You rely on your truck. It helps you get work done every day or, at least, every weekend. The goal is to keep it working for longer to maximize the cost of buying and owning it. You aren’t a mechanic, but what can you do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to improve its longevity? Well, it turns out that there’s a lot you can do yourself.
Some aspects of a truck’s operation are beyond the average person’s control or comprehension. That doesn’t mean that the whole job belongs to a mechanic. Instead, you can do these simple things, using simple inexpensive tools and your common sense.
Check Your Battery
Your battery’s health is directly tied to the alternator and starter. This trio is mutually reliant. If one goes, the others may follow suit. That makes it imperative to learn how to monitor your battery’s health.
You can get a battery voltage reader and, using some simple precautions, measure your battery voltage each week. With the truck engine cold, the battery voltage meter should read above 9.6 volts when you turn it on. Anything lower is a signal that your battery isn’t charging. This can be due to a bad battery, loose electrical connections, a bad starter or a bad alternator.
Recognize Poor Steering Response
Pickup trucks work hard, they hit bumps, and they experience drag. This can lead to problems with the suspension and the steering. You may feel a tug against your steering. There may be surprising jolts and frequent vibrations. All of these unusual sensations and noises can be attributed to a problem with the steering, suspension and even the transmission.
The faster you take your truck to be repaired, the less damage can be done. Often a simple realignment is all that is needed to fix the problem. You are also restoring the truck’s capability. Even the mighty Ford F150 can only achieve its maximum payload if the truck’s underpinnings are calibrated to factory standards.
Touch Your Tires
Simply look and touch your tires every time you think about it. It’s best to do it every week. You are looking for bulges, tears or nicks. You are feeling for smooth sections and noticing if there are growing pits or grooves.
Of course you have the dashboard indicators to tell you when the tires are low, but you should be checking the pressure regularly yourself. You shouldn’t wait until a tire is low to refill it. You are giving it time to pull at the suspension, challenge the gear shifting, and perhaps mess up the steering.
Learn Your Levels
Not only does a truck have multiple lubricants in use, but those fluids must be maintained at certain levels for effectiveness. The easiest one is the oil, which can be changed at regular intervals. The more difficult ones don’t require regular replacement, but when they do, it is time to pay attention. Either it’s time for maintenance and those fluids need to be replaced with fresh, clean lubricants. Or, the low levels are telling you that there is a problem.
The coolant, brake fluid, transmission fluid, and transfer case fluid, if applicable, are equally important. If one fails, you may have a whole system fail. The best idea is to learn your levels and check them every month to be sure that the fluids are lubricating as expected.
Don’t rely on your mechanic for everything. Doing these simple things will keep your truck on the road much longer and probably save you from major repair costs in ways you won’t even know.