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As truck owners search for different ways to achieve a custom look for their rides, they’ve raised suspensions to Monster Truck levels and lowered them to the point that speed bumps cause concern. The latest trend combines the two philosophies, dropping the truck’s rear suspension and raising the front. The squatted truck trend caused enough public backlash in North Carolina that it’s now known as the “Carolina Squat,” but is it different than the “California, or ‘Cali’ Lean?”

A squatted truck is usually a full-size pickup truck or large SUV with independent front suspension, but almost any vehicle is a candidate for modification. Of course, the most significant visual effect occurs on larger vehicles with long wheelbases. Additionally, since it nearly negates the advantage of owning a pickup truck, it mimics affluence signaling similar to displaying a set of fine china that never gets used. 

HotCars says, “we have social media to thank (or blame) for the Carolina Squat’s rise to popularity.” Judging by the number of social media groups and posts, it’s hard to argue otherwise. Since the trend gained popularity, it has amassed a sizeable following. 

Is it the California Lean, Tennessee Tilt, or Carolina Squat?

Investigating an abandoned Chevrolet pickup truck in Wilmington, North Carolina
An abandoned Chevy pickup in North Carolina | Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg via Getty Images

According to Way, all these names refer to the same raised front, lowered rear truck modification. The trend began as the Cali Lean in southern California as an homage to the trucks used in Baja Desert Racing. Like many other fashion fads, the movement spread eastward across the United States, sparking public outrage in North Carolina, where the governor etched the moniker Carolina Squat into law early last year. 

Is the Carolina Squat mod a good idea?

You’re likely breaking the law if you operate a squatted truck in North Carolina or Virginia. South Carolina is attempting to follow by adopting its own version of the law banning the Carolina Squat, according to The Post and Courier. Additionally, The Steinberg Law Firm of South Carolina says owners of “Squat” trucks incur liability for accidents otherwise avoidable if not for the modification. 

The Carolina Squat modification could increase the likelihood of an accident by interfering with the driver’s view in front of the vehicle and causing loss of control due to damaged suspension and brakes. Additionally, incorrectly aimed headlights could reduce the nighttime visibility of oncoming drivers. 

It’s also possible that squatted truck’s geometry could cause excessive damage to any vehicle they strike. If proven in court, this could expose the truck’s owner to additional liability and damages not covered by motor vehicle insurance.

If legal and liability concerns aren’t enough, consider the detrimental effects on the vehicle. First, the Carolina Squat mod reduces a pickup truck’s ability to perform its intended function. Lowering the rear suspension reduces the truck’s payload capacity, and the increased angle makes towing a trailer dangerous, if not impossible.

Next, the lack of rear suspension travel and reduced ground clearance make taking the truck even slightly off-road difficult. While not everyone wants to drive off-road, even navigating speedbumps and railroad tracks could lead to damaged components and rear body panels.

Finally, squatted trucks could incur additional damages and charges if they require tow truck services. So if you’re stuck on the side of the road, the tow truck company may have to dispatch specialized equipment to move a squatted truck. The additional equipment not only costs more, but it could take several hours to arrive.

Related The Origins of the ‘Carolina Squat’ Aren’t in North or South Carolina

The Origins of the ‘Carolina Squat’ Aren’t in North or South Carolina