will also be available as a two-door ride. Drivers will also be able to select their preferred engine from either a 200 PS 2.8-liter Fiat diesel or a 284 PS 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, Auto Evolution reported. These powerful motors allow plenty of flexibility for future owners, who should be able to make certain Jeep modifications without having to worry about the functioning of the vehicle. 

      More about the Polar
      While the hype surrounding the Polar will certainly - and rightfully - revolve around its capabilities, the impressive exterior of the vehicle should not be overlooked. The first thing you're likely to notice is the Hydro Blue paint color, a vibrant shade that is perfectly complemented by pitch-black accents on the front grille and plenty of sleek gear like the 18-inch gloss black wheels. 

      The vehicle is also equipped with many extras that will be extremely useful for off-roading. A limited-slip rear differential is designed to provide top-of-the-line traction on any terrain. With Trac-Lok anti-spin qualities, it should keep the machine functioning in any situation, and it even goes so far as to direct torque to the tire that has the best grip on the ground to improve safety. 

      Well suited for the cold
      With a name like Polar, you know the Jeep is going to be ready to handle the cold. Its capabilities are not just limited to the standard snowfall and freezing temperatures typically found in winter, either. The Polar is a heavy-duty machine ready to handle severe climates and extreme conditions more associated with Arctic tundra than general off-roading sites. 

      On the inside, heated leather seats maximize comfort, and white accents create a unique look. To go along with this revamped appearance, there is a new leather-wrapped steering wheel, automatic climate control, Hydro Blue instrument dials and a 6.5-inch infotainment screen. As if that wasn't enough, the Jeep has a Polar badge emblazoned directly on the automobile. You can find it on the front fender flares, where it shows off the coordinates of Vostok in Antarctica, which is more commonly known as the location of the lowest-ever recorded temperature. 

      The Polar may not be for everyone, but it is certainly an interesting look at some of the potential options in the world of off-roading. 

    • Beware of the dangers of carbon monoxide when off-roading

      There are a few potential dangers that most people watch out for when off-roading. Things like vehicle safety, obstacles on the trails and similar mechanical problems are common issues that drivers usually know to pay attention to. However, other sources of harm are not given the same focus, and this could be to the detriment of motorists everywhere. 

      Carbon monoxide poisoning has been a problem for people all across the world, and it can strike in any situation, whether you are off-roading or simply sleeping. While devices like carbon monoxide detectors can help in the home setting, you may have to go the extra mile to protect yourself from harm when in an automobile. 

      The dangers of carbon monoxide
      Carbon monoxide is a gas that can cause major damage to unsuspecting individuals. In areas where there is a high content of the compound in the air, red blood cells in the body absorb the gas instead of oxygen. As a result, necessary oxygen is not distributed to organs, wreaking havoc on basic functions. Additionally, too much carbon monoxide can damage tissues, which further intensifies the damage. 

      Part of the reason carbon monoxide is so dangerous is because it is an odorless, colorless gas - making it extremely hard to recognize until you have already been exposed. That is part of the reason drivers must always be conscious of where they are off-roading and how the terrain may be affecting the automobile.

      The gas can build up even in semi-enclosed spaces that individuals may have believed were safe. Because you can never be too careful about the ventilation, it is best to keep windows open whenever possible and to take regular breaks where you can relax in the fresh air away from a vehicle. 

      How to avoid harm
      Many issues arising from carbon monoxide poisoning in off-road driving come when the exhaust of a vehicle is blocked by mud or other debris. After mudding, be sure to take a short break just to check the exhaust. Similarly, if you are crossing a muddy area or waterway and find yourself stuck, open the windows and periodically check on the back of the vehicle. Should the exhaust become blocked, it could back up into the passenger compartment completely unbeknownst to you, which may lead to dangerous situations, so take breaks out in the fresh air and encourage passengers to do the same. 

      Carbon monoxide can also be found in small gasoline stoves or lanterns. If you wind up camping during your off-roading adventure, be sure to check and see if your gear produces carbon monoxide and take steps to ensure these devices are used in open spaces where you won't be breathing in the gas. 

      When working on truck or Jeep modifications, be sure not to restrict yourself to a closed garage or poorly ventilated space. If the car is running at any point, it is releasing carbon monoxide into the air and putting you at risk. 

      Know the symptoms
      One of the best ways to stay safe when off-road driving is by knowing the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and being able to identify potentially harmful situations. Some of the most common symptoms include headache, nausea, dizziness and general weakness. 

      These signs of carbon monoxide poisoning can occasionally seem like other sicknesses, so it's important to have the notion in the back of your mind to avoid further harm. If you or a passenger starts experiencing any of these symptoms, do yourself a favor and stop driving. Pulling over the side of the trail, opening windows and getting out of the car could go a long way to feeling better. At this time you can also check out the exhaust on your off-road vehicle and see if there are any noticeable issues. 

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