You love your pickup truck; keeping up with its maintenance needs is the best way to show you care. That said, with the many tasks associated with maintenance, it can be easy to overlook some of them. To ensure this doesn’t happen, here’s a comprehensive pickup truck maintenance checklist.
1. Routine Oil Changes
Routine oil changes should be top on your pickup truck maintenance checklist if you want your car to serve you for years. While you may primarily use your car to run errands and drop your kids off at school and other co-curricular activities, you likely also use it for other things during the day. For example, after dropping off the kids, you may head out to pick up a load of lumber for your home improvement project or take it out on the dirt roads for an overnight camping adventure.
Due to these varying conditions, change the oil frequently to maintain proper operation of all working parts. If you’re frequently hauling heavy loads, note that certain parts may deteriorate more quickly than others compared to when driving under normal conditions. In such a case, oil changes should be even more frequent.
2. Battery Health
Harsh weather conditions can take a toll on your truck. Some areas experience multiple days above 100 degrees in the summer and just as many days below zero in the winter. The winter cold and summer heat can cause significant wear on any vehicle, but a truck that works hard year-round is particularly vulnerable.
The period between seasons offers an ideal time for checking the condition of your battery. While you can visually inspect it, it’s best to have a professional look at it using professional testing equipment. With a quick check, they can quickly assess its performance and recommend the best way forward so you’re not left stranded by the roadside when you’re miles from the nearest local mechanic.
3. Inspect Your Tires
Your pickup truck won’t fare well with worn-out tires, just as it won’t fare well in extreme driving conditions without a good oil change or a strong battery. Tire pressure can drop significantly as temperatures drop, negatively affecting your truck’s handling. Without proper traction, it’ll put you and others around you at great risk.
To ensure your truck gives you the best handling in all kinds of conditions, check the pressure levels in all your tires to ensure they’re adequately inflated and schedule a tire alignment. Don’t forget the spare. You’ll be thankful you came across this read when you need it.
To ensure proper tread, conduct the penny test, where you place a penny in each tire’s tread with Lincoln’s head facing you. The treads should cover the hair; otherwise, it’s time to get a replacement. If his hair isn’t covered, the worn tire has to be replaced. Always check each tire frequently since differing levels of wear can occur at different times.
4. Pay Attention to Visibility
Considering how much your track goes through each day, expect some aspects of visibility to be affected. While you might choose to delay washing your truck and instead wear it as a ‘badge of honor,’ it’ll affect how bright it lights up at night. Ensure your lights function as they should and aren’t covered with filth or not working.
Promptly remove any insects or grime from the lenses to ensure you always have maximum lighting control. You should also regularly confirm whether the defroster and heater are in optimal working condition as part of your pickup truck maintenance checklist. You don’t want your windows fogging when the weather can’t allow you to crack open a window, as it’ll put you and others at risk. Another great tip to help with visibility is to replace worn windshield wiper blades as soon as possible to ensure they’re serving the function they’re meant to.
5. Keep Your Pickup Truck Clean
While driving around in a dirt-covered truck may come with some sense of pride, it can negatively affect various components and systems of your car. For example, dust and dirt particles can scratch the finish over time. The finish acts as a protective layer that keeps dirt, water, and other debris from penetrating the paint and causing damage. You can enjoy this protection for longer by washing your truck regularly.
Regularly inspect the undercarriage as well. When driving on dusty roads, dirt may latch onto some of the most crucial components, like your brakes. Sand, mag chloride, and other winter road treatments also tend to adhere to parts. Keeping your truck clean isn’t just about enhancing its aesthetics; it ensures every component continues functioning properly despite what you put it through daily.
6. Check the Fluid Levels
Besides the engine oil, you should also check other fluids such as the engine coolant, brake fluid, windshield washer fluid, and power steering fluid. Engine coolant helps to maintain a consistent boiling and freezing point of the engine fluids. Maintaining an optimal temperature in the engine is key to its performance and preventing issues brought on by extreme temperatures.
Your truck’s brake fluid is a hydraulic fluid, much like the power steering fluid. As airborne moisture is absorbed over time, brake fluid loses its ability to function as intended. This is why you should regularly change your brake fluid for fresh fluid.
It may not seem like the most important task on your pickup truck maintenance checklist, but changing the windshield washer fluid should be among your top priorities. Smears and dust can quickly accumulate on your windshield, affecting your visibility. Changing the fluid will not only keep you safe but also protect your windshield so you get the most service out of its useful life.
The power steering fluid is the hydraulic fluid responsible for moving the different parts of your truck’s steering system. Changing it can help the power-steering rack and pump, which are quite expensive, last longer.
7. Air Filter
The air filter in your engine controls airflow into the engine and aids in preventing particulate and debris buildup. You can increase fuel economy, lower emissions, and prolong the life of your engine by simply ensuring the air filter allows free airflow. You can easily do this at home by checking your owner’s manual for instructions and how frequently it should be replaced.
8. Wax Your Vehicle
Waxing your car after washing it will keep it bright, help maintain the paint’s quality and lower the likelihood of corrosion. Many irritants, including dust, sand, salt, and environmental elements like ozone and UV light, can cause microscopic damage. However, by waxing your truck, you’ll add a protective seal that’ll extend your paint’s useful life.
8. Spark Plugs
The spark plugs ignite the gas and air combination that powers your car. If they’re faulty, your engine loses power and doesn’t operate as efficiently. Have a professional check your spark plugs and replace any faulty ones, as per the manufacturer’s guidelines or if there’s a decrease in the power of your engine, whichever happens first.
If you often drive your truck in areas where snow and ice accumulate over the winter, there’s a strong probability that your brakes have been working extremely hard. When you’re no longer dealing with those hazards, upgrade your brakes. Check the entire brake system, including brake hoses and lines, to ensure the fluid levels are sufficient and whether you need brake repair.
10. Shocks and Struts
The struts and shocks contribute significantly to the stability of your heavy-duty pickup truck, so you should include them in your pickup truck maintenance checklist. Due to the continuous stress of absorbing and dampening road shock, winter conditions may have severely damaged these components. Check the integrity of your truck’s suspension system by paying your neighborhood mechanic a visit.
11. Belts and Hoses
Your truck’s hoses and belts regulate the engine’s heating, cooling, and air conditioning systems. It’s time to swap out these components if they show any indications of deterioration. Inspect them for brittleness or cracking, and consider their age as well. Rubber over five years old typically has to be repaired or replaced as part of your pickup truck maintenance checklist.
12. Water Separator
Diesel engines typically feature an extra filter that separates water from the fuel. You must drain the water out regularly to maintain the optimal operation of the separator. Failing to do so will result in a warning light notifying you to do it soon.
13. Windshield Wipers
Your truck’s windshield wipers are one of its most important safety features. During winter, snow and ice accumulate on your windshield, rendering your wiper blades useless. To prepare for the spring showers and summer downpours, it is a good idea to clean the wipers, refill their fluid, and repair any broken components immediately.
As you do this, you can also inspect the windshield itself for signs of damage. If you do find issues, ask your mechanic for advice on what steps to take. They may recommend auto windshield replacement if the damage is extensive from an affordable auto glass service.
Loose steering parts can cause your pickup truck to veer off course and, under some circumstances, induce ‘death wobble.’ This is said to happen when parts are so worn out that the front wheels begin to sway side to side without any input. The rapid wheel toe-in and toe-out motion can cause you to lose control. When changing the oil, inspect the steering parts and grease the ball joints to keep everything lubricated.
Although considered the largest and sturdiest component of a car, the frame is susceptible to bending, cracking, and rusting if carelessly handled. Once a year, check the frame for excessive rust and any bent or cracked areas. If you use your truck to haul heavy loads, regularly inspect the frame at the area where you attach the trailer hitch receiver, either under the bed or near the bumper. If you use your vehicle in an area where the roads have a high salt content, routinely clean it or apply a ceramic coating before the winter.
16. Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF)
DEF significantly decreases diesel exhaust emissions. Top it off at every oil change, if not more frequently, depending on usage. The same fuel filler door is used to fill the DEF tank on some cars (including Ford, Nissan, and Ram). The fill port is under the hood in other cars, such as GMC and Chevrolet. You can find DEF at the pump at most truck stops.
17. Fluid Transmission
Gearbox fluid is a lubricant that aids in maintaining the proper operation of all the moving components inside your gearbox, much like the oil in your engine. Whether your car has an automatic or manual transmission, check the fluid levels and switch out when needed to prevent transmission damage. Adhere to your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations.
18. Transfer Case Fluid
The transfer case transfers power from the transmission to the axles in four-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicles. Check the transfer case fluid regularly and fill it per the manufacturer’s guidelines. You’ll need to get under the car to do this, so having a professional handle it is advised.
19. Front and Rear Differential
The differentials split the engine’s torque or power, enabling it to be sent to the tires. In cars with front- or rear-wheel drive, there’s only one differential; however, in 4-wheel and all-wheel drive trucks, there’s a front, rear and central differential. Like many components of your car, you need to lubricate these components regularly to ensure optimal functioning.
20. Find a Trustworthy Auto Mechanic
The last thing you should be concerned about is whether your automobile will be able to handle everything you throw at it the next day, no matter how busy your days can get. Working with reputable truck repair shops will allow you to schedule routine maintenance checks so you can address potential issues from their root. By doing this, you’ll always be ahead of issues that would otherwise leave you stranded or develop into bigger ones.
They’ll warn you of the little changes that have a big impact, ensuring you always have a working truck. They’ll also be valuable when you need auto body collision repairs. When looking for used truck parts or truck accessories, they can also offer professional advice to help you choose the best ones for your ride.
Driving on the freeway in your four-wheel or all-drive pickup truck feels great, doesn’t it? To ensure you enjoy this experience for as long as possible, you need to stay on top of its maintenance needs. Use this read as a guide for your pickup truck maintenance checklist.