By Tom Morr, photos by the manufacturers
The automotive aftermarket unveils its new products annually at the SEMA trade show in Las Vegas. Of the hundreds of innovations on display, we picked a dozen that stood out this year. These parts are engineered to improve towing, ergonomics, safety and the overall pickup-owning experience. As a bonus, we added award winners in applicable categories.
Super Duty Air Bags
Hellwig's Big Wig heavy-duty tow/haul line now includes an application for 1999-2010 Ford Super Dutys. Large diameter bags require less pressure for bed-leveling, which translates to a smoother ride. The bags extend to 14 inches.
In-Mirror Backup Camera
Mito's new Gentex Auto-Dimming Rearview Mirror is also a backup camera display. When the vehicle is in reverse, the left side of the mirror shows images from the backup camera. Available OEM-quality cameras integrate into license plate frames, tailgate handles or even trim badges. Other available mirror features include compass, thermometer and HomeLink.
Rigid's Black Diamond line embeds LED lights into aftermarket grille applications for popular late-model trucks. The grilles are made from 304 stainless steel that's powdercoated black.
Hitch Storage System
AMI unveiled the Hang-A-Hitch. This bracket secures a hitch-ball mount to the stake-bed pocket or a trailer rail.
Keyed Security For Toyota, Nissan
Bolt-brand locks are now available in applications for Toyota and Nissan. They can be actuated by the OE car keys, eliminating the need for individual keys for each accessory lock.
Air Bag Cradle
Daystar's new Air Bag Cradle is a polyurethane mount that permits more suspension travel and decreases the possibility of bag damage. It replaces the system's lower bag mount.
Super Duty Projectors
LED technology was ubiquitous at the SEMA Show. Spyder Auto has new 2011-12 Super Duty replacement headlights that have halo-style CCFL LEDs.
Tonneau/Topper Remote Entry
Pop & Lock has a kit that allows locking/unlocking hard tonneaus or camper shells (with 1-1/8-inch center hole) using the truck's OE key fob. Installation is clip-on.
The Torklift SuperHitch Magnum includes dual receivers: 2.5 and 2 inches. Max tow rating is 20,000 pounds, and installation is designed to use existing frame holes.
Putco's G3 LED DayLiners are CNC-manufactured aluminum trim pieces with embedded LEDs. An application is available for Super Duty headlights.
Bed Liner Mat
MacNeil adapts its WeatherTech floormats to truck beds. The TechLiner for F-150s offers bed protection with an easy-install flexible liner made from UV-resistant thermoplastic elastomer. Information: weathertechdirect.com.
Remote Power Tonneau
The PowertraxPro is an electric retractable cover. It rides in aluminum tracks on sealed ball bearings. A remote key fob actuates the tonneau, which parks securely with an electromagnetic brake. The cover also has an LED.
SEMA 2012 AWARD WINNERS
5th Wheel Tailgate With Backup Camera Mount
Husky won Best Exterior Accessory honors. The company's existing anodized aluminum 5th Wheel tailgate now includes a weather-resistant backup-camera mount and housing to improve safety and convenience. Carryover features address corrosion-resistance and maximize aerodynamic efficiency.
Easy Hitch Wiring
Curt Manufacturing won Best Van/Pickup/Sport-Utility Product with its Easy Mount Electrical Bracket. Made from steel, this bracket contains pin and plug wiring connectors. It clamps around the existing receiver hitch with no drilling required.
This Anzo replacement tailgate spoiler for 2007-current GM-built pickups has five-function LEDs: left and right blinkers, Reverse, brake and running lights. It was a runner-up in the Van/Pickup/Sport-Utility category.
Swivel Hitch Step
Elephant Stand combines a ball mount and swiveling step. The step stores under the truck during towing and normal driving. For easier bed access, the step swivels out aft of the ball. The hitch ball has a 6,000-pound capacity, and the step is rated at 600. The Elephant Stand was another runner-up in the Van/Pickup/Sport-Utility category.
Fuel Transfer System
The Fuel-Tool PT500 is an alternative to gas cans and siphoning. It installs in the truck's bed and pumps filtered gas from the vehicle's tank to fuel up equipment, power sports toys or fill storage containers. It was a best-product runner-up in the Off-Road/4-Wheel Drive category.
"3D" Maxdura Floor Liners are touted as having a six-layer design and six features: scratch-resistant surface, lightweight, noise and sound absorbing, grippy backing and stain-resistant fabric offering a high level of carpet protection. The mat was a runner-up in the Interior Products category.
Off-Road Jack Base
Hi-Lift has a new base for its famous utility jack. Serrated teeth along one side allow the user to scrape the ground level for firmer footing during jacking. The Off-Road Base was recognized as a runner-up in the Off-Road/4-Wheel Drive Product category.
Jackass Air Horns
HornBlasters' 228VX kit delivers higher pressure to the company's air horns for even louder honks. The system includes a 2-gallon air tank. The Jackass upgrade was recognized as an Exterior Accessory runner-up (Shocker 240 train-horn system shown).
Universal Truck Tie-Down
Smittybilt's M1 system includes seven-way anchors that mount to the bedsides at the corners. This creates multiple attachment points for securing items of various sizes in a variety of combinations. Each kit contains a pair of anchors and ratchet straps. Popular Mechanics magazine awarded the system a Product Innovation Award.