When you see an old vehicle rumbling down the highway, chances are it’s a truck. Trucks seem to last and last … they appear to be some of the most reliable vehicles on the road.
But is it appearance, or is it true? Are trucks built better than cars? Will they be more reliable as they age?
What are trucks?
Have you looked around at the vehicles on the road lately? The lines are blurred between a car and a truck. What about a crossover? Or an SUV? With so many variables, it can be difficult to know what’s what.
The division between the two blurred thanks to a regulatory loophole that auto manufacturers use to get around fuel-economy standards.
To receive a light truck designation, the vehicle must have a gross vehicle weight of no more than 8,500 pounds, and be designed to transport persons, property, or be fitted with special features for off-street or off-roading.
The difference between a truck and a car comes down to design and weight. That’s why crossovers and SUVs have moved into this category.
Trucks can vary in size; you’ll see them listed as compact, mid-sized, full-sized, or heavy-duty. Trucks are designed to carry things, and are built more for cargo than people. Pickup trucks carry cargo, but are designed more for personal use. They have more interior space, and are targeted to people who want both.
Cars simply aren’t as popular as they used to be
Have you ever heard the phrase: I live out of my vehicle? For many people, it feels like it’s a second home. They spend hours in their vehicles driving to and from work each week. They shuttle kids to and from activities in what feels like a part-time job. Then there are groceries to get, dry cleaning to pick up, a run to the hardware store for the home improvement project scheduled for the weekend.
We lead busy lives. And a small sports car isn’t going to cut it for hauling.
Yet spending hours inside a vehicle isn’t appealing if it isn’t comfortable too. That’s why people demand larger vehicles, and trucks fit the bill. That demand has grown to more than three-quarters of all vehicles sold now falling into the truck category.
Do trucks last longer than cars?
If you ask 100 people this question, you will likely get 100 different answers. In many cases, trucks will last longer on average than cars. But it also depends on how you use it. Because many of them are designed for hauling, they come with more powerful engines and are built on a sturdier frame. That’s going to give these vehicles an advantage over time.
This is especially true if you only use the vehicle for daily city driving. If hauling to you is throwing the skis in the back for a weekend of fun, your truck will last and last …
If it’s well maintained.
Maintenance is everything, no matter which type of vehicle you drive.
Who to make your truck last longer
The first step to ensure your vehicle lasts is to do your homework and select a quality truck. A little research online will give you a list of contenders to test drive and consider.
But in the end, no matter if your vehicle’s manufacturer is Ford, Toyota, or Honda, developing a strong maintenance habit is going to ensure a long life for your vehicle. That includes:
Get regular oil changes
We can’t stress this enough. One of the most valuable maintenance items you can perform on a vehicle is to bring it in for regular oil changes. Every truck has its own guidelines; be sure to read the owner’s manual when you purchase it. A general rule of thumb is to get the oil changed every 3,500 to 5,000 miles. Many modern-day vehicles can stretch up to 10,000 miles. Be mindful of this guideline.
Quick-stop-shops built only for oil changes can be a poor choice. They are designed for in-and-out service, and to maximize profits through quantity versus quality. You might get lower quality motor oil, and they won’t focus on looking for other minor repairs that can make a big difference. A higher quality service center will provide better results every time.
Take care of your tires
While trucks may be designed for off-roading, the drive to work can sometimes take on an off-road experience. Potholes, snow drifts, and swerving for crazy drivers can leave you breathless by the time you get where you’re going.
While each turn and swerve can impact various systems throughout your truck, the tires often take the brunt of the force. As the only connection to the road itself, what’s on the road will directly impact their performance.
Tire care involves several things throughout their lifespan:
- Pressure – check tire pressure regularly to ensure they are adequately filled.
- Balancing – make sure the weight of the truck is evenly distributed across all four tires.
- Alignment – ensure the truck doesn’t pull to one side as you drive. This makes handling more difficult, creates greater wear on the tires, impacts your gas efficiency, and puts you at greater risk.
- Wear – walk around and check the tires from time to time to ensure even wear as you continue to drive. Rotate them to ensure even wear for as long as they’re on your vehicle.
While most drivers know about oil changes and tire maintenance, it’s easier to forget other maintenance items. How old is your vehicle? What do you use it for? Are the hoses in good shape? What’s that squeak coming from underneath the hood?
If you want your truck to provide performance without the risk of leaving you stranded, err on the side of good maintenance. That means bringing it in regularly and having it inspected. Make minor changes before they escalate into significant problems.
Whether you choose a truck or a car for your family vehicle, knowing it’s in top condition is the best way to create peace of mind, no matter how much you drive each day.