Tech Q & A


Just purchased a 2011 GMC Sierra 2500 HD Crew Cab and am already thinking about making it my company’s “calling card” as you guys say. Where is a good place to start pricing a wrap (not much selection where I live) and who is making wheels for this new GM bolt pattern? – Steve Samuelson, Quinwood, W.V.

Wheels to fit the 2011 GM eight-lug 180mm bolt pattern were a bit scarce until just recently. Now they are starting to show up from American Racing, ProComp and other major wheel makers. As for truck wraps, you might want to check out to find a pro installer/dealer, or contact a company such as Skinz Wraps ( that does custom pickup wraps from design to installation and let them know what you need.


I bought a used bed cap from a friend who was trading in his work truck. It’s an A.R.E., six years old, in pretty good condition. But needs new seals, struts and strut brackets. Where can I find this stuff? – Brad Little, Denver

Andy Clutter at A.R.E. says “Replacement parts for A.R.E. products are only provided through the company’s 600-plus dealers across the U.S. and Canada. “Their locations are noted in the A.R.E. website’s ( Dealer Locator.” You might also try e-tailers such as and for the struts and brackets.


How can I get the right speedometer reading with bigger tires? I put 33s on my ’07 Dodge Ram 1500 4×4 and know it isn’t accurate. – Ray Baker, Lancaster, CA

Whether taller/smaller tires or a gear change there are several options. The service manager at our local Locklear Chrysler Jeep Dodge here in Tuscaloosa says they can “reflash” the computer so the speedo reads correctly as long as the tire/axle ratio change is within the Ram offerings. The cost is about $90. If the tires/gear change is outside of the OEM offerings, or you have more than one truck that needs speedo calibration, you might save money getting a Hypertech Speedometer Calibrator to reflash the computer(s) yourself. A Superchip TIREPAQ is another good tool for reflashing. Both usually sell for less than $200. Hypertech also sells an in-line, plug-in module ($240) that serves the same purpose for computers that can’t be reflashed.


How are the new exhaust brakes different from a truck “Jake brake”? – Mark Villers, Coos Bay, OR

David Ives, one of the engine guys who designed the new Ford Power Stroke says, “Diesel pickup exhaust brakes clamp the turbocharger vanes, which builds exhaust backpressure against the piston on the exhaust stroke. That’s what makes the moderately louder turbo and engine noise. An 18-wheeler’s engine exhaust brake typically utilizes a more expensive hydraulic system, known as ‘Jake Brakes’ that pop open the exhaust valves at top-dead center, much earlier than normal, creating even more engine braking power necessary for heavier loads. This makes the very loud engine ‘rapping’ noise as the exhaust gas escapes the cylinder thru the exhaust valves at much higher pressures than normal.”


Our landscaping business is growing and we’re about to invest in a compact track loader. Our diesel F-250 4X4 is eight years old and worn out. We have a 5th wheel on our pickup to tow our toyhauler and can only afford one tow vehicle. Do we need to buy a chassis-cab dually to pull an 18,000-pound equipment trailer? – Mindy Reed, Louisville, KY

Mindy, if you’d asked this question two years ago, the answer would be yes. But today’s heavy-duty Crew Cab dually pickups can easily handle an 18,000-pound trailered weight. For example the 2011 F-350 4×4 Crew Cab has a maximum trailer rating of 20,300 pounds, which applies to both 5th wheel and gooseneck setups. However, that rating only applies to Super Duties with the 3.73 axle ratio. A suggestion, if we may: Order the factory-installed gooseneck option and convert your toyhauler from 5th wheel to gooseneck. Conversion kits run about $400. That way you keep your new Ford’s bed open for other uses when not towing.


Why did the manufacturers quit offering manual transmissions? I like ‘em. – Chuck Farley, Sioux Falls, SD

Maybe because pickup owners got tired of pushing in clutch pedals and throwing mixing sticks around. Oh, and replacing burned clutches. Or maybe we all just got lazy.


Send them to Bruce Smith at http://[email protected]