Truck Questions

List of my current questions. I’ll be adding more as I study the options that are available on trucks.   This will help in identifying the price point/truck capacity for each truck with the options we prefer. I’m reading the brochures and researching what I don’t understand. Researched answers will be in red text.

  • Air Suspension.  How do they work, how hard to upgrade after the fact, and don’t know that they would improve tow capacity. Do they just improve ride and level out the trailer/truck stopping the truck from sagging under load?
    • Per Ram: Available rear Auto-Level air suspension ensures level loads no matter the cargo or terrain. With the push of a button, the driver can select from two smart ride height selections, Normal and Alternate Ride Height, for better alignment with a trailer with automatic electronic adjustments to maintain a level load. Contained within the frame-mounted compressor, tank and lines, it’s all done in relative silence
  • Alternator options.  Are they needed or not?
    • Per an expert these are generally used when added equipment is needed such as a snow plow. No need to get a second alternator for fifth wheel towing.
  • Navigation systems. Right now I don’t use a portable GPS in my car that has a built-in navigation system. And if I was to buy an RV GPS, would I really use the trucks navigations system. Or, does navigation just come with other components we might use such as blue tooth to phone.
  • Steering assist systems. I’ve learned that at least Ford and Chevy offer a system that changes the steering input such as at lower speed less input is required.
  • After market purchases. Is it really worth having the factory handle some. For example with Chevy and GMC if you option in fifth wheel hitch prep then you must option in the spray in bed liner. Wonder what options might be cheaper and better if done after the fact.
  • Transmission and Axle Ratio: Both can change a trucks capacity, base weight and more. How do you pick the best for your driving conditions?
    • I’ll probably just go with the manufacturers suggested for what ever tow rating can handle 19,500 pounds with a little safety margin. 
    • Here is a decent article on axle ratios to include points to consider.
    • Here are the questions you have to answer to choose a gear ratio:
      • • What is the target top-end road speed for the truck? 65 because I like to pull trailers five under the speed limit so others pass me so I don’t have to worry as much about someone being in my blind spot.
        • Will the truck operate primarily on flat or hilly terrain? Mixed
        • Will the truck’s load be increasing, diminishing, or constant throughout the day? Constant when towing or otherwise.
        • Will the truck pull a trailer? If so, what size and weight? What percentage of the time? Max gross weight trailer for my top six is 17,900 pounds. But have looked at ones as high at 19,500 pounds which are out of my price range. One, closer to my price range but not in my top six is at 18,000 gross.  The other top five are at 16,500 and under. I need to take a look at what average annual miles people have been towing vs when using the truck as their daily driver. I could see someday having a second vehicle for a daily once the truck gets older and we are not moving pulling the trailer as much.
        • Will the truck operate off-road? If so, what percentage of time? What type of surface? What speed range will the truck travel in those conditions? Not enough off-road that this is a consideration for me.
  • Payload: What would be the typical loads we would carry (fuel, people, pets, cargo) which would tell us what was left for pin weight.
  • Minimum turn length: Wonder if there is a difference in how much space is required to make a full circle. I had read, for example, where the Ford F450 had a tighter turn radius than the stock F350. However you can get an option with the F350 front end that would equal the F450. Figure this can make a difference when maneuvering tight campground roads when backing into a site. The Ford F450 has a wider front axle that give it a better turn radius.
  • Blind Spot Warning: I know the 2017 Fords have a light that warns if you have someone in your blind spot that includes the trailer. Karen has it on her car and we love it.
  • What about horsepower vs torque: I’ve always understood that torque is what got the load moving and horsepower is used to maintain a speed.
    • Clipped this explanation off a website. “Diesel owners tend to pay attention to the torque ratings of an engine more so than peak horsepower. Both are of equal importance. An engine producing greater torque will have the greater ability to overcome large loads from a standstill, accelerating a heavy trailer up to speed from a dead stop, for example. Likewise, greater horsepower potential translates into the ability to keep a heavier object moving at a constant speed.”
  • Engine idle shutdown: No idea what this is.
  • Truck bed sides: Some have to raise their trailers two inches at the axle for truck side clearance.
    • I’ve been reading you want the trailer’s floor towed flat and level. And leave 6″ clearance between the top of the bed sides/tailgate and bottom of the fifth wheel.
    • I know on the Fords the bed sides are lower in the F350/F450 than the F250/150s.


  • Stationary elevated idle control

o   These are standard on all models. But what is it? Here is a PDF file explaining it. It’s part of a PTO setup for commercial application. Not something I’ll need such as for a salt spreader.

  • Tire pressure monitoring

o   Depends how much it costs and if it handles the trailer at the same time. But then again it would be nice to have on truck when not towing. Trailer portion is an add on and handles up to 125 psi ratings. 110 pounds is H rated tires.

o   Aftermarket cost for a pressurepro system for 4 tires is $392 and 10 tire system is around $500.

  • Trailer reverse guidance

o   Uses three cameras for backup coaching/steering guidance.

  • Upfitter switches. How are they used.

o   Switches for stuff you add later such as flashers, lights, auxiliary fuel pump.

  • Active motion front seats

o   Seats that massage to help reduce lower back and leg fatigue.

  • Electronic locking rear differential. Non-limited-slip vs limited- slip axle vs Electronic-locking rear

o   Here is a forum post on the subject: “The e-locking 3.55 has a switch you pull out (the 4×4 switch) and it will lock the rear axles together creating positive traction (both rear wheels turn at the same speed). A non-limited slip rear axle means that only one wheel will be pulling at any given time and there will never be positive traction. Another option that is out there is called a limited slip, this is where during normal driving only one rear wheel will do the pulling but under a load there are clutches that lock up and cause both rear wheels to do the pulling.”

o   Here is another forum post: “Limited slip allows both wheels on the same axle to turn even if one has no traction. Without limited slip, if one wheel is spinning freely in mud, ice, etc. then the other wheel won’t move. Essentially, a 4wd without limited slip or lockers on either axle is really only 2wd – one front and one rear. I strongly suggest getting some type of limited slip or locker functionality.”

o   The electronic locking feature makes the truck handle it automatically.

  • Engine block heater

o   Here is an explanation of items you could add to a diesel truck for cold climates.

o   Here is what Ford says: To ensure optimum cold weather starting performance, and improve cabin heating, the 120 volt engine block heater should be used during any cold weather operation. The engine block heater is required when the vehicle is to be started at temperatures below -10F (-23C).

o   Here is a PDF for diesel care tips from Ford.

  • CNG/Propane gaseous engine prep package

o   This is a gas engine thing.

  • Engine idle shutdown

o   Some are programmable in 5,10,15 and 20 minute increments.

o   May have something to do with California and “green state” emissions code.

o   Shuts the engine off if it sits idling for a period of time.

  • Operator commanded regeneration (OCR)

o   Ability to perform an Operator-Commanded Regeneration of the vehicle’s diesel particulate (exhaust) filter.

o   Here is a good explanation about it all.

  • Ford Telematics

o   Paid service for vehicle tracking, engine diagnostics, idle time, maintenance reports

  • SOS Post-crash alert system.

o   Automatically sounds the horn and activates the emergency flashers in the event of an air bag deployment or safety belt pre-tensioner activation. In addition, the vehicle doors automatically unlock after an air bag deployment or safety belt pretensioner activation, to aid in rescue.

  • High series cloth interior

o   Judging by the interior photos, this is the tighter woven material. I have it in my current Ford work vehicle (police package) and it’s good stuff.

  • Remote start system

o   It’s on the key fob. You can start the truck when not in it.

  • Tow technology bundle

o   Choosing the $ 1735 Tow Technology Bundle brings automatic high-beam headlights, rain-sensing wipers, adaptive steering, 360-degree camera and trailer reverse guidance, a camera in the CHMSL, lane-departure warning, and more.

  • Intelligent access (with push button start)

o   No need to put key in the door. Just grab the handle as long as the key fob is within 3’ of the vehicle. It also has a push button starter inside.

  • 10,000/9900 GVWR Package or 11,400 GVWR Package

o   The 9900 is the F250, the F350 single wheel can come in the 10,000 and 11,400 GVWR. The dually is 14,000 GVWR.

  • Alternator options

o   Dual alternators are standard with the diesel power stroke. (also comes with standard 2 batteries either way)

o   One option is for extra heavy duty dual alternators. Some say it depends on what you are powering while towing such as a residential fridge. The extra heavy duty are a $115 option.

  • Super (extended) Cab vs Crew Cab

o   Crew cab adds $4,685 while the 14” shorter super cab adds $2,860 compared to a regular cab. The shorter extended cab also adds 230 to the cargo capacity and 300 pounds towing capacity to the truck. Big decision as this will be our daily driver. The highest model that comes with a super cab is the lariat and below.