Headache Rack: Types, Benefits and Toughness of it!

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A story appearing last year on the automoblog.com website described two ‘autobots’ vehicles being sold at the 2016 Barrett-Jackson Auction in Arizona. One was a tractor that was custom built to portray the Optimus Prime character of Transformers fame. One of the things that caught our attention was the description of the headache racks mounted on the back of this truck. The article described it as being an “armor-like headache rack.”

What is Headache Rack?

A headache rack, sometimes called a cab guard, is a mounted grid or plate on the back of the tractor of a semi or flatbed truck, between the cab and the bed. It’s designed to protect passengers in the cab from the cargo.

Some headache racks are straightforward protective shields, while at Mytee, our headache racks simultaneously serve as storage vaults for gear and other tools. These storage units are easy to access, and because they’re part of your tractor, you don’t have to transfer all your gear every time you switch trailers.

Why is it Called a Headache Rack?

Actually nobody is perfectly sure, but in truth, it’s more likely to prevent a headache than to cause one.

Headache Rack

Types of Headache Racks:

There are a few different types of headache racks.

Of the headache racks that are purely protective, some are made from aluminum alloys while others are made of steel. Steel is stronger than aluminum.

1. Aluminum Headache Racks

However, steel is a heavier material, and it also corrodes more easily. That’s why most headache racks are made out of aluminum.

2. Variety of Storage Capacities

Other headache racks are designed to help you store your hauling gear, chains, and other tools. Headache racks that store gear come in different sizes, depths, and heights, giving a variety of storage capacities.

3. Placed in a Drawer or Hung Vertically

In addition, some headache racks storage units have doors, while others have no doors, and gear is either placed in a drawer or hung vertically to store.

Benefits of a Headache Rack:

  • Additional, easy-to-access storage
  • Additional lighting options, including work lighting, beacons, and break lights
  • Resilient materials to protect stored gear from damage
  • Protection for passengers in the cab from loose cargo in the event of an accident

[Please Note: headache racks WILL NOT protect you in the case of a collision if you are carrying log poles. Log poles are heavy, highly dangerous cargo, and if they come loose they will break through the headache rack.]

Make sure ANY load you’re hauling is maximally secure and that a headache rack is not your only means of protection during an accident.

How to Install a Headache Rack:

All headache racks are different. Few arrive disassembled and need to be put together. Some rely on stake pockets in order to mount. Other require a forklift or multiple people to carry and mount, while others can be maneuvered by a single person. Due to the sheer variety of headache racks, there’s no one-size-fits-all guide.

To install a headache rack on your cab, follow the instructions in the installation guide that comes with the rack. The installation instructions for our sturdy-lite cab racks and guards can be found here.

Sometimes it’s helpful to watch an installation played out in real time. Trucker and YouTuber Randee Lewis has an excellent video demonstrating how to install a headache rack on the back of his tractor.

It’s important to note that this is just one example of headache rack installation, just as the PDF installation guide is only applicable for sturdy-lite cab racks. Your headache rack may have a different, necessary installation method outlined in the guide that comes with your product.

If you’re still having trouble, talk to us! We offer a professional Cab Rack Installation service. If you have any questions, or want to schedule an installation appointment, call us at 1-888-705-8277.

How Tough Headache Racks is?

Describing something as armor-like is a complement to its strengths and toughness. That led us to wonder about the toughness of the headache racks on the real-life trucks that traverse our nation’s highways. If you are a flatbed trucker, ask yourself just how tough your headache rack really is.

Up to the Task

There is a purpose for having a headache rack that goes above and beyond aesthetics.A headache rack is intended to protect both cab and driver in the event that cargo breaks free and shifts forward. The headache rack is supposed to prevent the cargo from crashing through the back of the tractor. With that in mind, a good headache rack has to be up to the task. It has to be strong enough to withstand the forces of physics in the event of an accident.

The purpose of a headache racks dictates that function is the priority when buying one. Yes, a clean and polished headache rack is a visual chrome feast for the eyes on a tricked-out truck that looks as good as it drives. But all the aesthetics will not mean much if that freshly polished rack cannot hold up to the forces of a shifting load during a forced hard stop. Truck drivers should buy their headache racks first and foremost as a safety device. After that they can talk about aesthetics and peripheral utility.

Shopping for a Rack

The headache rack is one area where it does not pay to skimp. So what do you look for while you’re shopping? Start by looking for something made with high-strength, premium alloys. An alloy is a material derived by combining multiple metals or a single metal with other elements.

Alloys are defined by their bonding characteristics. Thus, their superiority is found in their strength and durability. An aluminum alloy headache rack is going to be tougher and stronger than a pure aluminum alternative. Likewise for any other alloys a manufacturer might use.

Finally, make the effort to visually inspect any headache rack you choose before you buy it. If you are forced to purchase online because you cannot get to the supplier in person, make sure your purchase comes with a reasonable return policy just in case it arrives in less than perfect condition. Your visual inspection should include looking at all the welded seams and the entire face of the headache rack. There should be no cracks or breaks of any kind.

The Optimus Prime truck sold in 2016 is nothing but a Hollywood showpiece. As such, whether its headache rack is truly armor-like doesn’t really matter. It is just for looks. The same cannot be said for your own truck. If you are flatbed truck driver, you absolutely have to have an armor-like headache rack to protect yourself and your truck.

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