What It’s Like Driving a Pickup Truck with Tank Tracks
Normally, driving a pickup truck on snow and ice requires some good snow tires for better traction. And if the roads are really bad, you either add wheels or take a Sherp ATV. But there is an alternative: ditch the wheels, and give your truck tank tracks. More than a gimmick, these tracks transform how a truck behaves.
GMC Sierra Denali HD All-Mountain: how a truck changes with tank tracks
Originally a concept, the GMC Sierra Denali HD All-Mountain is now essentially a production truck. As The Drive explained, GMC originally built the truck in collaboration with Vail, Colorado’s ski resorts. But the concept proved so popular, and capable, The Drive reports, that GMC built a small fleet of them that drive up and down the slopes every day.
Like the original, each Sierra has a 6.6-liter turbodiesel V8, making 445 hp and 910 lb-ft, and four-wheel drive. The truck also gets several GMC accessories: reinforced step bars, weatherproof floor liners, and a bed-mounted sport bar with LED lights and audio system. The truck’s tank tracks come from Mattracks. They’re custom 150 Series tracks; GMC engineers modified the suspension slightly so they wouldn’t change the truck’s handling too much.
According to The Drive, at first, the GMC Sierra Denali HD All-Mountain seems almost like any other truck. But on the move, although the steering hasn’t changed, the driving experience has. The tank tracks give the 4WD truck enormous traction. So much so, they actually act like a mechanical regenerative braking system: there’s so much grip, the tracks slow the truck down without really needing to brake.
TFLtruck also drove the Sierra All-Mountain and came away very impressed. The tracks are fairly quiet, and the turning radius is smaller than one would expect from such a wide vehicle.
How to fit your own pickup truck with tank tracks
Unfortunately, GMC isn’t planning on a full production run of trucks with tank tracks. However, if you’re interested, there are several US suppliers that make these systems.
Mattracks, GMC’s supplier, makes a wide range of products that can fit anything from small SUVs to commercial trucks. Mattracks claims that even something like a Suzuki Samurai/Jimny can be fitted with its tank trucks.
There’s also American Track Truck, the company behind Nissan’s Rogue Warrior. The company’s Dominator tracks have also been used in a Diesel Brothers Nissan Titan build. The Dominator tracks can fit almost all passenger vehicles and ½-ton pickups, and even some ¾- and 1-ton trucks.
For both Mattracks’ and American Track Truck’s products, the tank tracks replace the truck’s wheels. Mattracks requires owners to fit some adapter brackets, and ATT’s tracks have adapter hubs. However, once these are installed, swapping between tires and tracks allegedly takes no more time than the average tire change. Just jack the truck up, remove the wheels, bolt the tracks in place, and you’re good to go.
There is, however, one kind of tank track that’s even easier to live with. Track N Go’s tank tracks bolt onto the truck’s wheels, rather than taking their place. Track N Go claims installation will take the average person 15 minutes.
However, while Track N Go’s products may be more convenient, they also won’t fit every single truck. Your truck must have 4WD with 4Lo capability, an automatic transmission, a locking or limited-slip rear differential, as well as non-off-road tires 31”-35” in diameter and no wider than 13”. In addition, Track N Go recommends having a locking front differential and heavy-duty cooling system for maximum speed and performance in deep snow.
Pricing and legality
Pricing varies depending on the kind of truck you’re planning on equipping with tank tracks. TFLtruck reported that the custom Mattracks 150s fitted to the Sierra cost about $10,000 per track, for a total cost of $40,000. However, for lighter trucks, that price will likely go down. In addition, the custom 150s came with all available options, including internal suspension.
However, even at that price, a heavy-duty truck with tank tracks would still be less expensive than a Sherp. It would also be faster. Mattracks, ATT, and Track N Go claim max speed for their track systems is 40 mph; the Sherp can’t do more than 25 mph.
Also, while the Sherp can ride on water, depending on your local and state laws, a truck with tank tracks is still street-legal. Both ATT and Track N Go report their tracks can drive on dry pavement just as well as on mud, snow, and ice.
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