Are Squatted Pickup Trucks Actually Legal?

A squatted truck is modified with a lifted front end and a stock or lowered rear end. At the time of this writing, North Carolina and Virginia have laws governing squatted trucks and South Carolina is in the midst of drafting a similar law. But there is no federal law against squatting your pickup truck.

Why are squatted trucks banned?

A turquoise-colored squatted pickup truck parked in a field, trees visible in the background.
Squatted Chevrolet Silverado 1500 | Whistlin Diesel via Youtube

The reason the Virginia and North Carolina governments have cited for banning squatted trucks is reduced visibility. Lifting the front and lowering the rear makes it difficult to see out the windshield and over the hood.

In Virginia specifically, you can lift the front of your truck, but the front cannot be more than four inches higher than the rear. South Carolina is in the midst of passing its own law regulating squatted trucks. This is ironic because many fans of squatted trucks refer to the modification as the “Carolina Squat.” Alternative names include the “Cali Lean” and “Tennessee Tilt.”

Some fans of squatted trucks argue that the real reason legislatures are targeting their modified pickups is old-fashioned close-mindedness. It is true that every generation of enthusiasts finds new ways to modify their vehicles. In addition, modifications that are popular today were once ridiculed by the old guard. But there is evidence that squatted trucks may be dangerous.

Is it hard to drive a squatted truck?

A dramatically squatted pickup truck with its Chevy Silverado badge visible is parked in the middle of a lot.
Squatted Chevrolet Silverado 1500 | Whistlin Diesel via Youtube

The most dangerous aspect of a squatted truck is its reduced visibility. A combination of the truck’s squatted position and the driver’s reclined seating position make seeing out the windshield difficult. It is especially difficult to see pedestrians in front of a squatted truck.

Installing a forward-facing “parking” camera on the bumper of a squatted truck goes a long way toward increasing your low-speed visibility around parking lots. But higher speeds are another issue entirely.

In February 2022, a squatted 2016 Silverado ran headlong into another truck in Virginia, killing the second truck’s driver. Even though the 19-year-old driver of the squatted truck crossed the center line, ABC 8 speculated that he did so because he couldn’t see that there was oncoming traffic. The accident inspired Virginia’s recent ban.

Critics of squatted trucks have other complaints as well: Squatting a truck also affects the focus of its headlights. More importantly, squatting changes the geometry of a truck’s suspension–thus affecting handling.

The truth is that lifting a truck at all negatively impacts its on-road handling, and it is unclear whether squatting is significantly worse than other lifts. In addition, a properly modified squatted truck should have its headlights adjusted at the same time.

What is a squatted truck for?

A squatted truck owner drives his pickup off of a travel trailer, trees visible in the background.
Squatted Chevrolet Silverado 1500 | Whistlin Diesel via Youtube

Squatting your pickup truck is a way to express your unique style. This puts it in the same category as the countless other ways enthusiasts visually modify their vehicles. Squatting trucks is a new trend, and very popular among young drivers trying to set their trucks apart from the crowd.

There are tons of myths surrounding squatted trucks. Here’s the truth: A squatted truck is not better at drag racing. In fact, drag racers sometimes do the opposite, raking their vehicles forward, so they settle into a neutral position as they accelerate.

Also, squatting a truck is rarely cheaper than a regular lift. Most lift kits come with front and rear components, and squatted truck modifiers toss the rear lift components. If you can purchase front and rear lift components separately, it is the front end that is the most complex and expensive to lift.

There is a good chance that squatting trucks is a trend that arose simultaneously in several parts of the U.S.A: California, Tenessee, the Carolinas, and the Dakotas. In California, at least, it might have become popular as a way to emulate the stance of desert-racing Baja trucks.

Next, read more about the controversial origins of squatted trucks or watch Custom Offsets video on the various names of squatted trucks here:

Squatted trucks can be easy to make fun of. See the guys at Whistlin Diesel poking a bit of fun at themselves in this final video:

Finally, you can check out a squatted truck for yourself with Whistlin Diesel’s squatted Silverado reveal in the video below:

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