Trucks have a reputation for being the most durable vehicles on the market. But if you don't give them the care they need, they won't last long. To keep your rig running strong, make sure to regularly follow these short and long-term maintenance tips.
Love thy transmission
If you're driving a 4x4 like a RAM Power Wagon offroad, you're taxing your truck's transmission. Get an oil cooler if your rig doesn't already have an auxiliary one. Pay extra attention to automatic transmissions, as they tend to overheat more than manuals when you driving off-road. Also, make sure to change the transmission fluid every 30,000 miles.
Lube thy differentials
The differentials are gears on the front and rear axles that allow the wheels to turn at different speeds. Your 4x4 has a complex set of differentials that need regular lubrication to work properly. When you change the differential oil, check for metal flakes or milky-white discoloration. Those signs are indicators of contamination that could lead to a costly repair down the road.
Give the engine clean air
Whether you're driving in an urban jungle or an offroad trail, environmental impurities are gradually building up in your engine's filter. To keep your truck running for a long time, swap out the engine filter every 20,000 miles. Then go find a mountain road or a wide open prairie highway and let the engine rip. Engines need a lot of clean air to run at their best.
Got a diesel? Check the glow plugs
Diesel engines use compressed heat to ignite the engine, but they don't burn hot enough on their own. Glow plugs give the engine the extra push to get the fuel burning. You should regularly inspect your truck's glow plugs, especially during cold weather months, and replace them when necessary.
Keep it clean
Sure, driving a truck splattered with mud and dirt is immensely satisfying. It's like a badge of honor -- we get it. But without a regular washing, you're letting your truck's exterior deteriorate from debris like rocks, dirt, salt, sand and whatever else is in your environment. Keep your truck clean to preserve its resale value and keep it running for a long time.
Balance, rotate and align your tires
These may seem like common sense tips, but not enough truck owners do their due diligence to keep their tires running to their full potential. Balance your tires to ensure your truck's suspension has a long life. Every time you change your oil, you should rotate your tires. Regular wheel alignment is just as important. 4x4 owners need to pay extra attention, because rugged terrain puts a hurting on the wheelbase. Bad wheel alignment results in poor handling, lower gas mileage, and reduced tire quality. Keep all of your tires inflated to the proper pressure and spread the weight of your load out evenly.
Give it a home
Your truck may be a rugged machine, but it is still susceptible to the elements -- be it sun, wind, rain, or the occasional golf-ball sized hail. Store your truck under a carport or in a garage. You can buy carport kits online for as cheap as a hundred bucks.
Protect the underbelly
Your truck's undercarriage is constantly taking incremental damage from the elements, especially if you drive offroad. Everyday damage from rock debris, snow, rain, and ice will wreak havoc on your truck's undercarriage over the course of time. You can protect your truck's underbelly from rust, salt and scratch damage by applying a coating of protective oil.
Get a bed liner
A bed liner will protect the bed of your pickup truck from wear and tear that can lead to rust. Choosing the right liner boils down to your personal needs. Spray-on liners offer elemental protection and will keep you from slipping, but they make sliding objects in and out of the bed tricky. We recommend a bed mat, as it's not permanent and will still provide damage protection.
Choose your oil wisely
In Sturgill Simpson's "Keep It Between The Lines," he croons, "Motor oil is motor oil, just keep the engine clean." We agree with the engine part, but you should absolutely pay attention to the type of oil you use. Each type serves a different need and function.
More importantly, you need to change your oil regularly. Most Ram owner's manuals suggest changing the oil every 8,000 miles. We may sound like a broken record advocating regular oil changes, but it's crucial to the health and longevity of your truck's engine.
Check the fluids
Pop the hood every so often to check the levels of the three main fluids: engine oil, coolant, and windshield washer. Check the quality of the engine oil for obvious impurities, and change if necessary. For coolant, crack open the owners manual to find the specific levels for your truck. Lastly, make sure you have enough wiper fluid, and keep an extra bottle in your truck just in case.
Crack open the manual once in a while
Seriously, why aren't you doing this more often? Everything you need to know about your truck is in that tome tucked in the glove box.