Hot topics this week were: What are the best trucks for towing? Is the new Honda CR-V impressive? Can you tow a 5th wheel with a Tundra? Plus, GM’s ridiculous $1-2k mandates for OnStar services.
Kicking off the weekly livestream, Publisher Tim Esterdahl and Managing Editor Jill Ciminillo shared some of the behind the scenes information on the best trucks for towing post. There was a lot of back and forth on this post, and they share the work behind this post.
Next, Ciminillo covered the new Honda CR-V information including its hybrid powertrains and new features and styling. The CR-V remains one of the best-selling SUVs on the market and these changes should help it retain its spot on the sales charts.
While Ciminillo was talking Honda CR-V, Esterdahl was doing some research into towing a 5th-wheel camper with a new 2022 Toyota Tundra. A viewer in the chat asked if we had heard anything because he bought his new Tundra specifically to tow his 5th-wheel camper. In his research, the answer is: Toyota is not offering an information or guidance on how to tow such a camper, and there isn’t an official 5th-wheel hitch offered for the truck. Without anything specific from Toyota, the answer is no for now. Esterdahl is digging into it more.
Finally, Esterdahl relives his rant on the mandatory upcharge for GMC Sierra, GMC Yukon and Buick SUVs for 3-year OnStar services with pricing ranging from $1-2k depending on the vehicle. There was some discussion ranging from this is the future so deal with it to people swearing to never buy a GM vehicle again.
Lots of good discussions this week and controversy remains over whether GM is doing the smart thing by mandating OnStar service.
The Livestream video is on YouTube and you can listen to it as a podcast on a variety of the top podcast service providers.
Automotive Journalist Tim Esterdahl has been a lover of trucks and SUVs for years. He has covered the industry since 2011 and has pieces in many national magazines and newspapers. In his spare time, he is often found tinkering on his '62 C10 pickup, playing golf, going hunting and hanging out with his wife and kids in Nebraska.
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If you’ve been the victim of a truck crash, you know it was one of the most terrifying experiences of your life. This is the case for most truck collision victims. Following the incident, they must try to heal from severe injuries, extensive medical expenses, lost wages, pain and and a lengthy recovery period. As a victim, worrying about these impacts on your life can impact your recovery. If you have suffered injuries in a truck crash, it is imperative to speak to a an attorney right away. For starters, your truck accident attorney will need to find as much evidence as possible to prove the liable party. These claims can be highly complicated, as multiple parties can be at fault. However, truck collision claims usually begin with an attorney investigating the factors leading to your injuries. What to know about truck crash investigations Generally, in a personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove the defendant was negligent and that any injuries the plaintiff has suffered were caused by the truck company’s negligence. When it comes to running a trucking investigation, the most common steps include: Collection of evidence: this includes taking photos of the scene, injuries, and damage to reviewing medical records. Examining the truck driver and the trucking company: an attorney will analyze the truck driver’s logbooks, personnel file (searching for potential safety violations), and the trucker’s driving record. Interviewing witnesses: this step involves identifying and questioning the witnesses of the incident, the other drivers involved in the crash, and first responders. Analyzing the truck’s data recorder: your attorney may need to subpoena these records. Expert witnesses: the attorney will consult various experts, such as medical providers, crash reconstruction experts, healthcare providers, and even forensic toxicologists. Truck examination: This is a review of the vehicle to check whether a piece of equipment was defective or failed. Some common causes of truck crashes Following the truck crash, law enforcement officials must take statements from all witnesses and investigate the truck. Then, the truck driver must respond to several questions to identify what has led to the incident. These are most commonly associated with: Design flaws Poor truck maintenance Unsafe delivery requirements Negligent driving Negligent hiring processes Failed truck parts Why do you need an attorney after a truck collision? Truck drivers are highly regulated, and in addition to the Commercial Drivers’ License (CDL) required to operate these large vehicles, many have additional certifications to carry specific cargo and use certain vehicles. While these licenses and certifications are a great indication that the driver is safe and responsible, the unfortunate reality is that no amount of regulation will ever guarantee that a truck driver will not cause a crash. Once injured in a trucking collision, your life can be turned upside down due to the devastating effects on you and your family. Truck crashes usually lead to long-term complications, and you may need to deal with medical bills, lost work time, or mental and financial stresses. It is critical to hire a top-rated accident attorney if involved in a crash. The trucking company may have a team of lawyers, so they will do whatever it takes to minimize the trucking company’s liability. Hiring the right legal team that will aggressively fight for your rights might change the course of your truck-related case. A CDL oriented attorney will conduct an in-depth investigation to gather the evidence and information needed to build a solid case.
Off-road adventures are an international endeavor, and without the right 4×4 camping gear, it can turn an overlanding trip into a dangerous endeavor. Just take Australia for instance. Every year, droves of people immerse themselves in Australia’s natural beauty, looking to make the most of its highly coveted weather. But before the adventure begins, you’d better start shopping for some camping gear. For the seasoned camping veteran, most of the stuff you’ll need will already be set in place. But for newbies and anyone thinking of lengthy off-road journeys deep in the desert, both a lot more equipment and preparation are involved. Getting there means having a decent 4×4. Not necessarily a hardcore truck you’ve just bought brand-new at the dealer, but a reliable rig in any case. Prepare your vehicle accordingly If camping in more remote areas, have your 4WD SUV or pickup truck fitted with basic vehicle protection. Things like bull bars, skid plates and rock sliders are all great items to add to that off-road shopping list. You’ll also need more traction, so look for off-roading tires with sand/snow ratings and good reviews. Lift kits, long-range tanks, diff breathers and other off-roading 4×4 gear may also need to be put into play, all depending upon the terrain you plan on traversing, of course. But spending a significant amount of time away from civilization also means having a self-sufficient infrastructure in place. Adequate amounts of water, food and fuel for more than your planned length of stay is vital. You don’t want to get stranded somewhere and not have enough supplies to survive an extra night or two. You’re also going to need to have all the necessary 4×4 camping items to prepare meals, enjoy the scenery in comfort, and get a good night’s sleep. Here are some essentials for making that camping getaway truly great. Shelter and furniture A tent should be the first thing on your list. One that’s right for the number of people in your group, and not too big or too small. Pole tents are the most common, but you can also use your 4×4’s roof rack to pitch a rooftop tent. Go for tents that are well made, hold up against the elements, and provide a good night’s sleep. Also, consider something that’s easy to set up. Extra poles, pegs, rope and a mallet come in handy, too. Of course, you’ll want some shade, and an awning does this best. Different shapes, like side, wing or wrap-around awnings can give the additional space you need outdoors. You can also use screens as windbreakers or for added privacy in cramped campsites. To keep your feet dry, get some comfortable, non-slip matting that is also eco-friendly toward the terrain below. In addition, spend a few dollars on sturdy chairs with good padding, and preferably constructed from materials that won’t soak up rainwater easily. Lightweight folding chairs don’t take up a ton of space, and tend to be fast-drying. Accompanying tables should be the right size, with bigger tables working best under awnings, while smaller tables serve as a platform for stacking goodies like kettles, ovens and cooking utensils. Sleeping Sleeping bags are synonymous with camping. Look for quality, weatherproof ripstop cotton and canvas combos that are also comfy and warm. If traveling with kids or teens, be sure that their sleeping bags are the right size and offer enough warmth. For more comfort, inflatable mattresses will get you dozing in no time, just remember that 12V compressor pump. Pillows, sheets, and blankets are a given, just be sure to pack a few extra if you’re camping during the cooler months. Cooking and eating If you don’t have that extra table, get a fold-out camp cupboard instead. The shelves can hold pans, pots, plates and everything else you need in one tidy location, and often come with a durable wooden top for preparing meals. And while a cooler may sound convenient for shorter trips, having a dedicated 12V portable fridge is the way to go. A separate BBQ can be redundant in organized campgrounds, but it’s nice having one close by for when it’s time to grill solo. If you don’t have a dedicated power supply running on panels, a gas stove is another solid cooking alternative. Just make sure to stock up on gas bottles in the right size beforehand. Also consider basic cooking utensils, like tongs, knives, salad spoons, can openers, peelers, pans and pots as well as cutlery, bowls, plates, cups and glasses. Some stores have these in camping packs intended serve anywhere from two to eight campers. Other items here include kettles, cutting boards and water jugs. Additionally, roof carrier mounted water jugs with spigots will allow easier clean up and provide extra fresh water. As for food, which tends to be based around personal preference, items like non-perishable canned goods should always be packed, along with fresh produce, some protein for grilling, and grains for cooking. Coffee and tea, condiments, drinking water and some suds never hurt either. Lights Being able to see at night means more enjoyable moments as well as increased safety. With a separate power supply, campers can light up both indoor and outdoor areas with lanterns, flood lights and light strips. Lights come in different brightness levels and different color temperatures to create either a relaxing camping vibe or a brilliantly illuminated site. You can also combine these with smaller reading lights with rechargeable batteries or USB port plugs, as well as a series of flashlights, with head-mounted units being the most practical. Personal hygiene, cleaning items and general safety Certain off-grid situations call for a camp toilet, as portable units offer an inexpensive way to keep things tidy. Tent showers are also a must, with separate standalone pop-up variants and roof rack mounted versions being the most common. You’ll also need toiletries like soap and shampoo, separate swimming and shower towels, tablecloths and wipes, disinfectant and toilet paper. Disposable garbage bags and bins to […]
It’s no secret that pickup trucks are becoming one of America’s favorite modes of automotive transportation. Consider their utilitarian potential, power, 4×4 performance perks and, in recent years, opulence and efficiency, and it becomes obvious why modern pickup trucks are so popular. But not everyone wants to (or is able to) drive a brand-new truck. And do you know what? That’s perfectly fine. Whether you own a scrappy Chevy C-10 farm truck, or have your eyes on a fresh Ford F-Series truck, it’s always best to familiarize yourself with the nuances of piloting these machines. It may still have many of the same core components as a passenger car, but piloting a pickup truck provides its own unique considerations and challenges. In this post, you’ll discover some useful tips for first-time pickup truck drivers, as well as a handful of reminders for veteran pickup owners. Even the best of us forget these practical automobiles do have their own inherent downsides. Acknowledge the weight Unless you’re behind the wheel of a Ford Maverick, a burly, full-size pickup truck will weigh a lot more than the average passenger car. The weight further increases when you are hauling goods in the truck bed or if the second row is loaded with passengers. For first-time truck drivers, the sheer curb weight of the vehicle itself can be a bit daunting, and even dangerous. Brake on time The weight of a full-size truck influences how the brakes function, so coming to a complete halt can be considerably lengthier than in, say, a low-slung sports car. You’ll want to start braking sooner, especially when the bed is loaded down or if you are traversing a steep descent. This is why knowing how to properly downshift matters, as it not only controls vehicle speed but also eases the strain on brake components. Over the years there have been countless cases of people rear-ending the car in front of them or unintentionally running a red light because they did not begin braking soon enough in their pickup truck. Fortunately, nowadays you can get things like an app for fighting tickets, for when an unfair traffic ticket has been issued. Go easy on the gas Similar to braking, you also have to be careful with acceleration. While the advent of electrically assisted motors and EV options have helped offset some of the pain people feel at the pump, the vast majority of pickups still sip crude. Due to a combination of curb weight and thirsty, larger engines, going easy on the gas is essential for efficient pickup truck operations. Use your mirrors, but be wary of them as well Using your mirrors is essential for safely piloting any form of motor vehicle, and is even more vital when driving a pickup truck for the first time. As soon as you get into the truck, make sure your rearview and side mirrors are properly adjusted so you can get a good view of your surroundings. If you happen to be rolling in a rig with extended or oversized side mirrors, check to see if they can slide or fold in, as this enhanced field of vision can also cause you to accidentally side-swipe something or someone. Beware of blind spots While pickup trucks offer countless advantages, the issue of blind spots tends to be one of the most common complaints. Sure, 360-degree cameras and hill-descent undercarriage monitoring certainly help, as do those aforementioned large side mirrors. But even then, there’s a lot that cannot be monitored at all times, especially when traveling at higher speeds. Turn carefully Taking a sharp turn with a pickup truck can be tricky. First of all, we suggest that you slow down to make the curve more manageable, and remember you will likely need considerably more space and patience to safely get the truck around the corner. Keep the length of the vehicle in perspective at all times, give yourself additional space for a margin of error, and turn slowly. One of the best ways to get good at this is by practicing multi-point turns in an empty parking lot. You can also install tow mirrors on your truck to make turning and reversing easier. Reverse cautiously Just like turning, reversing a large pickup truck can pose quite the challenge for first-time drivers. If the vehicle does not have a backup camera of some sort, don’t hesitate to hang your head out the window while reversing, as images in the rearview and sideview mirrors can be deceiving. Just like when turning, take your time, and when in doubt ask a bystander for assistance. Asking someone to be your spotter may be embarrassing, but it’s not nearly as embarrassing (or expensive) as backing into something. Practice, practice, practice… As with most things in life, practice truly does make perfect. If you want to master safely and successfully driving a pickup truck, you are going to need to log some windshield time. Fortunately, for those with zero truck driving experience, driving classes for first-time large pickup owners are available. That or call up your cool aunt or uncle for a few driving tips before hitting a vacant parking lot. Parting pickup truck pointers It’s no secret that a pickup truck takes up space, both physically and visually. Being that this form of motor vehicle is no longer reserved just for agriculture and job sites, the need to know how to properly operate them is increasingly vital. Who said you couldn’t enjoy the practicality of a pickup truck in the city? Whether you find yourself frequently requiring the need of a truck bed, or merely enjoy embarking upon an off-road adventure, pickup trucks remain an excellent investment.
Ever seen a paint touch-up job that looks worse than the paint scratch that surely resides underneath it? Splattering a splash of spray paint over a scratch and calling it a day is never going to cut the kimchi because a rushed paint repair job never turns out right. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to take your ride to a body shop either. The trick to a properly repaired and paint-corrected surface imperfection lies in the blending, and yes, DIYers can do this on their own. Blending paint requires a two-step process to encourage a seamless-looking fix. It’s by no means rocket science, but a method that does require some patience and a gentle approach. Thanks to the advent of modern aerosol paints, products from companies like AutomotiveTouchup have been able to give even the most inexperienced DIYer the ability to get professional-looking results. But before you even begin your body-matched paint repair procedure, you’ll first need to snag some supplies. While there are a slew of tools and materials you can use to repair an automotive paint scratch, the use of 600 and 1000 grit wet/dry sandpaper, a sanding block, painter’s tape, masking paper, prep wipes and a precision-matched paint and clear coat are the most widely utilized. By using these easily obtainable and inexpensive items, you can mask even the most unsightly surface scratch. Here’s how you can accomplish this straightforward DIY repair on your own over the course of an afternoon… Step 1: Scrape down that scratch To start, you’ll need to minimize the depth of the scratch by doing a bit of light sanding. This will not only make the scratch less notable, but it will also help the paint blend into its surroundings. To blend in a surface paint scratch, you’ll need to do a little light sanding with first a 600 grit piece of sandpaper, followed by a dash of 1000 grit wet sanding action. Simply cut a piece of sandpaper so that it fits your sanding block and attach it. Next, fill a clean spray bottle with water and spray the sandpaper until it is thoroughly saturated. Spray the area to be sanded and while it is still dripping wet, lay the sanding block flat across the scratched surface. Gently move the sandpaper back and forth over the scratch in a wiping motion, applying just enough pressure so that the sanding block and sandpaper barely touch the surface. Frequently spraying the area with water will help keep the sandpaper from developing any build-up, and will keep that surface adequately lubricated. Don’t be afraid to sand outside of the scratch, as it is all going to get coated with paint anyways. Step 2: Keep calm, sand on, inspect regularly and prep for paint Checking your progress after each pass, you will begin to notice that your hard work has begun to sand down the scratch. Once the scratch reaches a point where it is even with the rest of the paintwork around it, it’s time to shift shears into the next phase. The trick here is knowing when to call it quits, because the last thing you want is to expose bare metal, and that requires applying primer. You can check your progress by rubbing your fingers over the sanded area until you can’t feel any bumps or ridges. When the surface feels devoid of physical damage, clean the entire panel around the repair with clean water and, once dry, hit the area with some isopropyl alcohol and a fresh microfiber cloth for decontamination purposes. From there you can prepare for paint. We suggest that you use automotive-approved masking tape and overspray paper to prevent any unwelcome “whoopsies.” Just be sure to leave a fairly wide area around the repair site you are tackling, for you will need to be able to blend the new paint with the existing top coat. Step 3: Paint blend like a boss When it comes to blending a layer of spray paint into an existing color coat, be sure to hold the aerosol can about 6 to 8 inches from the surface. Utilizing a steady motion, spray horizontally, allowing an overlap of about an inch or so to form on the left side. Release the spray tip and make your next pass, pushing to the right in one continuous motion until you pass the repair area. Repeat this process several times until the entirety of the repair space is covered. Just be sure that you allow ample room for the freshly applied coat of paint to blend with its surroundings. When satisfied with your work, remove the tape and masking paper before the paint dries, and allow the surface to dry for at least an hour. Step 4: Clear coat for all the right reasons After the color coat has dried, you can apply a layer of clear coat from AutomotiveTouchup. This invisible top layer not only serves as a protective shield against the elements but also is specially formulated to bring out the maximum amount of luster and shine from the pigments packed within the brand’s portfolio of colors. Just remember to slap some fresh masking tape and masking paper to the area first, wipe the area down with isopropyl alcohol, and allow it ample room to dry. To apply a clear coat, simply spray it on in the same fashion as you did with the aforementioned aerosol can, always using a left-to-right motion. The only difference is that this time around is that you will need to utilize a continuous spray technique instead of light coats. This will allow you to build up a more notable shell of clear coat that spans well past all sides of the repair area. It may seem overkill, but this helps blend the area into the existing paint job, which should become obvious after several coats. When you are satisfied with the result, remove the tape and masking paper and allow your handiwork to dry thoroughly. A good rule of wrench […]
Choosing a career in transportation is not usually on the top of the list when people think about a dream job. However, with more than 3.5 million American truck drivers on the road, truck driving remains one of the more popular jobs in the U.S. People don’t understand that professional driving isn’t just a job. It’s a lifestyle, and one that is not intended for everyone. However, for those who opt to pursue a career as a professional truck driver, there are quite a few perks to be obtained. That being said, there are a fair share of challenges and headaches within this field to be taken into consideration. Truck driver requirements A trucking career starts with getting a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP), then obtaining a Commercial Driving License (CDL). You must also complete the Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) before applying for the CDL examination. On the upside, this will help you learn more about ELDT requirements and provide additional time for you to research which options will help foster the specific skill sets needed for whichever field you prefer. You’ll also need to fulfill the following requirements for eligibility: Proof of state residency Be at least 18 years of age Possess proof of insurance Have a valid U.S. social security number Pass a background check, medical examination, and periodic drug tests Maintain a clean driving record What a career in trucking entails Before pursuing a career in trucking, there are a few pros and cons that must be carefully considered. Here are a few of the more notable perks and pitfalls people experience when committing to this occupation. Job security and growth opportunities According to the ATA, the country’s shortage of truck drivers topped out at 80,000 back in 2021, and is expected to hit 160,000 by 2030. If these trends continue, professional truck drivers will become a highly coveted fraction of the American work force. So keep this in mind, as a CDL license earns you instant recognition as a skilled laborer, making it an excellent form of job security. You can also choose to start and end your career as a professional driver whenever you wish, or stick with this field and move into a leadership role over time. Drivers working with reputable trucking companies tend to have the most success in transitioning to a loftier role, with positions like being a driver trainer or transportation manager being but a few options. There are also plenty of opportunities to be had within the trucking customer service sector. Great benefits and good pay While there is no standard form of pay, truck driving features competitive pay for CDL holders, with the average truck driver earning approximately $62,000 annually. In most cases, drivers get paid per mile. So, for instance, if the company is paying an average of 50 cents per mile, and you cover 2,500 miles in a week, you’ll earn $1,250. These rates can also differ based on whether you’re driving in-state or out-of-state. The type of truck you pilot will also determine earnings, as does the type of CDL certification you hold. For example, hauling a fuel tanker or a wide load earns you more than say the average box-style cargo trailer. As a truck driver, you also have the benefit of boosting your earnings via tuition reimbursements, driver referral programs, and CDL training. Effective communication is essential When it comes to a trucking career, communication is mandatory. Being able to effectively communicate and manage the schedules of the people you’re dealing with any given week can spell the difference between a smooth shipment and a missed delivery window. You’ll be dealing with dispatchers, docking and receiving foremen, and logistics advisors in order to deliver your cargo on time, so be sure to brush up on those communication skills and be ready to multi-task. You will also need to communicate with repair workers and truck maintenance shops so that you can get the service your rig requires quickly. Truckers tend to get paid for delivering a load on time, and a miscommunication can spell the difference between a fat paycheck and an upset client. Stress is inevitable When it comes to a career in trucking, stress is just a part of the job that you learn to live with. Don’t get us wrong, trucking can be fun and surprisingly fulfilling for those who value windshield time, but it’s also rifled with frustration. Stress starts when you’re stuck in traffic, and only gets worse when your GPS points you and your rig the wrong direction down a tight one-way side street. Things become even more chaotic when unfavorable weather conditions materialize and long-distance hauls keep you from seeing your friends and family. Speaking of loved ones, marital and relationship stress can become a serious factor for certain truck drivers. Generally speaking, you’ll be away from home a massive chunk of the time, so having a social life and raising a family may be a challenge for those who don’t drive locally. Wrapping up Trucking is like any other career in that it has both benefits and drawbacks. For many, the profession offers steady employment, personal freedom and reasonable reimbursement for the effort spent when behind the wheel. Hopefully these facts can help you better determine whether a career in truck driving is right for you, regardless of what kind of rig you plan on piloting, load you hope to haul, or when you decide to venture into the field.
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