Squatted trucks entered the custom auto world starting in the 1990s.
These strange-looking vehicles were popular with racers in desert states like California. And thanks to the age of smartphones and social media, their popularity has skyrocketed.
But these funky pickups weren’t ever intended to leave the desert. Now that they’re on streets and highways, they’re causing a real dust-up.
What are squatted trucks, and why are some states banning them? Let’s dive in and find out!
The Details about Squatted Truck?
Most people are familiar with lifted trucks. But what about squatted pickups?
This unusual modification lifts the front end of your rig. The back typically stays at its standard height. However, some folks lower the rear ends for an even sharper angle.
This sharp angle makes a pickup look like it’s squatting. While some folks call this look the Carolina Squat, the Tennessee Tilt, or even the Cali Lean, the term “squatted truck” is more popular.
This trend was initially meant to give drivers an edge during races. Nowadays, however, most are just for show.
Where Did Squatted Trucks Originate?
Despite its many regional nicknames, the squatted truck originated in California. Drivers in the Baja racing circuit began lifting the front ends of their rigs for performance and safety. The lifted front end gave the vehicle more clearance and softened landings after big jumps. It also reduced the risk of damage or driver injury.
This modification became a trend when the Baja racers’ Instagram photos of their setups went viral. Even non-racers saw them and wanted to try out the look.
Almost any driver can lift their vehicle at home thanks to DIY suspension and lift kits. You could even see a squatted truck driving down your suburban street.
Are Squatted Trucks Safe?
Squatting a truck makes sense if you’re racing in the California desert. But for regular people, they can be a considerable hazard.
The same front-end tilt that helps with racing is dangerous for everyday motorists. The sharp angle causes reduced driving visibility and a heightened risk of traffic accidents. The tilt also causes the headlights to shine upward, making them difficult for other drivers to spot. Even a slight modification could result in an accident or injury.
After considering the risks, some states quickly passed laws regulating squatted trucks. The risks are pretty clear even to a casual observer. After all, how could you safely operate one of these things at night?
What Are the Disadvantages of Squatting Your Truck?
Road safety isn’t the only concern for drivers of squatted trucks. This modification can also cause serious harm to the vehicle itself.
Lifting one end of a vehicle puts undue stress on the other end’s suspension system. Most of the time, your rig isn’t designed for this conversion, and you risk prematurely ruining your shocks and other expensive parts.
Squatting your rig also puts the driver at risk for trailer sway. A swaying trailer may lead to jackknifing or turnovers. Even body rolls can occur.
Some of the side effects are less serious but annoying all the same. Lifting the front end increases aerodynamic drag–a surefire way to ruin your gas mileage. And if you try this on your rig, say goodbye to your towing abilities. The steep angle makes pulling cargo basically impossible.
How Much Does a Squatted Truck Cost?
The price tag for a squatted truck depends on several factors. You can find several different ways to achieve the look. And then there’s the question of taking your vehicle to a shop or doing the labor yourself.
Performing the labor yourself with a lift kit will help keep your costs low. If you aren’t comfortable doing the work, a custom auto shop will do it for a hefty fee.
Other factors include the age of your pickup, the make and model, and which lift kit or auto shop you use. Generally speaking, you can get this mod for as little as $300 to $600. But that price may run as high as $10,000, depending on the situation.
Are Squatted Trucks Legal?
As mentioned earlier, some states are taking action against these modified rigs. North Carolina banned squatted trucks in 2021 by limiting how high a lifted vehicle can be. Virginia was the next state to ban them, passing a law in 2022. This law came about after a young man died in a wreck involving one. Other states, including South Carolina, are also considering bans.
While there isn’t a federal law banning this modification, many lawmakers seem interested in outlawing them. Some owners claim the suggested bans are a symptom of generational differences.
After all, while low-riders and lifted trucks once seemed strange, they’re so common now we hardly think about them. However, there is a good deal of evidence to show that these pickups are just downright dangerous for everyday use.
Is This Modification Worth It?
Squatted trucks serve a purpose for racers on the Baja circuit. They’re designed to keep them safe and minimize the risks of damage and destruction.
But for everyday folks, they don’t make much sense. They aren’t safe for the driver or other motorists. Heck, they aren’t even safe themselves! And with auto prices higher than ever, who wants to risk unnecessary damage to their vehicle?
While this trend may be attention-grabbing, it’s not necessarily safe or worth investing in. But who knows? Someday, maybe squatted pickups will be as common as low-riders.
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