Dustin Gaffke

Don’t Forget Your Truck’s Exterior This Winter

The frigid snow and ice have already settled in, and many people are rushing to prepare their cars for a long hard winter. Most savvy drivers have a checklist already in their heads about how to prepare their truck parts for this time of year; fluids, snow tires, and wiper blades are usually near the top of the winterizing wish list. But there’s so much more that should be addressed before hitting the roads, whether those roads are in the mountains or in the cities.

While it’s smart and safe to replace fluids and check the heating systems, our car exteriors are typically forgotten about; many of us taking for granted the sturdy frame and clean undercarriage that surrounds us during our icy commutes. However, the exterior can take quite a beating and should be protected just as wisely as everything else! Here are three things to keep in mind for a holistic truck winterization program this year, and if you’re in doubt about your rig’s specific needs, don’t hesitate to ask your local 4×4 mechanic.

Protecting Your Paint Job

The magical ice-busting concoction that blankets the average winter street may give your tires necessary traction, but it spells doom for your car’s paint. If allowed to contact naked paint, or worse, build up along your rims and undercarriage, it can bring a whole host of corrosive problems. Your truck parts are highly susceptible to this salty mix, and your paint job often takes the brunt of the damage.

Stave off the road salt erosion by keeping your car cleaned and investing in high quality wax and paint sealant. While it’s impossible to do a full outdoor lather and wash this time of year, there are cleaning products on the market that you can use inside your garage with only a gallon or two of water and a soft mitt. But keeping your truck parts sparkling clean is only the first step: a wax and sealant treatment is essential if you want your paint to look flawless come spring. Bring your car into a trusted 4×4 mechanic and ask about the right sealant for your needs.

Prepping Your Tires

Many off-roaders spend good money on their tires and for good reason; the traction and stability they offer is important in conquering the most challenging of trails. And while these tires do well in snow, it’s all too easy to neglect their unique needs after the temperatures drop. Rubber is especially susceptible to heat and cold, the latter causing the material to shrink and crack, potentially reducing a tire’s safety and reliability in a time you need it the most. Tire gels and coatings not only keep your tires soft and flexible, but also can prevent adhesion of road additives and brake dust. Hydrating and sealing your tires is a worthwhile investment, especially if you enjoy any snowy off-road adventures that strain them more than average city driving might.

Once your rubber is properly sealed, it’s important not to forget that crucial stuff that goes inside: air. Cold temperatures cause the air inside your tires to shrink, which affects your pressure and thus, your safety and drivability. Air is arguably one of the easiest truck parts to come by and is dramatically important to maintaining a smooth and efficient drive: a well-inflated tire saves in fuel costs and makes handling a breeze. Be sure to test your pressure often and take your truck to a 4×4 mechanic if you suspect a leak.

Storing Your Ride

Many people do not have the luxury of garage space for their off-road rig, especially those with large modified trucks and Jeeps. If you happen to be one of the lucky few, consider investing in a heavy duty floor mat: these fit your average garage spot and hold the ice and snow that melts off your vehicle, as well as protecting the concrete from staining and making your car park easier to clean. However, if your truck parts are left out in the cold, it might be worth your while to purchase a quality outdoor car cover. Custom sizes and thicknesses are available, and covers can go a long way to prevent wear and tear along with providing a bit of insulation on those freezing nights.

Other things to consider storing along with your truck are: ice scraper, de-icing spray, battery charger, snow broom, and extra fluids that are rated for extreme cold temperatures.

This year, make your winterizing a comprehensive task and don’t forget to pamper the exterior of your vehicle. Colorado winters can be harsh, but there’s no need for your truck to suffer the consequences.

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