6 Essential Truck Maintenance Tips for a Healthy Vehicle

wrenchesDespite the rough and tough life that many trucks go through, it is common to find them on the road with over 200,000 miles. This is a staggering number of miles, and it happens by no accident.

If you want your truck to last that long, you need to start early. By performing consistent truck maintenance now, you can ensure that your truck reaches that magical 200,000-mile mark.

Add these six tasks to your maintenance checklist.

1. Never Skip the Oil Change

If you do nothing else, you must change your oil regularly. Skip this step, and you are on a dead-end road to having your entire engine stop working. It will then cost you thousands to replace it.

This is totally unnecessary when all it takes is a few quarts of oil, a filter, and less than an hour of your time.

Most manufacturers recommend that you change your oil somewhere around the 7,500 miles mark. But if you don’t drive often then you’ll need to change the oil every six months, whichever comes first.

If you have a newer vehicle, you can get away with not changing the filter every time. But if your truck is older, you will need to. Check your owner’s manual for the exact type of oil and filter to use in your truck.

To change your oil, park your truck and let it cool, no one wants to deal with blazing hot oil. Then put your truck up on lifts or jack it up. Release the nut that is located in your drain pan.

Let all of the old oil drain out into a container. Once done, replace the nut. If you forget this step, you will waste oil and have a massive mess on your hands.

If you plan to replace the filter, now is the time. Simply unscrew the old one and screw on the new one.

Now pour in your new oil. Be sure to check your owner’s manual, so you put in the correct amount. Take your truck off the lifts and let it run for a minute or two. Then check your oil level to ensure you have the right amount.

2. Rotate Your Tires

Even though you bought all four tires at the same time, they wear differently. To improve your ride and extend their life, you will need to have them rotated regularly.

Your truck’s drivetrain will dictate how your tires wear. Typically, the front tires will see more wear.

How you rotate your tire will depend on if you have directional or non-directional tires. Directional tires have a tread pattern that makes them specially designed for one side of the car. Non-directional tires can be mounted on any wheel.

For directional tires, you will move the back tires forward and the front tires back. Keep the tires on the same side of the car that they were initially on.

For non-directional tires, you will use a cross pattern. Move the rear tires forward, keeping them on their original sides.

Then the front tires will move back and switch sides. Front left tire moves to back right and front right moves to back left.

Have Them Balanced

While they are getting rotated, it is good to have them balance too. This will evenly distribute your tire’s weight across the axle. Doing this will reduce vibration and excess wear and tear on your suspension.

3. Get Aligned

Have you ever let go of the wheel while driving on a straight road, only to see that your truck veers in a direction all on its own? That means your truck is out of alignment.

Aggressive driving or driving too fast over rough roads can cause your truck to get out of alignment. This will increase the wear and tear on your tires, causing you to replace them sooner. You will also get worse gas mileage and decreased handling.

4. Check Your Lights

This is an easy thing to become complacent about, but an important safety feature of your truck. Once a month, turn your lights on and check that they are all working.

Having a dead headlight can put you at risk of being pulled over and receiving a ticket.

If you do have a dead bulb, buy a replacement. Then pull out the old bulb and plug in the new one. You can look up what bulb you need in your repair manual.

5. Clean Your Air Filter

For your truck’s engine to function correctly and efficiently, it needs fresh air. So you need to clean your air filter periodically. If you have a paper air filter, then you’ll need to throw your old one away and buy a new one.

Or you could upgrade your filter and buy one that you wash, dry, and put back. These filters tend to perform better and are well worth the investment.

You can typically drive about 20,000 miles between your air filter changes. But this will become more often if you drive somewhere that is dusty or on dirt roads.

6. Check Your Fluids

The oil isn’t the only fluid in your truck. After you check your oil, you should check your coolant. Just as the name implies, this fluid helps keep your truck engine cool so that it doesn’t overheat.

Check your truck manual to find out what the proper level is and refill as needed.

Next, you should check your windshield washer fluid. You don’t want to get caught with a windshield you can’t see out of because you failed to keep the washer fluid up.

Plan to use more when the roads are dusty, salty, or sandy.

Perform Your Truck Maintenance

By performing these basic truck maintenance tasks, you can ensure that your truck will run smoothly for many years to come.

To keep track of the different tasks, it is best to do your checks every month. It will only take a few minutes and will ensure you catch issues early before they become significant problems.

Check out our blog for more useful advice, then be sure to download your truck’s manual before you begin any maintenance.