Welcome to our first-ever super show extravaganza! God, that word is fun to write. Extravaganza. Go ahead; say it one time with a smile. You are about to embark upon a journey we took over the course of a month last fall to shows in five different states all over the country. We came back tired, dirty, thirsty, and with memory cards full of coverage from some of the best shows of the fall. We decided not to wait any longer and to just stuff them into this issue of the magazine, along with a ton of tips you can use to make your next road trip a success. You can thank us later.
How to Get There and How to Win
Whether you're traveling a couple hundred miles or a couple thousand, road trips to shows are where memories are made. But, before you and your friends load up into your trucks, take some simple precautions to ensure safe and stress-free traveling. Once you're certain that your automobile is in flawless condition, stock it with some items that'll make your life easier when on the road, as well as provide you with peace of mind. Imagine yourself stuck by the side of a deserted road, trying to flag down cars that will likely never come by. Imagine the stress, the loneliness, the agony.
Prepare Your Truck
A long trip is a serious exam for your truck. Even a small problem, such as a worn wiper, out-of-balance tire, or improper alignment, may turn your trip into a nightmare. Here, we have compiled a few tips on how to prepare your vehicle for a trip. Remember: Chance favors the prepared mind, so don't wait until the last minute to make sure your sport truck is ready for a road trip.
Inspect Your Ride Whether you're traveling by truck, RV, motorcycle, or lawnmower, your road trip will be smoother if your vehicle is road-worthy. Before you leave, have a qualified mechanic check all the car's vitals, including brakes, battery, fluid levels, tire pressure, light bulbs, and any parts that need regular maintenance-especially the suspension.
Details, Details Clean your truck before you leave for a show. When beginning a detailing regimen, it's always a good idea to start with the engine and engine compartment. This will ensure that any dirt and grease that lands on the vehicle during engine compartment cleaning will be washed off during the initial rinsing and washing. It's a also good idea to wash your wheels first, preventing contamination from cleaners, brake dust, and dirt from being spattered back onto the body around the wheel opening areas as you rinse. Always start washing and rinsing from the top down.
Clean With Clay For anything other than a new finish, a good once-over with a clay bar is the perfect next step after a thorough wash job. Created to lift the above surface contaminants that washing can't, clay bars remove embedded grains of metal, tree sap, airborne environmental deposits, and paint overspray from your car's finish by grabbing onto them and lifting them off a vehicle's painted surface. Always use the supplied lubricant with a clay bar product. Your paint will look 10 times better.
Polish The Wheels One of the easiest ways to polish those fancy chromed or billet wheels of yours is with one of those Mother's Power Balls. Use it once and you'll never go back to doing it by hand. Speaking of Power Balls, the Power Ball Mini is perfect for hard to reach areas and polished aluminum engine dress-up items, as well.
Rugburns Carpet cleaning is a must for often-used vehicles. For stubborn stains, use a soft-bristled brush to agitate deep down into the carpet's fibers, using circular, overlapping motions. Finally, blot the moist area with another clean terry cloth towel. Before leaving, use floor mats or towels to keep your carpet clean.
Keep It Car-Friendly Never use household detergents, abrasives, or petroleum distillates on interior components. An automotive-specific cleaner/dressing is the way to go.
Getting to Your Destination
Your vehicle is tuned up, you are buckled up, and you're ready to go, but not so fast. Here are a few things to keep in mind to ensure your road trip is as safe as possible, and most of them will help save you money, too.
Driving Music When selecting music for the trip, keep in mind two things: Unless you have satellite radio, you can't expect the radio stations to carry you cross-country. Bring along CDs you can sing along to that will make that long drive bearable.
Map It Out There's the matter of how you break up your driving. If you just get in the truck and drive, knowing you want to go, say, 750 miles that day, time is almost guaranteed to drag. But, if you look at the map first and divide the day into five 150-mile hops, time will pass relatively quickly, since you can always tell you're making progress.
Move Your Blood In addition to eye fatigue, driving long distances can cause leg cramps, decreased situational awareness, and even a potentially life-ending condition known as falling asleep behind the wheel. The best prevention is very simple: Get out of the truck and move around. When you stop for fuel or food, do some stretches, jog in place, chase a Frisbee, or do your interpretation of the Chicken Dance. Forget about how odd you look-no one knows you! Do whatever it takes to get your circulation moving.
Split The Drive If you are traveling with other drivers on a run, the optimal way to divvy up the driving is by a two- or three-person (if possible) rotation. With two or three drivers, it's possible to drive continuously, except for fuel, food, and restroom breaks.
With today's ridiculous fuel prices, it's more important than ever to make sure you are getting the best fuel economy for your dollar. There are several quick, simple, and inexpensive things that you can do yourself to save gas.
Aggressive vs. Moderate Driving This is gonna hurt. Stop dragging your truck on the way to a show just because you're trying to impress the girl in the Honda with the Roxy sticker on the back window. Trust us, she doesn't care. Also, don't mash the gas when you accelerate. This tip alone can save you unbelievable amounts of gas.
Lower Speeds Saves Gas Remember that thing called the speed limit? On most highways, it is either 65 or 70 mph. How fast are the cars and trucks around you going? From 75 mph to 90 mph. These people are wasting a lot of gas for the chance to get there a little earlier.
Cruise Control Using cruise control is a bit of gas-saving advice frequently on tips lists. We have always agreed with this tip in theory, but we hadn't expected such significant results. First, it smooths out the driver's accelerator input by preventing nervous surging. Second, it makes the driver take the long view of the road rather than reacting to every change in the traffic around them.
A/C On, Windows Up vs. A/C Off, Windows Down This has to take you back to the days with the family on vacation. Dad says, "Turn the A/C off! It wastes gas!" And Mom says, "We can't roll the windows down or everyone on the highway will think we can't afford A/C." And you're in the back roasting, hoping someone will win the argument so you can cool off. Well, family psychology aside, if dads are still saying this, they aren't necessarily right. While the A/C compressor does pull power from the engine wasting some gas, the effect appears to be fairly minimal in modern cars. And putting the windows down tends to increase drag on most cars, canceling out any measurable gain from turning the A/C off. But, this one depends on the model you're driving. It's not worth the argument because you won't save a lot of gas either way. So, just do what's comfortable.
How to Win a Trophy at a Show
You have spent the last week running around with a blatant disregard for anything other than you and your truck. You're about to lose your job and your girlfriend has started using phrases like, "You love your truck more than you love me." Come hell or high water, you're not leaving the show without some sort of an award. To help out your insanity, we have a few final tips that will help you get closer to that trophy.
Clean Is Key Get to the show early, so you have enough time to make sure your truck is spotless. It will also give you the chance to scope the competition in your class.
Everything Counts Make sure you read the judging sheet; check out every area that will be judged. Even if you don't have any chrome or powdercoating, pull a wheel, open your hood, make sure your doors are open, and get every last point you can. If a judge can't see it, you won't get any points.
Wax On, Wax Off Cleaning your ride without water can be somewhat of a task, but if you have the right stuff you don't need water. Quick detailer is your friend; don't be afraid to use it. Use it with a large loop microfiber towel. As you wipe, any dirt is picked up and moved away from the paint, without scratching it. If you need to wax your truck, use products like Meguiar's Quick Wax-it is a wipe-on, wipe-off process.
Hide The Evidence Make sure you have some WD-40 with you. No, we aren't crazy. Use it to clean your inner wheelwells and parts of your suspension. It will break down any road tar or even that animal you hit on your way to the show.
No Dust Bunnies Dashboards, like computer monitors, become dust magnets because high-tech components create an electrostatic bond, resisting soap and water. Monitor wipes contain anti-static solvents, while the new electrostatic wipes actually attract dust by using an opposed electrical charge. To reach otherwise inaccessible areas, consider a compressed-gas duster.
More Than A Trophy A lot of times the difference between getting a trophy and not getting one is only a matter of a few points. We bet you're thinking that you should have opened up your hood, huh? Just remember, as enthusiasts, we're not all about trophies. It's about the friendship, the memories, and the stories you will have to tell your friends back home.
4 Tips On Towing a Trailer
If you tow a trailer, you are subject to new and different challenges on the highway than you may have previously encountered. Towing a trailer is no small responsibility and should be undertaken with great care and an eye toward safety first. An accident with a tow vehicle and trailer can have much greater consequences than carelessness with a small car.
1. Driving a heavily loaded truck or towing a trailer means you need more space to stop or pass. Keep your distance, at least three seconds for each 20 feet of vehicle length. A truck 20 feet long pulling a 20-foot trailer should have at least six seconds following distance between it and the car ahead of it in ideal conditions.
2. When traveling slower than the flow of traffic, be courteous. Pull over where possible to let faster vehicles pass.
3. If you get to a point where you experience trailer sway, it's likely that something else is wrong. The problem could be insufficient tongue weight. If you have a travel trailer, shift heavier items to the front and lighter ones to the rear. With a car trailer, move the vehicle forward. Whatever the case, the first thing is to avoid panic. Slow down by taking your foot off the accelerator. Let vehicle speed decrease, but do not apply the brake-it can make the situation worse. Once you're down to a safe speed, carefully apply the brakes and stop. Then, readjust the load or determine what else might be causing this condition.
4. Before you tow a trailer or haul a load, make sure your vehicle is properly equipped for the job. Make sure that your rearview mirrors give a clear view of the road behind you. If your truck can tow 9,500 pounds and your trailer and contents weigh less than the towing capacity of the truck, you still may not be legal. The rating on your trailer is what determines whether you're legal or not. If the GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) of the trailer is greater than the GVWR of the towing truck, then you're overweight, which means if you to get into an accident your insurance company will not cover your claim, opening you to personal lawsuits. If in doubt, check your owner's manual or contact your vehicle dealer.
Top 11 Items You Should Pack
While it sounds so simple-just pack up your stuff and go-how well you plan your road trip can make the difference between fun and frustration.
1. The backpack should hold all of your important materials: wallet/purse, cell phone, camera, keys (if not in ignition), gum, travel information such as reservation documents, maps, and so on, and the latest issue of Sport Truck magazine.
2. Bring snacks for the trip and to have during your stay. We sometimes will stop at a local store and pick up some snacks to have in the room. Gatorade or Kool-Aid powder is handy, as well. You will probably want a cooler, even if you're staying at a hotel that has one.
3. A pillow is a must, if you're prone to neck aches when staying in hotels. On the other hand, the crescent-shaped neck pillows sold at airports work well if you are sleeping during the drive.
4. A med kit is important but doesn't have to be extensive. It's nice to have Band-Aids, aspirin, aloe (for sunburns), and other such things handy.
5. Keep a small selection of tools, such as a flashlight, adjustable wrench, pliers, or duct tape-or zip ties for you die-hard mini-truckers-handy for a minor problem that might arise. Keep extra air line and air line fittings, including unions to bypass any air system components that might fail. Make sure your roadside jack is in good working order, and check where it connects to the vehicle in order to lift it properly.
6. Of course, you will want to take your own toiletries: Soap and shampoo-you also might want your own products if you suffer from allergies-Q-tips, a brush and a comb, dental care supplies, shaving kit, nail/skin care and makeup, and so on. Also, pack a travel blow-dryer, since not all hotels provide them. We all know how testy girlfriends can get if they don't have their makeup and stuff.
7. Appropriate clothes for the duration of the trip. Check Weatherchannel.com to see what Mother Nature will dish out during your trip. If you travel in early fall or spring, be prepared for temperatures to swing either way and bring a jacket.
8. Don't buy new shoes the day before you leave for your trip. If you don't own some already, buy them a month or two before the trip and break them in. Making this mistake of buying new shoes just before a show, you will end up with blisters the size of pancakes.
9. Sunglasses-don't leave home without them-no matter what time of year it is. It can be downright dangerous to drive during the day without them.
10. A camera or video camera are a pain to lug around but well worth it. You don't want to miss your friend, Larry, using the third story window as a high dive.
11. Last but not least, don't forget your detailing gear. Use one of those big Rubbermaid storage bins to store it in. Be sure to use large Ziploc bags to separate the different applicators, such as foam wax pads in one bag and clean towels in another.