Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Why You Need Professional Installation for Brake Controllers

  We install everything we sell at Auto Truck Depot.  Most of the time, we do it for the convenience factor.  People just don’t have the time or inclination to install these products at home.  However, some do.  We have a lot of customers who are very hands on and do-it-yourself.  DIY is great because it cuts costs for you.  Although we certainly want your business, if you told our sales staff that you want to install your truck box yourself we’re not going to be broken-hearted.  Installing a truck box, however, is a bit different than installing an item that is considered a “safety feature”.  Brake controllers are safety mechanisms.  While there are a great many people out there that are meticulous and handy, it is still a good idea to have a professional team install any item that involves safety.  If you scratch your truck installing a truck box, you’ve done cosmetic damage.  If your brake controllers fail, you have a potential accident on your hands.

Since the mid 90’s manufacturers of RVs, trucks, and SUVs have all made allowances for trailers and are set up to use an electronic trailer brake controller.  Most of them now have brake controller units built right in, but some have what is called a “quick plug” on the dash somewhere that connects up to the standard brake controller.  This does make things a lot easier and there are customers that I know who I would sell a brake controller to with good conscience because I know that they will be just fine connecting the brake controller quick plug to their vehicle.

With older vehicles and trailers this process is not quite as cut and dry.  Someone would have to be good at wiring to create the connection between the trailer brakes and the vehicle’s own braking unit.  This means tapping into the brake light wiring, finding the brake light switch and running a 12 volt power wire, ground wire, and brake light wire to the controller and then back to the trailer’s brake wiring connector.  This isn’t rocket science—what is besides rocket science?  Still…I’d feel a lot better if I knew that someone who does this daily or weekly is handling it.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve driven behind a trailer whose brake lights don’t work.  

That concludes my rant of the day on brake controllers.
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Friday, August 26, 2011

Do I Need a Fifth Wheel Hitch?

Most of the time, people can get away with using a standard ball hitch for their trailer.  However, larger trailers (RVs, campers, livestock trailers, etc.) require a fifth wheel hitch because they allow for appropriate weight distribution.  The whole fifth “wheel” thing is a bit of a misnomer in modern configurations and dates back to the days of carriages when there really was a “fifth wheel”.  Today’s configuration consists of a coupling that has been installed in the bed of a pickup that consists of a “coupling pin” and a horseshoe shaped device (the “fifth wheel”).

When do you need a fifth wheel hitch?  Well, you absolutely need one when you are hauling larger livestock trailers, campers, or semi-trailers. You could use one when you have a medium sized trailer that requires the type of extra support and weight distribution that these hitches provide.

Once you’ve made the decision to purchase a fifth wheel hitch for your truck, stop by our showroom.  We work with several different manufacturers, each with their own set of strengths. It is easier to discuss which one is best for your vehicle in person because it allows the sales staff to physically point out things about the hitch or your vehicle that might help you make the right purchase. 

To answer the original question: when do I need a fifth wheel hitch?  The short answer is that if you’re hauling a second home with your truck, if you’ve got 20 head of steer you need to move, or your truck is actually a “semi” then you need a fifth wheel hitch.
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Trailer Hitch Classes: Why We Offer So Many of Them

We sell a lot of trailer hitches here at Auto Truck Depot.  They might be our second best sellers.  What we’ve discovered over the years is that about half of all the people who purchase trailers and trailer hitches own cars, not trucks.  It makes sense, though.  People who own trucks probably don’t need a trailer because they can use the truck bed.  Regardless, we sell a wide variety of trailer hitches in all classes because we understand that there is no “type” of person or vehicle that requires trailer hitches.  Trailer Hitch Classes are type by two things: maximum trailer weight and towing capacity of the vehicle.

A car, for example, would probably only require a Class 1or Class 2 trailer hitch because most cars do not have the torque, horsepower, and body strength to haul heavy trailers.  A smaller car like a Mini Cooper or Prius would probably take a Class 1 hitch, whereas a “muscle” car like a Charger or Mustang could (if they owner didn’t freak out about it) take a Class 2.  Trucks, on the other hand, have five different trailer hitch classes: Class 3, Class 4, Class 5, Xtra Duty, and Heavy Duty.

You should review your vehicle’s manual before deciding on a trailer hitch, or ask one of our sales or service reps.  If you are having us install the trailer hitch this will just come up naturally because our service team won’t install anything that is “unsafe” or would harm your vehicle.  That’s part of our quality control process.  We’re “safety first” here at Auto Truck Depot. 
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Friday, August 19, 2011

Trailer Hitches Should be built to Last

The other day I happened to notice a truck and a four horse trailer on the side of the road.  The trailer hitch had either broken off, or maybe it pulled off the bumper—I really don’t know.  It served as a reminder to me of why we not only sell quality hitches here at our store, but also why we offer to install things like trailer hitches and brake controllers.  Safety always has to be first. 

Van.Image via WikipediaTrailer hitches should be built to last.  They should be able to withstand not only the variable weather we have up here in Calgary, but rough roads, high speeds, and the test of time.  Not everyone is hauling horses, livestock, or recreational campers, but the same level of quality should be there even for those smaller trailers.  Purchasing good equipment is not just about your safety, but the safety of those behind you on the road.  It probably doesn’t matter to the Subaru behind you that you got a good deal on a cheap hitch when the trailer breaks off and he now has a lawn tractor parked in his front bumper.

I’m hoping that the man’s horses or whatever it was that he was hauling in his trailer is okay.  It seemed to be from my vantage point.  Had it broken off with vehicles behind him it probably would have been a whole different story, and that’s my point.  The purchase of quality trailer hitches isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity.
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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tonneau Covers: Which Type Should I Choose?

Our sales staff here at Auto Truck Depot get a lot of inquiries about our Tonneau covers.  In our desire to provide our customers with as many aftermarket options as possible we sometimes shoot ourselves in the foot.  People have a hard time deciding which brand, style, or option they should go with and many times will walk out of the store because they need to think it over.  Of course, they always come back—you can’t beat our prices, after all.  Still, we are trying to think of ways of making the decision easier on our customers so we decided to “blog” about it.
Photograph of a 2004 Dodge 2500 Quad Cab. The ...Image via Wikipedia
Tonneau covers are one of those items that some people purchase based off of both utility and style.  The people that buy them are buying them for the purpose of protecting items beneath the cover, effectively turning their truck’s bed into a “trunk”.  The fact that they went with a cover over a truck box means they intend to haul large items in inclement weather, items like wood, furniture, or appliances.  The thing is, how often does this happen?

If you use your truck for business then we would recommend you purchase either a hard top Tonneau or a trifold Tonneau.  These two types are probably the most durable form of Tonneau covers on the market, and will not only shield the contents of your truck bed from the elements, but also keep them safe in the event of an accident.  If this is a personal use vehicle you can probably get away with a soft top or retractable top Tonneau.

And, as with all things, there’s personal preference.  Do you like the way the soft top Tonneau’s look or do you prefer a hard top?  Which is easier and better suited for your lifestyle? 
If you have any questions about our Tonneau covers just come on down to the showroom and let our sales staff walk you through our inventory.  They can point out all of the benefits of each.

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