Gearing Down: Mayer also believes that The Grapevine claims many vehicles "that are inadequately geared." By this he means that vehicle owners are running the wrong size differential gears.
Let's say the truck is fitted with a rear axle ratio of 3.08:1, which is fairly common. This gear ratio ensures good fuel economy, but may not deliver enough power to the rear wheels for optimum towing performance. The end result is a lagging engine and a hot transmission--a deadly combination.
But a truck equipped with a lower axle ratio (4.10:1, for example) can pull a load more easily with less heat buildup. This is especially important if your truck pulls heavier loads such as big bass boats. The tradeoff is higher fuel consumption, which is still cheaper than a transmission rebuild (see Chapter 6).
Simple Formula: The tanks are full. I'm ready to head up to Castaic to chase bass, but The King is still holding court. So I ask, "George, other than transmission work, what's the most common repair you see here?"
"The most common repair we see now is usually related to maintenance. For example, lately we've been seeing a tremendous number of people with pre-1990 carbureted vehicles that are hauling pretty good loads. These vehicles aren't set up for the newer fuels, some of which act as cleaning agents in the fuel tanks. And that can result in plugged fuel filters.
"It's actually pretty preventable if you do regular maintenance. If the filters were changed before the trip...."
"They wouldn't have to make a stop here, would they?" I say.
George smiles. He's seen it all up along The Grapevine.
The intricacies of towing can fill an engineer's notebook with fine print, but for most of us it boils down to a simple formula. If you want maximum towing or load-hauling performance, match the vehicle to the weight, keep the transmission cool, and perform regular routine maintenance. Basic advice. For my money, it's worth a king's ransom.