Chevy Truck Names: What the Heck Do They Mean?

Last Wednesday, we talked about Curb Weight, GVWR, GCWR, GAWR, payload capacity and how “tonnage” slang terminology is not reality.  Now, let’s put all of that great knowledge to use by deciphering the name’s of Ford, Chevy, and GMC trucks.  The automotive slang is in quotes for your reference.  To determine which truck you have, just look at the 5th digit of the VIN number.  This is the digit of the VIN that tells you the series of the vehicle.  Interesting in learning more about deciphering your vehicle’s VIN number? For Chevy and GMC full size trucks built after 1980, it will be C, K, R or V.  Oooooh, a secret code? Read on….

Chevy C/K Trucks

C-Series Truck = 2 Wheel Drive (1960-2002)

K-Series Truck = 4 Wheel Drive (1960-2000)

C10 = “½ Ton” 2wd (1960-1987)
C20 = “3/4 ton” 2wd (1960-1988)
C30 = “1 Ton” 2wd (1960-1988)

K10 = “½ Ton” 4wd (1960-1987)
K20 = “3/4 ton” 4wd (1960-1988)
K30 = “1 Ton” 4wd (1960-1988)

C1500 = “1/2 Ton” (1988-1999)
C2500 = “3/4 Ton” (1988-2000)
C3500 = “1 Ton” (1988-2002)

K1500 = “1/2 Ton” (1988-1999)
K2500 = “3/4 Ton” (1988-2000)
K3500 = “1 Ton” (1988-2000)

Chevy R/V Trucks

R-Series Truck = 2 Wheel Drive (1987-1991)

V-Series Truck = 4 Wheel Drive (1987-1991)

R10 = “½ Ton” 2wd (1987-1988)
R20 = “3/4 ton” 2wd (1987-1988)
R30 = “1 Ton” 2wd (1987-1988)

V10 = “½ Ton” 4wd (1987-1988)
V20 = “3/4 ton” 4wd (1987-1988)
V30 = “1 Ton” 4wd (1987-1988)

R1500 = “1/2 Ton” ( Didn’t Exist!?)
R2500 = “3/4 Ton” (1989)
R3500 = “1 Ton” (1989-1991)

V1500 = “1/2 Ton” (Didn’t Exist!?)
V2500 = “3/4 Ton” (1989)
V3500 = “1 Ton” (1988-1991)

Let’s see examples!

Imagine you have a truck with VIN #:

1GCDC14H3G……. = 1986 Chevy C10 (2wd, 1/2 ton)

2GCEK19K0J……. = 1988 Chevy K1500 (4wd, 1/2 ton)

1GCHR33N7J……. = 1988 Chevy R3500 (2wd, 1 ton)

Fun Stuff, Right?

Now that you understand Chevy Model Names, check out this great read about what the letter in GM’s body styles mean.

Ford also has a model naming convention that you can learn more about! Check out our article on Ford truck names.


Ford Truck Names: What the Heck Do They Mean?

Earlier this week, we talked about Curb Weight and payload capacity and also how “tonnage” slang doesn’t really apply any longer.  Now, let’s put all of that great knowledge to use by deciphering the name’s of Ford, Chevy, and GMC trucks.  In this article, we’ll focus on Ford, which is a bit easier to understand than our earlier post on Chevy truck names.  For your reference, the automotive slang is in “quotes.”

Ford Truck’s

F100 Truck = “1/2 Ton”
(1953-1982) 4000-5000 GVWR

F150 Truck = “1/2 Ton”
(1975-Current) ~6000 GVWR. The F150 started life as a heavy duty alternative to the F100 (“Nicknamed the “Heavy Half Ton”, it was allegedly intended to dance around new emissions regulations.)

F150 Truck with “7700” Package = “1/2 Ton” Heavy Duty
(1997-04) 7700 GVWR

F250 Truck = “3/4 ton”
(1953-1999) 8500 GVWR

F250 Heavy Duty Truck = “3/4 ton”
(1992-97) 9000 GVWR (Essentially an F350 with F250 badges)

F250 Super Duty Truck = “3/4 ton”
(1999-Current) 8800 GVWR

F350 Truck = “1 ton”
(1953-1997) 10000 GVWR

F350 Super Duty Truck= “1 ton”
(1999-Current) 9900-11200 GVWR
Continue Reading

Totally Gross: Vehicle Weight Ratings 101.


Half ton, one ton, three quarter ton, etc…  The funny thing about tonnage ratings is that they are still thrown around today but were only really accurate up into the 1960’s.  Since then, “tonnage” has become a slang way of separating the light, medium, and heavy duty truck models. Back when tonnage was accurate, it was a measurement of the truck’s Payload Capacity.

Payload Capacity = Passengers + Cargo weight. This means the weight of the people, gas, beverages, rocks, mud, and yes even the pet raccoon that lives under the seat. This does not include the weight of the vehicle or any sort of towing number nonsense.   In a perfect world……

1/2 ton truck = Safely carry 1000 lbs of people and cargo

3/4 ton truck = Safely carry 1500 lbs of people and cargo

1 ton truck = Safely carry 2000 lbs of people and cargo

Unfortunately, those ratings have become vague guidelines on all trucks newer than the 1960’s. Continue Reading

OEM vs Aftermarket: Are Auto Parts Created Equal?

Being in the aftermarket auto parts bizzz, I often find myself verbally battling with guys that are hardcore OEM auto parts only.  They usually say “I only buy OEM auto parts because “aftermarket stuff” never fits, works, lasts, etc.”  They usually have an example of a part that they bought from a local auto part store that didn’t work out for them for whatever reason.  Fair enough, we’ve all been there.  Now, I have absolutely no problem with OEM parts by any means.  In fact, before working for 1A Auto, I was a technician at a Cadillac dealer using all OEM parts.  Needless to say, I’m quite familiar with a wide range of auto parts.  Do bad OEM parts exist?  Absolutely! (Just ask anybody that has owned a Cadillac Catera (Sorry, I had to…))  Do bad aftermarket auto parts exist?  Absolutely.  However, not all auto parts are created equal. So let’s talk about it.

We’ll start our examples with a company that does really exist and everybody knows of them because they make absolutely fantastic suspension products.  I’m leaving the name out because the auto parts that they build are more relevant than their name.  For now, let’s call them “Company X”.   Now, the way I understand it, about 50% of the suspension parts that Company X produces are OEM parts for brand new cars.   Naturally, they also produce extra’s for the car dealer’s to stock in their parts departments.  It would be in an OEM brand name box, but it is actually built by Company X.  When the OEM’s need a part produced, Company X  is given specs by the vehicle manufactures and as you may guess, they build these auto parts to the exact specifications that they are given.  The OEM engineers really only need these parts to last as long as the car’s suspension warranty, without compromising safety or their own brand name in the process.  All the parts function as they are designed to, but long term, some parts are better than others.

The other 50% of the auto parts that Company X produces are what I call “high quality aftermarket auto parts”. They are Company X’s aftermarket brand, built to their own specs, which are vastly improved over the OEM parts (if they need to be).  They find the faults of the original designs and they correct them for their aftermarket brand because Company X wants them to last forever.  Everything is greaseable (as suspension parts should be), and engineered to be better than the OEM’s originally wanted. It may be a visible change in the look, or it may look identical and be internally changed. In some cases the OEM part doesn’t need to be improved upon, and the high quality aftermarket part brand is the same exact part as OEM but without the part numbers marked on them.

On the other hand, there are the cheaper options available out there which I call “low quality aftermarket auto parts”. These are typically the ones that can give “aftermarket parts” as a whole a bad name.  The reason that they are the cheapest price is because they are the cheapest to produce.  Being the cheapest to produce rarely equals the highest quality.  The unfortunate truth to these parts is that you don’t really know if this is the part that you are buying until you attempt to attach it to your car. Before long, you need torches and welders to make it fit, and you need a new one in a few weeks.

Now you can’t talk about OEM vs Aftermarket auto parts without talking about price.  Here’s the way it works.  Since the average consumer can only buy OEM parts through car dealers,  the dealers can charge a premium.  There is typically minimal price differences between dealers because their doesn’t need to be.  They control the flow of OEM parts.  Aftermarket parts are different because you can have multiple manufacturers of similar products.  You can count on all of them being priced less than an OEM part from a dealer, but the quality can vary greatly.  High quality aftermarket parts are priced far less than the dealer, but sold from a variety of different outlets which means competition and a super high quality part at a competitive price.  Then there are the cheap (and I do mean cheap) low quality aftermarket parts.  They will be priced the lowest, and may or may not be what you want when you open the box. “EEEK! What is that!?”

So although my opinion may appear to biased because of my position, I’ll give it to you anyway.  I prefer the high quality aftermarket parts over OEM because I know what goes into them, and the price is right of course.  Want more? Ok, fine. Recently I installed some new ignition coils in my wife’s RX8 as a general maintenance procedure.  I took a few pictures for OEM vs aftermarket comparisons.  The new ones were perfect in  every way, and the RX8 is happier than ever.  (OEM’s are on the left side of the picture, and the 1A Auto coils are on the right.)



So how do you tell a quality aftermarket auto part company from the others? Take a look at what else they have to offer you, including warranties and guarantees, USA based customer service, installation videos, engaging blog articles and other automotive content, etc. If it looks like they care, they probably do.

Drag Racing For The First Time


First thing’s first.  If you have never drag raced before, you need to.  I don’t care if you have a busted 1988 Ford Tempo or not.  If it has gas in it, you need to drive it to the track and put it to the test.  What? You are nervous?  You want to know how it all works? Ok, I will give you a run down of how it all works so that you aren’t such a scaredy cat.  Then you will be able to go to the track and report back your results.  My perspective is from our local drag strip known as New England Dragway in Epping NH.

Every Wednesday and Friday during the warm weather months, NED has “Street Nights” where you can run basically any car you drove there as long as you meet the safety requirements.  Then on some Saturday’s and most Sundays, they have “Test n’ Tune” days, which is much like a street night, but with some slightly different rules, which often leads to faster cars.  The safety requirements are pretty much what you would expect.  If your car is capable of going faster than a 14 second quarter mile, then you need to be wearing a helmet.  Your seat belt needs to work, you need to remove your hub caps, and you need to have a clutch switch.  There are a few other things that the tech inspector will want check out, but it is really just basic “is your car safe” type stuff.  They also want to know what engine you have and how much horsepower you make.  This means that you can’t stuff 1700 hp into your Tempo and tell the tech inspector that you intend to run 17’s @ 71 mph without a helmet.  He won’t believe you.

Let’s back up a minute and start at the beginning.  You cruise your car up to the front gate of the track because trailering your car  makes you less cool, I think.  Then you pay some kind of entrance fee and you receive a ticket.  You thank the young lady for the entrance ticket, and then promptly stall out your truck….. I mean Tempo…… ultimately making you look like a total noob.  Fail #1.  Ok, so now you cruise on over to the tech inspector area which conveniently looks like a bunch of parking spots, because it is.  He will tell you to go sign the waiver and get a wrist band at the little booth near the edge of the parking lot.  You immediately do whatever he says because you want to be friends with him, and then quickly jog back to go over your vehicle with the inspector.  He isn’t trying to ruin your life, he is just trying to make sure that you will have a safe day of racing.  He checks off about 100 boxes on a piece of paper, and then signs his name at the bottom. Do a celebration fist pump. Do it.

Ok, at this point, you are ready to race, and since your vehicle is slow, you don’t need to wear your snell 95 approved helmet that you didn’t bring.   If you are lucky, a friend will come over and let you know that your first run is going to be awful, so keep your 10 second fast and furious dreams on the backburner for now.  It’s officially go time.  Buckle up and head over to the starting line.  There will be a few guys there directing you where to go. Drive around the waterbox for your first run. You aren’t John Force, and don’t need to heat up your Blizzak snow tires.  Before you make it up to the starting line, take a look at the bottom of the walls near the tree (flashy lights) in the center of the track.  You will notice a few little holes in a row, which have light beams going across the track.  These are where your front tires will land right before the race begins.  The light beams send a signal to the flashy tree lights so that everybody knows where your car is at.

Slowly straighten your Tempo out and inch your way up to the starting line.  Key word: Slooooowly.  Ok, now begin watching the tree in the center.  The top set of lights will turn yellow when you reach the first set of staging light beams. Now inch a litttttttle bit further to light up the 2nd set of yellow lights.  When that happens, you are officially “staged”, and read to run down the track.  Take a deep breath and wait for the lights to begin dropping. They will begin lighting up from the top to bottom of the tree with about a second in between each one. When the green light glows, bury the go-pedal into the floor and hold on.

BaaAA……clunk…….BaaaaaAAAA……..clunk……Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaa…………. Uuuugggghhhhhhhh

About 20 seconds will pass if your Tempo is at the top of its game, and you will cross a yellow stripe on the track which just lead you to victory.  That is the finish line. WOOO!  Now hit the brakes already!!  At the end of the track, you make the turn, and start back up the pit road.  There will be a small booth with somebody in it handing you your time slip.  Don’t stall your vehicle out and look like a dweeb again.  The ticket will have a bunch of numbers on it that show you how you did.

It will look something like this:

R/T = .300     (.300 seconds is the time it takes between the green light, and when you actually went.)
60′ = 2.224         (2.224 seconds is what it takes for you to drive 60 feet.)
330′ = 6.117       (6.117 seconds is what it takes for you to drive 330 feet.)
1/8 = 9.269        (9.269 is the amount of seconds it takes for you to drive 1/8 mile.)
mph = 77.85      (77.85 is the mph that you were at when you crossed the 1/8th mile.)
1000′ = 11.977 (11.977 is the amount of seconds it takes for you to drive 1000 feet.)
1/4 = 14.257      (14.257 is the amount of seconds it takes for you to drive the 1/4 mile.)
mph = 98.49       (98.49 is the mph that you were at when you crossed the 1/4th mile.)

Now you are addicted to drag racing, and it becomes all that you can think about.  It is more fun than human words can express, even if you are driving awful slow.  Good luck, and keep it together (figuratively and literally.)

14B VS. EVO VIII 16G Photo Comparison

EVO VIII 16G Compressor

14B VS. EVO VIII 16G Photo Comparison

Recently I installed an EVO VIII 16G turbo on my 6-bolt 4G63 engine swapped 1989 Dodge Ram 50 truck. Since I love seeing how things work, I decided to take them apart and compare them. As you can see in the pictures below, the EVO 8 turbo is a twin scroll and the 14B is not.  The wastegate is far larger on the EVO turbo as well, which is very good news because the 14B internal gate is less than impressive.  Naturally the compressor and turbine wheels are a bit more elaborate on the 16G as well.

My Hypothesis: Math says the EVO VIII 16G should flow about 50% more air than the 14B did, which means more air at less pressure, less heat soak, and twin scroll should make the spool time between the 16G and 14B negligible.

Results from the butt dyno:  The 14B was set at 18PSI and was a lot of fun, because it could break the rear tires loose in 1st and 2nd gear when the turbo spooled.  With the new turbo on and the wastegate plugged directly into the intercooler piping (stock actuator pressure is about 12psi I believe), the truck was neeeearly as fast as the 14B at 18PSI.  It spools at about 150 rpm more than the 14B, and the boost came on so much smoother.  Once I got used to the new turbo, and made sure everything was functioning properly, I cranked the boost up to 20 to see what would happen.

Tire spin in 3rd is what happened.

Traction Bars: Somewhere in the back of my mind, I had a vision of my rear differential wrapping up and ripping my driveshaft apart.  I knew that my truck’s suspension wasn’t exactly designed for 250+ hp, and since I know my stock / lowered suspension was on borrowed time, I decided traction bars would be a smart idea.  Not only would they prevent my truck’s axle from flipping over backward and turning my driveshaft into a pogo stick, but, it might actually provide traction through my Z rated 255/45/18’s!  In went the new traction bars.

As if by some miracle, almost all of my missing traction was back again!  I couldn’t believe it!  These things really work! Now I can keep traction in 2nd gear (if I want), and spinning the tires in 3rd just plain won’t happen no matter how hard I try.

WIN is the word, EVO VIII is the reason, TRACTION BARS is how.

Hybrid Math & Volts: Where is the Positive?

hybrid math

I really do want to like electric and hybrid cars, but they still don’t make any sense to me.  Last year, I was discussing with some friends the pros and cons of buying a Toyota Camry Hybrid over a 2.4L gas Camry strictly based on fuel savings.  My hypothesis was that if you are buying a hybrid strictly for fuel saving purposes, you are buying it for the wrong reason because the additional $5955 purchase price of the vehicle was never going to be outweighed by the savings in gas.  I did some research and crunched some numbers at the time, and this is what I came up with.

Let’s assume you drive 15k miles per year.
Let’s also assume gas is $3.00 a gallon.
Let’s assume you want to buy a new Camry.
Avg = 50/50 mix of city and hwy driving.

2009 Camry 2.4L Automatic
mpg city – 21 (on Toyota website)
mpg hwy – 31 (on Toyota website)
mpg avg – 26 (my math)
price $20,195 (on Toyota website)
city – 714.29 gallons per year = $2142.87 (my math)
hwy – 483.87 gallons per year = $1451.61 (my math)
avg – 576.92 gallons per year = $1730.76 (my math)

2009 Camry 2.4L Hybrid
mpg city – 33 (on Toyota website)
mpg hwy – 34 (on Toyota website)
mpg avg – 33.5 (my math)
price $26,150 (on Toyota website)
city – 454 gallons per year = $1362 (my math)
hwy – 441 gallons per year = $1323 (my math)
avg – 447.76 gallons per year = $1343.28 (my math)

city driving savings = $780.87 per year
hwy driving saving = $128.61 per year
avg driving saving = $387.48 per year

Years of driving to offset gas savings.
city – 7.62 years
hwy – 46.30 years
avg – 15.36 years

In conclusion, for the gas to offset the price of the vehicle, with 50/50 city & hwy driving, you need to own it for 15.36 years to offset the price the savings in gas mileage. Interesting.

So now 2010 is wrapping up, and I find myself wondering what all the hype is over the Chevy Volt. (Full disclosure:  I have never seen one in person, let alone driven one because I am not a cool enough blogger yet to be given cars to test drive.)  I have been told by friends how great this car is, and how it’s “totally electric”, and “sooooo awesome!”  Naturally, I am a skeptical gearhead.

I started with wikipedia (I know. I know.), and learned the basics. The car apparently has two electric motors with a battery pack running down the center of the car that powers them.  People on the internet (obviously trustworthy ones) say that close to $10K of the total cost of the vehicle is the battery pack itself, ouch!  The Volt has the capability of driving up to 40 miles on that battery pack alone.  This would obviously be great for city driving and people with super short commutes.  From what I have gathered, charging this battery from your house will be the equivalent of paying $1.60 per gallon of gas, but without emissions. Well…..sorta.  Obviously there is emissions at some electrical energy plant offsetting your exhaust pipe, but we won’t get into that.  Moving forward……

Let’s say you want to take a nonchalant cruise up to the Kangamangus highway to check out the scenic foliage.  Uh oh, it’s more than 40 miles away! What are you going to do!?  Don’t sweat it, the Volt will just start up it’s very own 4 cylinder 1.4L gas engine that generates electricity for you when your batteries reach a 30% charge.  Ummm, wait a sec.  I thought this was an electric car? Well, it is, the wheels are driven by electric motors, thus, it’s electric! (Boogie woogie woogie). It just has a gas engine for when you want to drive more than 40 miles in 1 shot. Oh and that engine only takes high octane fuel, which is right about $3.00 a gallon here in Massachusetts.  Now, according to the NY Times article here they got 52 mpg average for their day of test driving and 44.5 mpg in E.V. mode.  I’m guessing that “E.V. mode” means that the 4 cylinder generator was running.

Uh oh, the devil’s advocate just entered the party….   If the 2000 Geo Metro (1.0L gas engine) could get between 41 and 47 mpg ten years ago without any electric motors, extra batteries, and without the $20K + more initial cost, is the Volt really doing anything that great?   The answer seems to be a complicated one.  The Volt obviously has a boat load more technology, comfort, options, and coolness factor than the metro ever did.  Unfortunately, it still has a 4 cylinder engine in it that produces emissions and is listed in the same emissions category as the Chevy Malibu, which has a normal gas engine.  So emissions wise, the Volt isn’t “officially” better than a normal gas engined car of similar size.  Fuel mileage is better than many family sedans out there but is still not cutting edge considering dozens of vehicles 15 years ago could do just as well.  The price, well, it is more than most comparable (size, shape) sedans out there. At least you get a rebate to make you feel good? If you are doing mostly city driving within 40 miles of your home, and have a little cash tucked away for a new toy, then this is probably a great car for you. If not, I’d wait a generation or two for them to sort out the whole system and improve upon it a bit further. I appreciate the technology and hard work going into it, but it still doesn’t make much sense to me.