Bulletproofing A Diesel Pickup Does Not Mean Indestructible.  The Term is Used Too Much.

Bulletproofing A Diesel Pickup Does Not Mean Indestructible. The Term is Used Too Much.

10th Jun 2016

I’m fairly certain I have been asked to bulletproof something at least two million times in the past year. I understand what they mean when they say it, but I’m not sure they understand what they are going to get exactly. Or rather what they should be able to do with a “bulletproofed” truck.

There are a couple examples that come to mind instantly. First would be the infamous 6.0 Powerstroke. There are several inherent design flaws in this engine that cause a few very common issues. Let’s use the head gasket issue for example. Unfortunately, International decided to only use four head bolts per cylinder instead of a surrounding six like most other engines. We have a hard design flaw that there isn’t a bunch we can do about. The only solution is to use a higher tensile fastener, like ARP head studs, to provide a higher clamp load along with getting the surfaces perfect when installing a new gasket. Does this make it better? Absolutely. Does it make it indestructible with no chance of ever blowing a head gasket no matter what? Absolutely not.

Another one we run into all the time is automatic transmissions. The high end, performance built transmissions also get the “bulletproofed” name tossed on them sometimes. This leads the customer to expect that no matter what they do, the transmission will take it. There is a limit. It is possible to get a high horsepower truck into situations where you can snap or slip things inside the toughest transmission. (usually comes with a healthy dose of stupidity or massive power)

There is a limit to what any mechanical part can take and then they will fail. Take a look at rock climb buggies. They have the biggest, best, and most expensive driveline parts. But if you expose them to enough abuse in just the right situation they still break them. Everything has its limit.

I have slowly grown to hate the term bulletproof because most customers relate it to indestructible. It’s kind of like the drive train in those rock buggies. If you put that in your daily driver pickup, you could be fairly certain you would never break it. If you had a lifted pickup with big tires you occasionally took off-road you would probably not break it ever. If you had a high horsepower lifted pickup that you took mudding all the time you might break one but probably something else would give up first. If you installed the drivetrain in your high horsepower pickup and used it like the guy in the video, you will break things. It’s just a matter of time. 

So the next time you are thinking about "bulletproofing" something, think about this video.  Am I going to install a rock buggy drive train in a street driven truck that will never see serious abuse?  Am I going to install it in a higher horsepower truck that sees some abuse?  Or do I run my stuff like the guy in this video?  I'm personally guilty of running all my stuff about like the driver in the video.  But I also fully expect even the toughest parts to give up at any time.  It's all relative.