Why Do Pickup Truck Beds Have Grooves?
Since getting my driver's license nearly 30 years ago, I've owned four pickup trucks. A 1990 Dodge Dakota, a 1998 Dodge Ram, a 2010 Ford F150, and the 2019 Ford F150 I currently drive (pictured above). Each of those trucks had grooves of some kind on the floor, sides, and tailgate of the bed, and for whatever reason, I didn't put much thought into why they were there until recently when I was getting gas and found myself staring at them while I waited for the tank to fill up. So, I went where everyone goes to find the answers to life's questions, Google, to see what I could find out.
I've always thought the point of the grooves on the floor of the bed was to create channels for water to run through when it rains, and that maybe the grooves in the sides and the tailgate helped with wind resistance and aerodynamics, but that's not the case at all. Actually, I was completely wrong on both thoughts.
I'll be honest, I felt a little stupid not knowing since I'm on my fourth truck in the past 25 years, but you don't know what you don't know, right? And you won't know unless you ask. As it turns out, I wasn't the only one who was curious. After searching through a few pickup truck owner messages boards I found most of the answers I was looking for.
While the grooves molded into the floor of the bed may corral water and send it towards the tailgate to drain when you drive, that's not their purpose. According to Truckile.com, their primary reason for existence is for added strength. The grooves make the bed "much stiffer for the same amount of metal thickness" and, "ensure that sagging is kept away from loads beneath — regardless of the weight." They also help reduce the amount of vibration from the wind while driving.
Side & Wheel Well Grooves
The grooves on either side of the bed are designed to place 2x4s in so you can keep smaller loads from sliding around while you drive, or to give you the ability to lay wider items flat (like a piece of plywood) you otherwise wouldn't be able to because of the space taken up by the wheel wells. Some people use the grooves and boards to create a bed organizer. Like this guy did in a Ford Truck owner forum I visited.
I'll admit, despite considering myself a "truck guy," I don't typically haul a lot of stuff. And in the rare instances where I have hauled a few sheets of plywood, or something too wide to lay flat, I slide it over the wheel wells and let the excess hang over the tailgate.
Like the sides, the grooves in the tailgate are for 2x4s, or 2x6s if you need to run them longways in the bed instead of across.
The One Answer I Haven't Found
The one set of grooves I have yet to find an answer for are these circular ones on the left and right sides of my tailgate. Are they cupholders for when the tailgate is down? If so, they're so shallow they wouldn't do anything to prevent a drink from getting knocked over. Maybe they're meant for pipes in case you need something sturdier than wood to hold a heavy load. I have no idea. If you happen to know, shoot me an e-mail. I'd love to know.
If you were clueless like me, I hope this has opened your eyes to the possibilities of what your truck bed can do. I'll definitely be adding a board across the end near the tailgate to keep my golf clubs from rolling around during every turn I make on the way to the course.