How to Keep Your Truck Looking New

Red Ford Truck - Pine Grove Auto Sales

Image via Flickr by Stradablog

Truck owners are a proud lot. We love being seen as robust and sturdy. Naturally, we want our trucks to reinforce that image. That means protecting them from scratched paint, chipped windows, and other damage that can occur over time.

Bath Time

It goes without saying that your truck needs regular washing. And if you want the best for it, driving through an automated car wash isn’t enough. Trucks see more debris and spatters than the average car. They deserve a little personal attention in return. Invest in a sponge and soap formulated for vehicles. Once a week or after every “dirty drive,” give that truck the hand-and-hose treatment from roof to undercarriage.

If you frequently drive on unpaved roads, use a power washer to make doubly sure the underside is cleaned of debris.

Don’t forget the tires, windows, and bumpers. And remember to:

• Wash when the engine and the day are cool. Heat encourages spotting.

• Wipe lengthwise (not in a circle), and rinse out the sponge regularly.

• Rinse the whole truck before you wash, and hand-dry it afterwards.

Shine Time

In addition, your truck’s finish will appreciate a well-maintained coating of wax or sealant. Not only is it good for appearances, but it reduces damage from weather and friction. Specific waxing needs vary depending on model, age, and history. If your truck is fresh from the assembly line, its original sealant coat may be good for several months. Three or four waxings a year is usually adequate for all but the oldest paint jobs. Ask your dealer or body shop. Make sure to quickly treat any rust spots.

Road Safety

Of course you don’t want to invite scratches or worse by tearing down loose-gravel roads or whizzing within millimeters of roadside trees. But however carefully you drive, if you spend time off-road, your truck may need extra protection. Make sure your mud flaps are large, sturdy, and securely mounted. They’re a truck’s best defense against underside-scouring debris. Consider bug-deflecting screens to reduce smudging on your windshield and radiator. If you live in a rural area and want special protection from collisions with jaywalking animals, look into extra-heavy front bumpers.

Look in the Back

If your pickup has the classic open rear section, the floor and sides will need their own cleaning at wash time. They’re also vulnerable to scratching if filled with objects that slide around on bouncy roads. Pack anything you carry in the bed snugly, or tie it down if possible. And for the sake of road safety and the good of the environment, never put anything in the bed that might tip over or blow out. For extra insurance against rear-section scratches, put down a rubber mat or special liner. Speaking of interiors, when you’re finally home for the night, it’s a good idea to park your truck inside a garage, or at least to tuck it under a heavy-duty weather cover. Your truck may take a beating day to day, but it doesn’t have to show. Following these tips will insure your truck continues looking new and well-maintained for years to come.