The Definitive Guide to Truck Terminology

Updated on Mar 21, 2024

Language is odd, especially English. We come up with goofy, seemingly nonsensical terms and colloquialisms for practically everything, and any group or community has its own unique contributions. The truck community is no exception, birthing such odd terms as mudding, taco, and slushbox. But what do all these terms even mean? 

Whether you're a newcomer to the truck world or a veteran enthusiast trying to decipher the new slang terms, RealTruck is here to help. In this piece, we’re providing a comprehensive list of truck terminology, including assorted terms, definitions, and even example sentences. So sit down, settle in, and gear up for RealTruck’s definitive guide to truck terminology!

Common Slang Terms and Phrases

In this section, we’re covering the popular slang terms, expressions, and colloquialisms in the truck community. With such variety, we’ve taken the liberty of breaking this list into four categories, including class/configuration, off-road terms, parts/accessories, and fads/crazes.

Classes and Configurations

½-ton, ¾-ton, 1-ton

These terms refer to a vehicle’s classification according to its payload capacity. Originally, 1/2-ton pickups, like the Ford F-150, GMC Sierra/Chevy Silverado 1500, and RAM 1500 had a payload of half a ton, or 1,000 pounds. Additionally, ¾-ton pickups, like 2500 models, had a payload capacity of ¾ of a ton, or 1,500 pounds, and 1-ton pickups, like 3500 models, could haul a full ton, or 2,000 pounds, in the bed. While payloads are far higher in current-generation pickups, the classifications still exist.

Ex: “Nice truck! Is that a ½-ton or a ¾-ton?”


These terms are drive configurations depicting which wheels receive power and at which times. 2WD refers to two-wheel-drive, often used for rear-wheel-drive (RWD) applications. While front-wheel-drive applications are also driven by two wheels, they typically utilize the abbreviation FWD (front-wheel drive). 

AWD refers to all-wheel-drive vehicles, which typically refers to a drivetrain that sends power to all four wheels at all times. By comparison, four-wheel-drive (4WD) vehicles are typically selectable, meaning you can select between conventional 2WD and 4WD systems using the transfer case. In short: 






EX: “Let’s take my truck to the snow instead, It’s 4WD.”


This term refers to the weight a pickup can safely carry in the bed, as specified by the manufacturer. 

EX: “What’s the payload of this thing? I’m not sure it can carry a full load or gravel.”

Towing Capacity

This term refers to the weight a vehicle can safely tow, as specified by the manufacturer.

EX: “Don’t worry, this truck has plenty of towing capacity to manage that trailer!”

Short Bed/Long Bed

These terms refer to the standard bed lengths available on a truck. Typically, a short bed refers to a 6.5-foot bed, while a long bed refers to an 8-foot bed; however, this isn’t always the case. On some older Ford pickups, short bed pickups featured 7-foot long beds!

EX: “I wanted a short bed for drivability, but the long bed is great for hauling.”


A flatbed is an aftermarket bed style often used in commercial and agricultural work, featuring a wide, flatbed floor without boxed-in sides. These beds allow you to load, haul, and unload oversized cargo with ease. 

EX: “I’m thinking about installing a flatbed to make work on the ranch easier.”


A gasser is a vehicle with a gasoline-powered engine, as opposed to a diesel-burning engine. 

EX: “I originally wanted a diesel, but the gasser was a better deal!”

Oil Burner

This term refers to a diesel-powered vehicle. The term oil burner stems from diesel fuel’s high oil concentration used to lubricate lift pumps, injection pumps, and fuel injectors. 

EX: “I just rolled 300,000 miles on the old oil burner! It’s just getting broken in!”


This term is semi-derogatory, referring to a vehicle with an automatic transmission, as its shifts are often viewed as sloppy, slow, and imprecise.

EX: “Nice truck, beside the slushbox!”

Stick Shift

This term refers to a vehicle with a manual transmission, as the shift often resembled a stick protruding from the transmission tunnel! 

EX: “I don’t want an automatic; I’d rather have a stick shift.”


Dually refers to pickups with dual rear wheels on either side, for a total of four wheels and tires on the rear axle. These pickups are often used for industrial and agricultural work, as the added tires and track width significantly improve the payload and towing capacity. 

EX: “If we’re hauling the gooseneck trailer today, I’ll bring my dually.”


This abbreviation stands for Single Rear Wheel, referring to a conventional pickup with one rear wheel per side. 

EX: “Duallies are great if you’re hauling heavy, but I prefer a SRW truck for daily driving.”


This abbreviation stands for Independent Front Suspension, like the A-Arm setup found on most ½-ton pickup trucks and GM HD pickups. These suspension setups offer a better on-road ride; however, they’re often considered less durable than conventional solid-axle front suspension systems. 

EX: “Wow, this truck rides great! Does it have IFS?”

Straight Axle

Straight axle pickups feature a solid, one-piece front differential housing connected to solid axle tubes. This axle type is commonly viewed as robust; however, it’s known to provide a stiff, bumpy ride on the street. 

EX: “This truck drives great off-road; it’s because of the straight axle up front!”


Stepside pickups were a popular option in the mid-20th century through the 1990s. These pickups feature a narrow bed with flared bedsides and integrated bed steps. What stepside pickups lack in cargo space, they more than make up for in style! 

EX: “I love the look of stepside trucks; too bad you can’t even fit a piece of plywood in the back!”


Fleetside pickups feature conventional, cab-width beds with flat bedsides. 

EX: “I’m looking to replace my stepside bed with a fleetside.”


Dropside pickups are typically utility vehicles with hinged bedsides, essentially allowing you to convert a traditional fleetside bed into a flatbed! 

EX: “I’m glad we brought the dropside for this job, or it’d take forever to load this cargo.”


Ute, short for Utility Vehicle, is a type of pickup found throughout the world, except in North America. These pickups typically feature small engines, compact cabs, and unibody construction, similar to a car or a small SUV with a bed. 

EX: “I went to Australia and didn’t see a single F-250, just Utes!”

Off-Road Terms


The term rig typically describes a well-built, off-road vehicle that’s highly capable on the trail. Rigs include such features as lift kits, aftermarket bumpers, off-road lights, aftermarket wheels and tires, and various other accessories that set them apart from daily drivers. 

EX: “Nice rig; that thing dominated the trail!”


Wheeling is a synonym for off-roading. 

EX: “Me and the fellas are going wheeling this weekend; wanna join?”


This term refers to the suspension flex of your truck, specifically the droop of one side of the axle versus the other. When off-road, more articulation is better, allowing all four tires to remain on the ground for superior traction through even the trickiest obstacles. 

EX: “How’d you get so much articulation from your stock suspension? Did you disconnect the sway bars?”


This is another term that’s somewhat synonymous with off-roading; however, it more so centers on driving through deep, wet, sticky mud. 

EX: “Are you taking the Chevy out mudding tomorrow night?”

Parts and Accessories


Pumpkin refers to an axle’s differential housing or the large, somewhat round section that houses the differential gears. 

EX: “You smacked the pumpkin pretty hard on that last obstacle; you might want to ensure you aren’t leaking gear oil.”


No, it’s not what you’re thinking. LSD is an acronym for Limited-Slip Differential, referring to a differential style that, under most conditions, locks the rear wheels together for improved on and off-road traction. 

EX: “I was worried I wouldn't make it up that hill; good thing I have an LSD!”


A PTO, which stands for Power Take Off, is a worm-gear-style winch that receives power from a vehicle’s drivetrain or gearbox. 

EX: “I’ve considered upgrading to an electric winch, but my PTO setup works just fine!”

Stake Pockets

Have you ever wondered what the holes in your pickup’s bedsides are? Also known as stake pockets, these holes are used to hook or attach items to, like straps, truck racks, etc. 

EX: “If you can’t rear the tie-downs, just hook the strap onto a stake pocket.”

Headache Rack

Headache racks are a truck rack system consisting of two uprights near the cab and cross supports covering the rear window. These racks allow you to load oversized items, like ladders, above the cab without scraping or denting the body. Additionally, they protect the rear window while loading cargo. 

EX: “We wouldn’t need to make two trips if you had a headache rack!”

Mid Gate

A mid gate is a unique feature of several unibody pickups, like the Ford Maverick and Chevy Avalanche. This feature allows you to fold the bulkhead of a pickup into the cab to increase cargo space, allowing cargo to pass through the bed and into the passenger compartment. 

EX: “We have plenty of room; just drop the mid gate!”


This term refers to a vehicle’s moving parts after the engine. This usually consists of the transmission, transfer case, driveshafts, axle shafts, CV axles, and wheels. 

EX: “Yeah, the motor burns a bit of oil, but the drivetrain is solid!”


Powertrain refers to anything that propels your truck forward; this includes the engine, transmission, transfer case, driveshafts, and axles. Essentially, it’s the drivetrain plus the engine. 

EX: “Yeah, the body is rusty, but the powertrain is solid!”

Tow Mirrors

Tow mirrors are oversized mirrors used for increased visibility while towing. These mirrors typically feature oversized mirror heads, long arms, and integrated blind-spot mirrors. 

EX: “I finally picked up my dream trailer; now, I just need some tow mirrors from RealTruck so I can see!”

Styles and Fads

Bubba Truck

A Bubba Truck is a pickup running a lift kit and oversized tires on stock wheels. 

EX: “That’s a nice pickup; too bad it still has stock wheels. It looks like a Bubba Truck.”

Squatted Truck/Carolina Squat

A Squatted truck, also called Carolina Squat, refers to a pickup with a massive front lift and a stock or lowered rear end. These pickups are extremely popular on the East Coast, including the Carolinas; however, the modification has been banned in several states for safety reasons. 

EX: “You better buy some rear lift blocks; otherwise you’ll get a ticket for driving a squatted truck.”

Stanced Truck

This term refers to another popular style in which a truck’s wheels protrude extremely far from the body due to wide, low-offset wheels. These pickups often run 12–14-inch wide wheels and 12.50 or narrower tires, resulting in a “stretched” appearance. 

EX: “Did you see that stanced truck? You could almost see the barrel of the wheels with the amount of stretch on the tires!”

Cen-Cal Truck

Cen-Cal is a style originating in central California, involving heavily modified pickups with paint-matched plastics, billet aluminum grilles, and accessories, lift kits with chrome/polished components, and wide, low-offset wheels on stretched mud-terrain tires. 

EX: “I wish Cen-Cal trucks never went out of style; they’re so sick!”


This is another California-bred style inspired by high-speed off-road pickups used to blast through desert terrain. Prerunner pickups originally got their name due to their common tasks or pre-running off-road races to gauge the course before purpose-built racers had their go. These pickups typically feature wide, heavily modified independent front suspension, fiberglass fenders, oversized tires, and a rear-facing lean. 

EX: “Sweet prerunner, do you ever take it into the dirt?”


This term refers to pickups, typically with black paint jobs, black lighting, blacked-out chrome, black wheels, and hardly any coloring. 

EX: “Nice truck, I dig the murdered-out look!”


Similar to murdered-out, white-out refers to a white truck with all-white features, including painted white plastic trim, white-colored bumpers and accents, and sometimes even white wheels! 

EX: “That murdered-out truck was cool, but did you see the white-out RAM next to it?”

Street Queen

A street queen is a truck that never leaves the pavement. Though it may feature several off-road accessories, they’re never used! 

EX: “Nice street queen, I bet it's never seen a trail!”


An oversized pickup that’s outfitted to the gills with pointless accessories; picture a heavy-duty truck with a massive lift, oversized tires, extra-wide fender flares, aftermarket bumpers, and 10 lightbars…that never leaves the pavement. 

EX: “Check out that Brodozer over there; you think he can fit a third 50-inch light bar over the roof?”

Mall Crawler

A mall crawler is essentially a rig that never leaves the pavement, regardless of the thousands of dollars in off-road accessories. 

EX: “Wanna take that thing wheeling next week?” “No, it’s a mall crawler.”


The Big Three

This term refers to the three largest North American automakers: Chevrolet, Ford, and Dodge. 

EX: “It’s hard to believe Ford was the only one of the Big Three that didn’t take a government bailout during the 2008 crash.”


Chevy is an abbreviation of Chevrolet, commonly used in conversation and marketing. 

EX: “Nice Chevy!”


Hope you aren’t hungry, because we aren’t talking about food! Taco is a slang abbreviation for the Toyota Tacoma. 

EX: “How’s the Taco coming along? Did you get the lift installed?”


Jackknife involves a vehicle that’s towing a trailer that either turns too sharply or loses control, causing the front of the trailer to make contact with the bed. 

EX: “Things were going great until we hit that sharp turn and almost jackknifed."

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