State bill takes aim at ‘Carolina Squat’ trucks, citing safety concerns

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A new bill could limit certain truck modifications in North Carolina after safety concerns were raised, and a petition gathered thousands of signatures.

The Carolina Squat is a modification to a pickup truck or SUV where the front end is lifted and the rear is lowered. It’s popular among some enthusiasts in the Cape Fear, like Supply resident Reggie Thompson.

“I’m a born and raised southern country boy, so I like the whole thing, I like the whole vibe with the young guys,” Thompson said. “It’s a fashion statement, it’s not like a gang or anything.”

Thompson says the hobby is a labor of love.

“I bought the lift for it, put the lift on, it took me 12 hours to do that, me and another buddy of mine,” Thompson said. “It’s a really good custom build, I mean I put the exhaust, and everything else, the interior, the speakers, the subs.”

Despite their popularity, a new bill at the state level is aiming to level out those trucks. The effort began with a petition which has since gathered more than 70,000 signatures.

Some auto experts say banning squatted trucks could be in everyone’s best interest.

“I’m all for anybody wanting to personalize their vehicle, make it their own, I’ve been in several car clubs, car crowds, car culture most of my life,” said Wilmington mechanic TJ Barrow. “But when it comes to a safety concern, especially the safety of others on the roads, I’m not a fan of the Carolina Squat.”

Barrow says there are several concerns with squatted trucks.

“The suspension normally is maxed out to where there’s a lot of strain on the front end and it’s real loose in the rear end,” he said. “It can cause any type of drivability concerns whether it’s wearing out tires, abrupt maneuvers, it’s hard on the brake system. In most cases the headlights are in the trees.”

House Bill 692 would prohibit lifting a vehicle more than three inches in the front and lowering it more than two inches in the rear. Thompson says his truck is lifted six inches in the front and lowered a 1.5 inches in the back. He and other enthusiasts are hopeful a compromise can be reached.

“Maybe there can be somewhere in the middle where trucks can still be squatted, but just at maybe a lower limit if that’s what people are concerned as far as hazards and safety,” Thompson said.

The bill has been passed by the house, but must pass through the senate before going to Governor Roy Cooper’s desk for a signature. No word yet on when the bill will come before the senate.

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