How old is your pickup truck? Statistics show it’s getting older.
According to research from IHS Markit, the average age of a light vehicle has grown to 11.9 years, which has increased by one month from the average set one year ago.
There are a lot of reasons for that, including better technology and quality improvements. If you consider your vehicle to be more reliable longer, why trade it in and bump up your expenditures once again?
Of course, where your money goes is a constant ebb and flow. You may not have monthly loan payments, but the older your vehicle is, the more likely you’ll be replacing parts and servicing your car from time to time.
Add in the fact that more people are looking for high quality previously owned vehicles. IHS also has predicted that the number of light vehicles on the road will jump to 16 years and older will jump 22 percent over the next few years, reaching 84 million by 2023. People are no longer demanding new each time they look for new vehicles. Instead, they look for used. It’s no longer unheard of for a vehicle to be sold multiple times.
Technology and quality assurance may be the starting point for making vehicles better today, but an equal handshake has to go to the maintenance market.
If you want your pickup truck to last ten, fifteen years or more, you have to be forward-thinking on your maintenance routine. Instead of waiting for problems to arise, you have to schedule regular visits and fix minor problems before they explode into larger ones.
Want to keep your pickup truck looking and operating like new for years to come? Here’s what to do.
Start with oil changes
An oil change is one of the most basic services your pickup truck needs. It used to be that vehicles needed oil changes right at 3,000 miles, but times have changed a bit. Thanks to synthetic oils being produced today, some of the latest models are pushing the envelope of how long you can travel between oil changes. It’s not unheard of for manufacturers to recommend intervals between 5,000 and 7,500 miles.
But keep in mind that this is a ballpark number. It also depends on your driving habits. Thanks to our recent staying-in-place orders, if you’re spending more time at home, your pickup truck may take longer to reach the specified numbers. The age of the oil is important too. Our advice is to stick with a schedule – base it on miles traveled or months in service, either/or. That ensures your vehicle has fresh oil running through the various parts and systems, and won’t let you down when you need it most.
Check the brakes
Some pickup trucks are treated as the family sedan. They drive to and from work on paved roads, with the occasional stop at the hardware store for little DIY projects around the house. Others are full-out work vehicles, hauling thousands of pounds all over town regularly. Each of those impacts your brake system in different ways.
Do your brakes feel spongy when you press down on the brake pedal? Are you having to push down farther to achieve the same results? It could be a sign of failing brakes. Part of increasing the longevity of your vehicle is in becoming attuned to how it drives. Pick up on the small feelings, noises, or smells that suddenly change. This alerts you to potential problems, and helps you bring your pickup truck in for maintenance sooner. It can be the difference between a small repair and an expensive overhaul.
Spend time with your tires and wheels
One of the easiest places to keep watch for potential problems is with your tires and wheels. When tires are low, they don’t roll and connect with the pavement as easily. That requires more power from the engine to ensure the proper connection. Next time you stop at a gas station, pull in and check your tire pressure. Inflate them according to your vehicle’s guidelines. You should find the levels printed on a label in the driver’s door jamb, or head online and search.
Do you notice uneven wear on your tire’s tread? Do you notice your car bouncing along, a less comfortable ride than normal, or have your vehicle nosedive when slowing for a stop sign or stoplight? Or maybe your vehicle pulls to the right or left as you’re driving along?
All are warning signs it’s time for a maintenance visit.
Shocks and struts can cause handling problems, which could be dangerous to you and others on the road.
An alignment problem can wear down the suspension system, something that can occur slowly over time.
All of these conditions happen gradually over time. That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on basic things to ensure your pickup truck is running well. Inspect your tires regularly and notice any changes in their tread or performance.
Give your pickup truck regular cleanings
CDOT uses a variety of different products on the highways and roads to keep them drivable all winter long. And while they’ve improved the chemicals they use to lessen the impact on a vehicle’s wear, it’s still a good idea to wash it off regularly.
A good cleaning can remove caked-on dust, dirt, chemicals, and other pollutants your pickup truck picks up from normal driving conditions. It also gives you a chance to see your car in a different light. A clean car makes it easier to spot damage. And if you’re handwashing it on occasion, you can see the little things you might miss otherwise.
Dirt can penetrate through even the tiniest hole or crack. And if it’s left to sit, the damage can penetrate, grow, until it does a lot of damage.
Give your pickup truck what it needs to live a long life
Your vehicle isn’t just an object that’s ready and waiting for whenever you need it. It has value that can last for years if you treat it well.
When you purchase your vehicle, whether used or new, spend some time getting to know your pickup truck on the inside and outside. Then watch, listen, and notice how it drives. Just being aware of how your vehicle moves will allow you to notice things quicker.
That can keep your pickup truck in good working condition for years to come.