I really enjoyed your column (Firing Order) in the June issue and it inspired me to share the story of my father-in-law’s ’13 Toyota Tundra. Gerald Haynes was a longtime gearhead and all-around truck guy. He owned many trucks and 4x4s over the years including an old Power Wagon, a Bronco that he put tons of miles on, a ’57 Chevy truck, a 4Runner, and he even restored a ’67 GTO in his younger days.
Jerry was a Navy veteran who served during the Vietnam War, and he was proud of serving his country. In his professional career Jerry was a Master Grader Operator and worked diligently on most of the roads throughout his home state of Michigan for more than 30 years. He made many friends over the years from working on the roads to the car shows that he would attend. Jerry was willing to sit down and talk with anyone.
Unfortunately, Jerry passed over a year ago now. He was very happy under the palliative care of our local VA hospital, and he comfortably enjoyed his last days with us. Before his passing Jerry informed us that he put a life insurance policy on his very beloved Tundra. The policy stated that my wife was to inherit the truck and that the policy would pay the outstanding balance on the loan.
Jerry loved his Tundra and he was proud of the fact that he “picked it right off the showroom floor.” It’s a ’13 TRD SR5 with the 5.7L and tow package including 4.30 gears. Jerry used and enjoyed the truck’s ability to tow his large (36-foot) camper trailer, and he made multiple trips from Michigan to Arizona and Florida. The truck always performed great for Jerry, but he did eventually install a Firestone Ride-rite load leveling kit in the rear and a drop-in K&N air filter element.
Since Jerry’s passing we have worked hard to honor him through his truck that he loved so much. We now use only Amsoil Signature Series oil and TRD filters. We’ve also replaced the factory tires with BFG A-TS in the stock size and load range E. Jerry had his End-of-the-trail front license plate on all of his trucks over the years, so we felt it appropriate to install it on the Tundra as well.
The TRD package gives this truck an auto limited-slip differential in the rear axle and A-trac to control the front diff. With the addition of the A-TS this truck has plenty of off-road ability for taking Jerry’s granddaughter two-trackin’. The factory Bilstein shocks and skidplates help with the peace of mind to push the stock suspension through some nice terrain around Michigan.
Jerry chose this truck for the uses that were important to him at that point in his life. Those uses were centered around being able to travel the country and see distant family members that had been difficult to spend time with during his working days. He towed his home with him and got to spend some very quality time with the people that were held dearest to him.
After reading your column about the different ways we can consider a 4x4 “good” I instantly thought of my beloved father-in-law and friend. He certainly thought that his Tundra was a good 4x4.
BENJAMIN SWINSON VIA EMAIL FW