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Added Weight in 4X4 Pickup

I am arguing w/ someone who insists it’s necessary to put added weight in the bed of our truck when driving in 4W. I have a Silverado 1500 4 door short bed conversion truck (for my power wheelchair, which is heavy, plus the conversion stuff, more weight), we live 20 miles down a dirt road in MT, so we actually do need our truck. I think the weight distribution is fine, and in fact question if added weight in the bed might be counter productive. Does anyone have an opinion on this?


It’s NOT necessary. Never heard of that one.

The only time you would want to add weight is a 2wd pickup for driving in snow. Pickups have a very light rear…so adding weight will really help.

Absolutely, a 4 wd benefits from added weight to the bed, for handling alone. The added weight of a front diff, usually larger motor makes for worse handling, traction asside. When you see 4wd trucks off the side of the road, it’s often the ones with empty beds.

BUT."…If your conversion has added sufficient weight, then no problem…but in general, YES. More weight on the back of 4wd, within reason, helps traction ! I would experiment, if the added weight helps, do it. Sand bags are preferable. The devil’s in the details and we would need to actually know your present weight distribution.

I add sand bags to both our 4Runner and awd Rav. Both handle better and have better traction under all conditions then being too light. Both have abs, stability and traction control. Everything functions better with a well balance vehicle.

I’ll jump in the middle here. Is it necessary? No… but it can be helpful in certain situations. Most people who drive 4WD vehicles never go into areas where the extra weight is needed.

IMO, the best ride and traction is achieved with about 1/2 the full weight capacity in the bed. When completely unloaded, the rear end bounces around. Naturally, at the other end of the spectrum, when fully loaded, the weight balance is too tail heavy and the suspension may also hit the stops on large bumps. The larger the truck hauling capacity, the more apparent this becomes (to me) due to the stiffness of the suspension. It doesn’t hurt to appropriately adjust the tire air pressure to reflect the current loading either.

Necessary? No. Preferrable? Yes.

50-50 weight distribution, front and rear, will provide the best traction in a 4WD vehicle…Some vehicles meet this goal without any added weight but others (typically V8 powered P/U trucks) do not and they will benefit with a little added ballast in the rear…There is always a down-side to adding weight to a vehicle. Reduced mileage, slower acceleration, less responsive braking…

Add some weight only if you want to do it. If it handles the way you like it, leave it alone. People will tell you ANYTHING and will stick to one way as if it were the only way. “I’ll consider it, and if I feel it necessary I’ll do it.” Just keep repeating that until people shut up about it.

Miissleman. " most people never go into areas where weight is needed, " I agree that is the opinion of most, but… that is where the almost universal mistake is made. . "Areas " can be anywhere on the open road when an emergency handling situation demands it, and any snow and ice covered road. Ideally, 50/50 for handling, but for sheer traction In ice and snow conitions less then ground clearance, adding weight over the rear wheels till the springs break, works.

Thanks so much for the input. Pleasedodgevan2 you really nailed it. I’m mostly ticked at people telling me what to do.

"I’m mostly ticked at people telling me what to do. "
I hope not here. After all, you asked ! :=)

Good point dagosa. Truth of the matter is I am just looking to support my argument and don’t want to change my mind.

Only you and your knowledge of your own truck can determine that (“don’t want to change my mind”) as I tried to point out in my original post. In general, in all the 4wd vehicles I have had, if I needed to put it in 4wd, just to start or keep up with 2wd cars in snow, I needed extra weight. If the natural weight of my 4wd truck was enough to keep up with a comparable trucks with 2wd; you may not need it. In general, added weight always helps. But when you over do it, the trade off in lost mileage and worse handling and lost carrying capacity isn’t worth it. That’s where you are at…and if it works for you, that’s all that matters.
Have a great day.

I do have the attitude part right. It’s mud season in Maine and the traction situation changes in the wettest areas. You will know what you need anyway with experience that counts a lot more than opinion. One of my neighbors ran out to tell me I didn’t have to shovel the snow behind my truck to get it out because it wouldn’t get stuck. I told him he was right about it not getting stuck. I used the shovel for a minute and he could have stayed in his warm house. If I die while moving snow, he can smile at my funeral and I won’t care.

Pleasedodgevan2… I had to smile reading your account. I too live in Maine. I have a mid size tractor with a 5.5 wide snow blower on the PTO, a walk behind two stage blower and three neighbors with one to three quarter ton plow trucks who always used to offer to plow my drie for nothing on their way to work. Yet, I aways shovel my drive by hand, and will till I physically can’t. Then I 'll move to Florida. Something about we Maniacs…must be the water.

Thank you Guys for being honest-Kevin

Why not experiment for yourself? Bring along some extra weight and find a section of the road that is challenging, but not too challenging. Try the section with and without the weight. Having done this myself, I’ll bet you will have no noticeable difference, but you will be dragging weight you don’t need (which will lower your mileage and affect your handling). If you need to carry some extra weight, add a winch (or maybe a jack and a block and tackle, or whatever is most useful for your area – a good local shop can help you here).
One of the advantages of 4WD is it allows you to go more slowly over obstacles, and here, weight is not as relevant as traction to the drive wheels – if you need traction that badly consider a limited slip differential on the rear wheels.

Oh, forgot to add – a good driving school would probably do you far more good than extra weight.
The rate-limiting factor may be the wheelchair. I used one for my dad in a slippery and rough section of one of the local state parks – they had one fitted with wide ORV style tires and it was awesome.

Another thing about the ballast,dont put something back there that will freeze into a solid mass or cinder blocks or anything like that,that could come hurtling through the back window and kill or injure you in event of mishap-Kevin