Outfitting Upgrade Guides: 12 Truck Upgrades

Larry Walton
June 6, 2012
Filed under Top Stories, Trucks For Towing

The perfect tow vehicle has not been built. In fact, I could never convince you if it had, because your idea of the perfect machine is quite different from mine. Let’s take front-row seating as an example. Many would have nothing but bucket seats with a console for their laptop or music collection. My wife and I, however, would never consider a vehicle where our dog couldn’t sit between us on some type of bench seat configuration.

Some consider a camping trip with the kids or grandkids a perfect chance to interact away from our electronic world. Others would not hit the road without the kids plugged into their own entertainment systems, especially if the route includes long miles of flat, featureless interstate.

Building the ultimate tow vehicle is a challenge even the manufacturers don’t pretend to master. The best they can do is check some items off our collective wish list from what companies know about its customers. They vary options and target different drivers with a variety of models. Additionally, compromises are made to keep the vehicles affordable for more buyers. Suspension systems that can haul lots of weight are not so comfy when the machine is empty, unless an expensive computer-controlled system adjusts for the conditions. All of these factors and trade-offs add up to plenty of room for aftermarket upgrades of the vehicles available.

For some, the upgrades will be all about comfort, sound quality and shine. Others will boost power, handling and cargo storage. Some can be customized exclusively for an RVing lifestyle, while other rigs must work all week, then transform into weekend toy haulers.

Here are some upgrades we found to help make your truck all that it can be, for you and your recreational lifestyle. If you don’t find what you’re looking for here, let us know, we’re going to round up more performance-enhancing parts for you in future issues.

2012 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor

Everyone is looking for a little extra power or a few more MPGs, read on for 12 top-notch upgrades for your towing rig.

All Terrain Traction

Open Country A/T from Toyo Tires is an M&S (Mud and Snow) rated tire that offers aggressive wet and snow traction for pickups and SUVs. With rugged good looks, this versatile all-terrain tire provides uncompromised handling, ride comfort and on- and off-road stability. A special siping and tread arrangement provides a smooth, comfortable ride, as well as improved snow traction. The Open Country's shoulder voids maximize water evacuation for excellent all-terrain traction and stability. In addition to Toyo’s normal limited warranty, the Open Country comes with a 40,000-mile warranty on Light Truck and Metric sizes up to 17 inches. Toyo Tires: Online Information.

Load Stabilizer

The Quick Disconnection StableLoad from TorkLift dramatically improves handling and reduces truck sway when towing or hauling anything from a truck camper to a toy hauler. It works by engaging the overload springs by bolting onto the overloads and taking up the gap between leaf springs. It engages and disengages in seconds and is covered by a lifetime warranty. No drilling is required and it can be used with air bag systems as well, allowing you to lower the pressure. The StableLoad kit includes four units, enough to outfit one vehicle and is available to fit nearly any vehicle. TorkLift International: (800) 246-8132, Online Information.

Glide Adapter

PullRite's new SuperRail Mounting Kit with B&W hitch adapter allows an existing B&W customer to convert their current B&W mounts for use with PullRite's automatic SuperGlide sliding hitches for short bed trucks. SuperGlide automatically moves the trailer away from the cab while making turns - allowing up to 90 degrees of turning without stopping, slowing down, or even thinking about the space between the truck and trailer - and then automatically returns the hitch and trailer to the safe towing position over the truck axle when the turn is completed - going forward or backing up. PullRite: (574) 259-1520, Online Information.

EGT Cool Down Injector

Water-methanol injection is a proven and effective method for reducing exhaust gas temperatures (EGTs). The Tow-Max advanced control unit from Snow Performance uses a 2-D map with boost and EGTs to adapt to the load for correct injection while towing or empty, it adds up to 150 lb-ft of torque for towing, and incoporates a LCD screen that displays boost, EGTs and injection pump output. Tow-Max reduces EGTs, allowing you to use all your power, instead of having to revert to a mild tune while towing. Snow Performance: (866) 365-2762: Online Information.

Diesel Fuel Additive

Red Line’s Diesel Fuel Catalyst is designed to prolong fuel system life and improve fuel combustion. Powerful thermally stable detergents clean fuel injectors and the compression ring area that can become filled with partially burned combustion products. A cetane booster is incorporated to reduce knocking and smoke and improve cold-weather starting. Lubricity additives lubricate fuel pumps and injectors while leaving a coating in the upper cylinder, helping to reduce friction at a critical point where the rings change direction. Red Line Synthetic Oil: (800) 624-7958, Online Information.

Mirror Extender

Power Vision Mirrors are the only available electrically extending mirrors on the market. Reach an overall width of 109 to 112 inches (depending on model) with the touch of a button. Conveniently extend your mirrors for towing, increasing rear visibility and safety. The large 6.5-by-10.5 inch flat glass surface provides a true field of vision and prevents image distortion. The mirrors fold on impact, both to the front and rear, protecting your door and allowing you to get into close quarters. Power Vision Mirrors are available with heat and turn signal options. Power Vision: (800) 337-2557, Online Information.

Brake Helper

The PRXB (pressure regulated exhaust brake) from Pacbrake is its flagship product, which provides performance, safety and savings. The PRXB delivers constant exhaust pressure (braking) as early as 1200 rpm all the way to maximum rpm. It provides safety by increasing vehicle stability and reducing the amount of brake fade. Controlled by a master ON/OFF switch, the exhaust brake provides whisper quiet supplemental braking that allows service brakes to be used much less, ultimately paying for itself with fewer brake jobs. With the ability to be left on all the time, it is ideal for city driving or steep, downhill grades. Pacbrake: (800) 663-0096, Online Information.

E-CON Power Programmer

The Max Energy E-CON Economy Power Programmer from Hypertech is designed to offer better fuel mileage and more power, without the added cost of other high-performance features, which may not be utilized. The E-CON is programmed with Hypertech’s Max Energy Tuning, optimizing fuel and spark curves to increase horsepower and torque at wide-open throttle and more miles at part-throttle. Hypertech customers report 2-to-6 mpg gain and a substantial increase in horsepower and torque. For an additional charge the E-CON can be upgraded to a Max Energy Power Programmer, via an online download, to include all Max Energy features for that vehicle. Hypertech: (901) 382-8888, Online Information.

Twice As Cool

Maradyne’s Mach Two Extreme Dual 16-inch Fan is designed to fit trucks with radiators whose core is 34 inches wide. They feature the manufacturer’s quiet S-blade design and work as a puller fan delivering a maximum airflow of 4,320 cubic feet per minute. The fan, which has two 225-watt sealed heavy-duty motors that are dust and waterproof, is designed to provide increased horsepower, fuel efficiency and cooling. The benefit during towing at a heavy load is high-performance electric fans don’t rob as much power as clutch-driven fans, essentially increasing performance. Maradyne High Performance Fans: (800) 435-7953, Online Information.

Hi-Perf Engine Oil

High Performance Street (HPS) motor oil features Royal Purple's proprietary Synerlec additive technology and is specifically formulated to meet the demands of high performance and modified engines. HPS is recommended for vehicles no longer under manufacturer warranty (for vehicles under warranty its API-licensed oils are recommended). HPS Series of motor oil responds to increased pressure with increased viscosity, providing exceptionally high film strength for reductions in engine wear and reduced engine heat. The additives found in HPS provide oxidation stability that extends oil life, uses synthetic solvency to reduce engine deposits and keeps engines clean. Royal Purple Inc.: (888) 382-6300, Online Information.

Quiet Cat

DynoMax Performance’s VT Exhaust System for the 2011-12 Ford F-150 pickups is a cat-back performance system that delivers a drone-free and throaty exhaust tone. The exhaust is constructed of 3-inch mandrel bent piping and features a 12-inch-long slant-cut single walled tip. The heart of the system is the VT muffler that controls interior drone, using a precisely calibrated patented internal valve, which redirects the exhaust flow during cruising conditions to limit unwanted drone. The kit comes with all necessary hangers, clamps and hardware. Fits extended cab short bed and crew cab short bed Ford F-150 models. DynoMax Performance Exhaust: (734) 384-7806, Online Information.

Steering Box Replacement

Borgeson’s newest steering offering for Dodge truck owners replaces the ‘60s-style Saginaw technology used in many Dodge models with a modern Delphi integral power steering gearbox. The “Dodge Box” for your 1994-2002 second generation Dodge Ram pickup offers more power assist, quicker ratio for easier parking and less turns lock-to-lock. A modern variable valve means stable highway driving. The “Dodge Box” bolts directly in the stock location and works with the original pitman arm, hoses and pump. Kit includes an adapter to work with all Borgeson replacement steering shafts. Borgeson: (800) 482-8283, Online Information.

For 20 more upgrades for your towing rig, pick up the June issue of MotorHome Magazine on newsstands, or subscribe today!

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