What’s the difference between receiver, gooseneck and fifth-wheel hitches?

If you want to know the differences between receiver, gooseneck and fifth-wheel hitches, this series of videos by Ram Trucks is a handy guide. It shows how to hook up a trailer using each sort of hitch and shares some facts about the capabilities of each hitch.

First up, receiver hitches:

Now fifth-wheel hitches:

Finally, gooseneck hitches:

Trucks at the Super Bowl

Last year, Ram Trucks made a big splash during the Super Bowl with its commercial, “Farmer,” embedded above. (You can see a longer version with more of Paul Harvey’s speech here). It exploded across social media and got the company a great deal of attention, especially in the agriculture industry.

Chevrolet already released its Super Bowl commercial for the Silverado HD, called “Romance.” It takes the format of its super-serious, minimalist “Strong” campaign and has a bit of fun on the topic of where beef really comes from.

Chevrolet is running this spot as well as another unrevealed 1-minute spot during the big game.

As of this writing, Ram (now a part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles), hasn’t tipped its hand on Super Bowl XLVIII, but we do know that Chrysler is the fourth-largest buyer of Super Bowl airtime this year. I’d say the odds are good it’s going to try and top the response it got last year with “Farmer.”

Ford has something hybrid-centered for the Super Bowl. There have been occasional rumors of a hybrid pickup from them, but nothing ever seems to materialize. We’ll see. Ford’s spot is expected to air just before kickoff.

Also, this Toyota commercial popped up just this past week. Could it be hinting at something to come?

We’ll update this post with any more Super Bowl commercials that appear. Let us know what you think of these ads in the comments section.

Monday morning update:

Well, the big game is passed. I missed a good bit of it because my TV signal went to pot sometime in the second quarter and didn’t recover until there were a few minutes left in the fourth. That’s just life for you.

First up is Chevrolet’s second big game commercial. It’s a bit of a slow burn that seems like a soft, romantic piece. Then, in the last few seconds it reveals exactly what is happening. Anyone who’s ever had a loved one fight cancer can relate to this:

Ram Trucks didn’t have anything to top its big hit from last year, but it did upload this little video yesterday.

I’m not sure if it aired on TV, and it seems Fiat Chrysler put its big money into its Bob Dylan ad for the Chrysler 200, a Maserati bit and this Jeep spot:

Ford kept its trucks in the garage for the Super Bowl. Its advertising was for the hybrid Fusion sedan. So did Toyota, but it did bring out the Muppets for the Highlander.

That’s all I saw last night, but between the technical difficulties and taking care of my kid, I might have missed something. If so, let me know in the comments.

Just look at these new trucks!

The automotive media is abuzz thanks to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. While there are some pretty cars being revealed at the show, a big component of the excitement comes from two new pickups that were unveiled in the past 24 hours: the 2015 Ford F-150 and the 2015 GMC Canyon.

Here are what several news outlets are saying about these new vehicles:

Copyright General Motors Corp.

The return of the GMC Canyon

General Motors pulled the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon after the 2012 model year due to disappointing sales. The returning Colorado appeared late last year, and now the GMC Canyon is back too.

Before the unveiling, GMC did a fair amount of teasing on social media, including these shots:


Automotive News reports the Canyon has a distinctly different look from the Colorado:

“While the Chevrolet Colorado is sporty and sleek, the Canyon, its corporate sibling, looks a bit like a little brother to the GMC Sierra full-sized pickup. And that’s by design.”

Automotive blog Jalopnik has been advocating for smaller pickups for some time now. It was pleased with the Colorado, and its reaction to the the Canyon has also been warm. Blogger Andrew P. Collins even said this Canyon is a worthy truck for taking on Toyota’s Tacoma:

“Both the Colorado and Canyon are nice little trucks. They feel tiny if you move into one straight out of a Silverado or Suburban, but would more than fulfill the pickup needs of many consumers.”

It’s been interesting to watch the differing strategies of the different truck makers. General Motors is going with the “three-truck strategy,” by making it so customers have trucks of three different sizes available from each brand. Who doesn’t enjoy choice?

I do wonder if there’s enough market available for selling these smaller trucks. This Wall Street Journal article pointed out the midsize pickups accounted for only 1.7 percent of all U.S. auto sales last year.

USA Today points out that this new truck’s electronic package includes a Teen Driver mode that lets parents set speed limits and gives a “report card” of broken laws and misbehavior.

Copyright Ford Motor Co.

The 13th-generation Ford F-150

As everyone is reporting, this truck made big news with its weight savings brought about through the use of aluminum in the body panels instead of rolled steel.

The rumor mill on this issue has been running for months, with countless stories quoting anonymous sources leaking bits and pieces about the new body material.

Most recently, Automotive News published this piece pointing out that the US Postal Service’s delivery vehicles have had aluminum bodies since 1987, and have been working out pretty well (Don’t miss the clever GIF video) Also, just before the reveal, MotorTrend magazine had a little fun by claiming to have an image of the new truck before anyone else:

When the reveal came, Automotive blog Jalopnik said the new truck looked good when photos were released, and said it’s even better in person. They also had a little laugh pointing out the lower melting point of aluminum compared to steel in a less-than-serious fashion:

“See, steel has a melting temperature between 2600°F and 2800°F, while aluminum melts at a much cooler 1220°F. Many types of lava flows can reach temperatures of over 1750°F, no problem for steel, while causing aluminum frames to turn into glimmering custard.”

MotorTrend says SuperCrew F-150s will have the most weight savings, at about 700 pounds each, because they had the most steel to replace. Regular cab pickups will shed 500 pounds or so.

PickupTrucks.com went all-out with stories about each part of the new F-150 filling up its news section. Powertrains, Bed Tech and Trim Packages, Oh My! Autoblog’s Truck section had this piece, and included Ford’s video on the new truck:

The New York Times took the Q&A format for reporting on the new truck, but also included this close look into all the work and research and science that went into using aluminum for the body as well as the new 2.7L EcoBoost V6:

“Ford is using 5000- and 6000-series sheet — the numbers indicate the particular alloys — supplied by Alcoa and Novelis. These alloys are popular with automakers because they are easy to form, rugged and, in the case of 6000, provide the smooth ‘class A’ surfaces required for visible panels like fenders.”

Automotive News shared a nice bit of detail about that new smaller EcoBoost engine, which uses special materials and designs that are beyond my ability to explain, so I’ll just quote the story:

“The two-piece block has compact graphite iron on the upper section, while the lower half is made from die-cast aluminum.

“‘We used iron only where we need the strength, which is in the main bulkhead,’ said Bob Fascetti Ford’s vice president of powertrain engineering. ‘This whole thing, including the [bearing] caps are cast together,’ he said.”

All this tech sounds fancy, but it makes a difference. Jalopnik is pointing out that this new F-150 can actually do more for the environment than the Toyota Prius.

Anything I missed?

If you know of any good stories on these new trucks that should be added to this digest, email me at ladams@agricover.com with a link and a description.


Ford did a sneaky little thing to show how tough this new truck is. It took a 2015 truck, stamped a 2014 body for it out of aluminum, then ran it in the BAJA 1000 race:

The ACCESS™ Truck Bed Mat can take plenty of abuse and still look good

Not all cargo is created equal.

Some stuff doesn’t care how rough you are when you drop it in the bed.

Other gear can be more sensitive, and that’s when you want your truck to have a softer side.

The ACCESS™ Truck Bed Mat doesn’t just look nice. It helps you move gear in several ways.

First, a truck’s bed does an OK job of carrying stuff, but it’s not so nice for people who need to move around in the bed while loading, securing and unloading gear. Get down on your knees in your truck bed sometime and you’ll see what I mean — the metal just isn’t very nice to your joints.

A Truck Bed Mat, however, is very easy on the knees and makes it much easier to move around in the bed. It helps cushion your body when you’re in the bed, and it also cushions whatever cargo you carry.

Some gear wants to slide around in a stock truck bed. This can mean your cargo winds up skidding to the front of the box — often damaging the bed’s paint and giving rust a chance to take root.

This carpet, however, helps keep cargo in place by providing more grip for your gear. And even if your stuff still manages to slide around, the bed below is protected from damage by the thick mat.

Many bed liners are permanent, but the ACCESS™ Truck Bed Mat can be removed and reinstalled as needed. For normal hauling, just let it be. If you’ve got something particularly dirty to haul, like a load of gravel, you simply unsnap the carpet and take care of your dirty work. When you’re done with the messy jobs, just spray out the bed and snap the carpet back into place.

But don’t think you need to worry about this carpet getting dirty — it’s not like you have to take it to the dry cleaners any time it gets smudged. The mat is easily cleaned with a pressure washer or garden hose. It’s made to be durable and washable.

This mat is also made in an environmentally responsible manner. The ACCESS™ Truck Bed Mat is a marine-grade carpet made from recycled water and soda bottles. Each mat sold means a pile of bottles get kept out of a landfill.

The Truck Bed Mat is produced with a precise fit for many different truck bed sizes. Installing the mat for the first time is a straightforward process using drill-in or adhesive snaps — both options are included with each mat. The mat can be installed in a bare truck bed or on top of drop-in or spray-in bed liners, too.

When I installed my own Truck Bed Mat, I used the drill-in snaps. Here is a step-by-step video that shows that installation process:

Some truck owners may not be too thrilled about putting holes through their new truck bed. That’s why ACCESS offers adhesive snaps as well. This video shows how to install an ACCESS™ Truck Bed Mat with the adhesive snaps:

Whether using the drill-in snaps or adhesive snaps, take your time while measuring the mat’s location and deciding where to put the snaps. It’s hard to fix a hole drilled through the wrong spot in your bed, and the adhesive snaps are made to stick in place for the long haul.

I love having an ACCESS™ Truck Bed Mat in my pickup. It keeps my gear from sliding around and makes it easy for me to work in the bed when I need to. It’s also so soft I let my daughter crawl around in the back when we’re stopped on a long drive and she needs a break from her car seat.

Hey, it’s never too early to pass along the joy of pickup trucks.

Anyway, if you think an ACCESS™ Truck Bed Mat is right for you, get yours here.

Fuel economy: What pickup makers once ignored is now a top issue for their customers

When I was a kid, $1.30 a gallon for gas was considered expensive.

Oh, how times have changed, and boy, they sure changed us.

I grew up working at my dad’s full-service gas station. I stocked pop when I was six, pumped gas when I was 8, changed tires when I was 12 and changed oil starting at 14.

For those early years, gas seemed to bounce around the buck-a-gallon mark, hitting about $1.20 or so in the winter and dropping to the mid-to-high .90s in summertime. Those were good times, and no one ever worried about fuel economy all that much. They drove giant pickups and massive sedans up to the pump, told me to “Fill ‘er up,” and then paid their bills.

Customers with a tighter budget would hand me a $5 bill and get just that much gas — and then they could actually get somewhere and make it back with that much fuel.

I have a clear memory of one summer day the history teacher at the middle school came by for gas and pointed at our sign, which said 87-octane unleaded gas was for sale at 88.9 cents per gallon.

“See that, Logan?” he said. “Mark my words. You will never see gas that cheap ever again.”

He was right.

A few years later, I bought my first car right before I turned 14 (you read that right) and, not-so-lucky for me, gas prices started going up right about that time. I remember paying $1.80 a gallon that summer to fill my tank and feeling like I was getting robbed.

Each year after that, gas prices got even higher. My dad had to get a new gas-price sign because the old one didn’t even have a “2” for the dollar amount. We had to be careful to run the gas pumps at their slowest setting because running them at full tilt would push the mechanical computers inside to spin so fast we were scared the gears would break.

Fourteen years later, I’m paying $3.60 a gallon at the pump and grateful I’m not paying $4 or more. What I’d give to see a pump charging $1.80 a gallon.

But the rise in gas prices has led to a sea change in automotive design. I never saw pickups advertise their fuel economy figures when I was a kid, but today you’ll see every automaker touting their improved fuel economy numbers with their trucks. You’re also seeing a lot of R&D going into better diesel engines, hybrid powerplants and alternative fuels.

Just look at what each truckmaker says: Ram claims “Best in class 25 HWY MPG.” Ford is proud of its 3.5L V6 EcoBoost with dual turbochargers. Chevrolet/GMC pickups have the EcoTec3 V8. Nissan and Toyota, it seems, haven’t caught on.

2014 GMC Sierra with ACCESS® Lorado® Roll-Up Cover

It’s easy to be wowed by each bump in mileage for tiny little cars, but pay close attention to the improvements coming in new pickup models. The gains made in those numbers will really save a remarkable amount of fuel.

Imagine two vehicles that have to make a 1,000-mile trip: a coupe that gets 35 mpg, and a pickup that gets 18 mpg. If you boost the coupe’s fuel economy to 37 mpg, it’ll save 1.5 gallons. But if you boost that pickup to 20 mpg, it’ll save 5.5 gallons of gas for that trip.

Now add up those kinds of numbers and consider the number of miles those vehicles will travel in their lifetimes.

There are some cool ideas coming out of our automakers, and with demand for fuel efficiency likely to keep growing, I expect they’ll keep improving.

My first truck was a gas hog – it got maybe 14 miles per gallon on a perfect day but was more like 8 mpg in winter. The one fuel-economy fix that did work with that truck was when I left it parked and ran my errands by bicycle. I’d tell you the mpg I got then, but I’d have to divide by zero.

My second truck does a much better job. It’s 12 years newer than my first pickup, has a bigger engine displacement and weighs about 2,000 pounds more. But it gets much better mileage. I get about 14.5 mpg on average, and in perfect weather, I’ve broken 20 mpg.

This happens because my current truck has a decade more of research and development in it compared to my first one. It’s got a newer design and variable cam timing.

It also came with a tonneau cover — something my first truck lacked.

A 1997 study by a pair of students at Western New England College found that adding a tonneau to a pickup cut its coefficient of drag by close to 12 percent. A 2007 SEMA study also found that tonneau covers make pickups more efficient.

To get an idea of how much a tonneau cover can save you on fuel, check out this calculator. According to this calculator, my cover is saving me more than $200 in gas each year.

I was curious about whether the tonneau made such a difference, so I removed it and drove around without it for a few weeks earlier this year, and the decision cost me. My fuel economy dropped nearly a whole 1 mpg. I was glad to get a tonneau back on that truck right away.

Have you tried a tonneau cover and noticed a change in fuel economy? Let us know in the comments.

Q&A: How to have an ACCESS® Roll-Up Tonneau Cover and ladder rack on your pickup

Many truck owners find themselves torn between installing a tonneau cover or a rack for ladders and other long pieces of cargo. But the ADARAC™ Truck Bed Rack System can let them have both.

Tonneau Cover and Ladder Rack

This adjustable and sturdy rack system is made model specific for the best fit on most Ford, GM, Chevy and Dodge pickup trucks. The ADARAC™ rack sits neatly behind the cab with no obstruction of view, and is capable of carrying a 500 lb. load with ease.

The ADARAC™ is compatible with ACCESS® Roll-Up Covers and other inside-the-rail tonneau covers. For example, here is a review by a pickup owner who installed the ADARAC™ with his hard folding cover. Also, here’s a pickup owner who installed an ADARAC™  even though his tonneau cover went partially outside the rails (See posts 8-10).

The rails on the ADARAC™ system feature tie-down holes running their whole lengths, and the optional load dividers mount to the top bars to help keep loads secure.

Installation is simple and the sturdy stake pocket inserts make attaching and removing the rack easy. It bolts on and unbolts just as easily.

Here is a video detailing the steps involved in installing an ADARAC™ Truck Bed Rack System:


Bowhunting seasons opening in U.S.

Across the U.S., bowhunters are gearing up for the season. Each state regulates their opening day but some states in the Midwest, like North Dakota, have already had their season opener.  Read on to learn more about the unique and exciting challenges bowhunting offers.

Continue reading Bowhunting seasons opening in U.S.