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What Is a Squatted TruckYou may have heard the term “squatted truck” and wondered what exactly it’s referring to. In short, squatted trucks are dangerous, unstable, and, in some states, illegal. Here’s what you need to know about squatted trucks.

The Squatted Look

If you’ve ever seen a squatted truck, it likely left an impression on you. The rear is lowered, and the front end is lifted, making the truck look like it’s squatting. This practice is performed on SUVs and pickup trucks alike and is usually paired with massive, oversized wheels and low-profile tires.

The Origins of Squatted Trucks

Since the most common term for the phenomenon is the “Carolina Squat,” it would seem logical that the practice originated there. This is both true and false. While the specific type of squat that most people recognize most likely started in the Carolinas, the act of angling trucks to lean back actually started decades ago in California.

In Southern California, the Baja 500 and Baja 1,000 races take place in the dirt, and the trucks that compete in these races have extremely soft rear suspension to minimize the harshness of high-speed bumps. The result is that the trucks look like they lean back, which led to the term California Lean or Cali Lean.

Eventually, street trucks adopted the pose for style. Crucially, these trucks generally only squat down by a few inches, while Carolina Squats can have front-to-rear height differences of up to ten inches.

Why Are Squatted Trucks a Hazard?

There are several factors that make the Carolina Squat particularly problematic.

Visibility

Automotive designers create vehicle shapes and forms with a particular ride height in mind. Leaning a truck back makes forward visibility a challenge because both the dashboard and hood are blocking much of the forward view.

Headlight Usage

Thanks to the dramatic angle of the body, the headlights will shine into the sky rather than the road ahead. This reduces the driver’s nighttime vision and increases the risk of blinding oncoming drivers.

Handling

By changing the suspension geometry to such a high degree, weight is shifted in ways a truck’s designers never intended. In addition to being much harder on suspension components and tires, the handling also changes dramatically, and not for the better.

The ride gets much firmer in the rear, and the front wheels are much more softly sprung, reducing control when hitting bumps.

Oil Starvation

Oil starvation is another concern, as four-stroke engines aren’t meant to sit at an angle. Unless the vehicle has dry-sump lubrication or a 2-stroke engine, the oil will flow to the back of the crankcase where it can’t get drawn by the oil pump, leading to oil starvation and excessive engine wear — or failure.

Where Are Squatted Trucks Illegal?

It probably won’t surprise you that the first state to ban the squat was North Carolina, where a squatted truck lost control during a parade and killed a small girl. The next state to ban squatted trucks was Virginia, where a head-on crash involving a squatted truck took the life of a 27-year-old father.

While squatted trucks may suit an aesthetic, they also pose serious dangers that more states are recognizing — and addressing.

Summary: The Carolina Squat, where a truck is lowered in the rear and lifted in the front, is illegal in several states. Find out why squatting a truck is so dangerous.

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