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How much harder do trucks work on a ranch?


Effects of Ranch Life on Trucks
President Reagan and his ranch truck
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Even U.S. President Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan kept a red 1985 Ford Ranger pickup truck at their ranch (Rancho del Cielo) near Santa Barbara, Calif.

Ranchers tend to keep their trucks until they give out, and then they hold on to them for parts and storage. Because wear and tear is expected, they don't worry about dents or scratches. After years of driving on poor or no roads, ranch trucks may not look pretty, but they are dependable.

Because most ranch trucks haul heavy cargo, they get low gas mileage, and tires and gears must be replaced frequently. Automobile manufacturers recognize the importance of trucks to ranchers and the variety of needs and conditions in which they are driven, so some offer specialized vehicles aimed at ranchers and the like.

For example, Toyota's Tundra comes in a work package for industries like ranching and farming that require a truck with plenty of cargo space and towing capacity. The no-frills package replaces chrome bumpers with black bumpers, and rearview mirrors are manual instead of the newer power version. Farmers and ranchers may appreciate the washable vinyl bench seats and rubber floors, which make it easy to wash away dirt and other remnants of their job. In addition, the stripped-down work package eliminates most interior lighting and simply has warning lamps instead of gauges on the dashboard. [source: Western Farm Press].

Perhaps the most popular ranch truck is the Ford F-150 pickup. The half-ton, full-size pickup has been the best-selling vehicle in the U.S., outselling all other trucks and passenger cars [source: Ford Motor Company]. To accommodate hauling and off-road driving, Ford's 2010 Raptor version of the F-150 features improved suspension thanks to its base, which is 7 inches (18 centimeters) wider than an F-150. Experts describe the driving experience as "a magic carpet ride" or "a cross between a roller coaster and a bucking bronco" [source: Holt].

The Chevrolet Silverado may suit those ranchers who like luxury as well as ruggedness. After all, they spend much of their day behind the wheel. The full-size truck has a comfortable, fully appointed, leather interior. Reviewers say it can easily handle off-road driving over rocks, through streams, on loose gravel and up steep grades [source: Jones].

Given the hard work performed by ranch trucks, it's no wonder that cowboys develop an affection for these modern workhorses.

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