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Heavy Duty Pickup Truck Beginners Guide

August 15, 2019

We wanted to go over some of what makes a 'Heavy Duty' pickup truck different from a 'Light Duty' pickup truck for those who're getting their feet wet with trucks.

 

This video is meant to be an entry-level resource for people looking to learn more about pickup trucks and how they're classified in Canada and the United States. We recommend this video to those who are curious to learn more about 1/4 ton, 1/2 ton, 3/4 tone, and 1 ton pickup trucks, and who don't have a lot of experience with them already, as seasoned pickup truck enthusiasts will likely find this information boring.

 

This Beginner's Guide to Heavy Duty Pickup Trucks goes over the tonne ratings for trucks, often you'll hear the term half tonne or 1/2 ton when talking about a Ford F-150 or Chevrolet Silverado 1500. In the early days of pickup trucks these ratings corresponded directly to the payload capacity of a vehicle. For example, a Ford F-100 would have been considered a 1/2 tonne truck as it could carry 1,000 lbs of payload. A 1966 GMC Series 1000 had.. you guessed it, a 1,000 lb payload capacity.

 

This eventually shifted into the naming conventions we know today, where it's accepted that a 1-5 denotes a half tonne, a 2-5 for three quarter tonne, and a 3-5 for a full tonne truck, even though modern day pickup trucks have vastly higher payload capacities.

 

We also talk about the clearance or marker lights found on the top of wider vehicles like the Ford F-150 Raptor, and RAM 2500 Heavy Duty. These lights are required by Transport Canada and the US Department of Transportation when a vehicle is wider than a set width. These are legally different from the front identification lights which we also discuss in this episode.

 

We then talk about the engine and transmissions found on current Heavy Duty pickup trucks, including the recent 2020 Ford Super Duty changes for the gasoline-powered engines. Engines like Ford's Power Stroke Turbo Diesel, RAM's Cummins Turbo Diesel, and GM's Duramax Turbo Diesel along with their gas alternatives, like the 6.4L HEMI V8. Transmissions are discussed like Ford's Powershift, RAM's Aisin, and GM's Allison are all different transmission brands you'll hear when paired with Heavy Duty pickup trucks.

 

We go over some of the mechanical differences that make these larger trucks different from their light-duty counterparts, such as the frame, suspension, and transfer cases. We also take the 2019 RAM 2500 Cummins we have on a road test to talk about how these larger 3/4 ton trucks compare on the road to smaller 1/2 ton trucks we've featured up until now.

 

We wrap up our episode of TestDrive Garage by going over the US Department of Transportation's truck classifications, and how they relate to the ton ratings for trucks we discussed at the start. You can find out more about this classification system thanks to Andrew Collins of Jalopnik.

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