Importance of Proper Truck Care
After a brutal winter all you can think about is a cold beer and taking your truck out for a spin this summer. However, with all this crazy, cold weather you wonder how that has effected your rig? Summer heat, dust, stop-and-go traffic, and towing to the campground will take their toll on your vehicle. Add the effects of winter, and you could be poised for a breakdown. With warmer weather on the horizon you want your truck to be working at peak performance, not in the shop. Diesel Addict has got a list of the top summer truck care items that you should check to be ready for summer.
No one wants to go without air conditioning during summer heat. A marginally operating system will fail in hot weather. Have your system examined by a qualified technician. Cabin air filters are in newer model trucks that clean the air entering the heating and air conditioning system. It maybe time to replace your in cabin filter to have your whole system run better. We all know a clogged filter can be a big problem. Your owner’s manual should have the information on replacement interval time for these filters. Also make sure the fan motor is still working and not burnt out as well.
No surprise the number one cause of summer breakdowns is overheating. The cooling system should be completely flushed and refilled about every 24 months. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. (A 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water is usually recommended.) THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT: NEVER REMOVE A RADIATOR CAP UNTIL YOUR ENGINE HAS FULLY COOLED! If your radiator looks nice and clean, you are good to go. If not, you should consider replacing your diesel’s heating core. The tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses should be checked as well. Rubber does not like extreme cold and heat which your vehicle has or will experience soon.
Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual more often (every 3,000 miles) if you make frequent short jaunts, extended trips with lots of extra weight, or tow a trailer. Changing out your oil can make a bigger difference than you think. Proper truck care equals a reliable vehicle. Changing your oil is one of the important preventative steps that anyone can do are easily have done.
Engine Performance Parts
Replace other filters (air, fuel, PCV, etc.) as recommended more often in dusty conditions. Get engine drive-ability problems (hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc.) corrected at a good shop. Right before summer is a great time to flush and change all fluids as well.
Rods and Joints
Check all the ball joints, idler arm, tie rod ends, and so forth. Replace if they even look remotely questionable. Some of your weakest points are at your joints. Ever heard of death wobble? During the summer you don’t want to have to worry about these problems, get them fixed. They will only get worse if not attended too.
A dirty windshield can be distracting and likewise can pose a safety hazard by not being able to fully see. Replace worn blades and get plenty of windshield washer fluid. Also if your motor has went out it would be a good time to replace as well.
Inspect all lights and bulbs; replace burned out bulbs; periodically clean dirt and insects from all lenses. To prevent scratching, never clean your lights with a dry rag. Want to boost your visibility on the road? How about some Recon truck lights?
Have your tires rotated about every 5,000 miles. Check tire pressures once a month; check them while they’re cold before driving for any distance. Correct tire inflation creates proper contact with the surface of the road. This likewise increases traction and braking capability. Proper tire pressure also reduces irregular and rapid tread wear (see picture). Don’t forget to check your spare tire as well and be sure the jack is in good working order. Examine tires for tread life, uneven wearing, and cupping; check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. An alignment is warranted if there’s uneven tread wear or if your vehicle pulls to one side. Get a professional shop to align your tires if you notice any of these problems. Tires may wear faster with heavier loads so keep that in mind.
Brakes are one of the most important systems on your rig, especially if you are towing. Brakes should be inspected as recommended in your manual, or sooner if you notice unresponsive brakes, pulsations, grabbing, noises, or longer stopping distances. It may be time to replace your brake pads, rotors, or shoes. Any minor brake problem should be corrected promptly. You want to be able to stop effectively when you got a camper connected to your hitch. If you are a tower we definitely recommend an exhaust brake to help you stop when needed. New power steering pump could also be in order. We recommend this if you have not replaced yours recently. Some diesel trucks use the power steering pump as an assist for the brakes, likewise the two go hand and hand.
Batteries can fail any time of year. The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with a battery tester or at a professional shop. Routine care: Scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces; re-tighten all connections. If battery caps are removable, check the fluid level. Avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid. Always wear eye protection and gloves. After about 5 years old a battery may need new cable ends or be replaced completely. Also help your buddy out and carry a set of jumper cables to get his battery started if need be.
You never know when duty may arise. Carry some basic tools in your vehicles toolbox. Some items we suggest to get you started are a first aid kit, road flares or glow sticks, jack, jumper cables, knife, and a flashlight.
If you would like to see the products we recommend for this summer check out our Truck Products for a Successful Summer article. Go through the above checklist for summer truck care and you can lessen the odds of truck failure. Nip those problems before they arise.