15 Tips for Trucks

Use these tips from truck guru Slaton L. White to find out how to get more out of an invaluable fishing "partner."

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Take Full Advantage
To take full advantage of a maximum-traction offroad tire, deliberately alternate right and left turns of the steering wheel. This will gently pinch the tire against the edges of deep ruts, allowing the shoulder lugs to claw at the sides of the ruts and pull the vehicle forward. In effect, the tactic provides the feeling of an additional lower gear.

Auxiliary Lights
When purchasing auxiliary lights (driving lamps or fog lamps) for your 4x4, make sure all the components are included in one package, fully assembled for installation. Your choice should include the wiring harness, switch, and relay in addition to the lights.

Check Your Windshield Wipers
Periodically check the condition of the windshield wipers. Don't think this is important? Try driving five or six hours in bad weather with worn-out wipers. It's bad enough during the day. At night, when you're tired, forget it; you're an accident waiting to happen.

A Submerged Axle
If you submerge the axle of your 4x4 at a boat ramp, creek crossing, or mudhole, do the following: Remove the differential cover plate as soon as you get a chance, and take a close look at the fluid. If the fluid has a milky appearance, it's been contaminated by water and must be changed as quickly as possible. Generally, running the truck 20 to 30 miles like this isn't so bad; but if you put on more than a couple of hundred miles, you'll damage the gearset as well as the bearings. (If the foregoing is too much bother, stop at a qualified service station and have the mechanic do it for you.)

** Transmission Fluid Cooler**
Modern trucks are constantly battling heat, and running the air conditioner full tilt while towing in hot weather or grinding up steep offroad trails can tax the cooling system to the max. The transmission is also a factor; in fact, many boilovers are actually the result of hot transmission fluid overwhelming the vehicle's cooling system. The fix? Install an auxiliary transmission fluid cooler. For what it does, it just may be the most inexpensive performance product on the market.

Hitch Receiver
When securing the drawbar/ball-mount into the hitch receiver, slip the pin in from the driver's side of the receiver. Roads are crowned, which means the surface is slightly higher in the middle (this helps the road drain faster). Inserting the pin from the driver's side takes advantage of this and will help keep the pin in place if the safety clip falls off.

2 to 4 inches of Lift is Plenty
If you decide to lift your 4x4, buy a suspension kit specifically designed for your model. A one-size-fits-all kit is a recipe for disaster. And think modestly. Bigfoot you're not; 2 to 4 inches of lift is plenty for an outdoorsman.

Get In Control
Wheel spin on dirt trails or in mudholes (the result of a heavy foot on the throttle) usually means that you're not in control of the situation. Slow down. You want enough momentum to carry the vehicle through mud or sand but not so much that you can't completely control the vehicle. Try feathering the throttle instead.

Removing Dents
To remove a dent in the body of your truck, drill a 1Z?16-inch hole in the center of the dent and insert a metal screw into the hole. Grip the screw with a pair of pliers and pull out the dent.

A Limited Slip Differential
When ordering a new 4x4, make sure it will come with a limited-slip differential. This equipment helps direct power to the wheel that has traction. Without it, a 4x4 won't make it out of a mudhole.

Have A Buddy Drive
To spot problems caused by worn-out suspension parts, have a buddy drive while you ride shotgun. (Suspensions degrade slowly over time, and regular drivers often don't notice the problems.) Ruun the vehicle at highway speeds and then slowly over a bumpy road. Be alert for shakes in the steering wheel. This could be due to an out-of-balance tire (not serious) or a slowly disintegrating ball joint (big trouble). In an empty parking lot, turn the vehicle in slow circles, with the wheel cranked hard right, then hard left. Both of you should look and listen for anything out of the ordinary.

Lock It
What's the easiest way to keep a creep from stealing your rig? Lock it. You'd be surprised how many sportsmen fail to do this. And leaving the keys in the ignition is simply asking someone to steal the truck. Also keep in mind that the decals sportsmen proudly slap on their trucks (NRA, B.A.S.S., NWTF, TU, etc.) can draw unwanted attention to the truck by leading some lowlife to think valuable stuff (guns, fly rods, etc.) is stored inside. Your best bet is to remain anonymous.

The Dipstick Remains Useful
The lowly dipstick remains a great diagnostic tool?if you know what it's telling you. After checking the oil level, look closely at the color. Though oil discolors over time, it should not look like tar. If it does, and especially if it smells "burned," change the oil immediately.

Before Starting a Vehicle Recovery
Before starting a vehicle recovery with an electric winch, lay a blanket or tarp over the wire rope about halfway between the winch and the anchor. This will help direct the rope to the ground should it break under load.

Clean It Off
It is said "rust never sleeps," and pickups and sport utilities that routinely negotiate wet terrain are prime candidates for corrosion damage. Clean off mud and other crud after every trip. You can also place an oscillating lawn sprinkler underneath the truck and drive back and forth over the sprinkler. The pressure isn't enough to loosen encrusted mud, but it will wash away road film and salt.