How good are you at taking care of your pickup?

AUTO

Maria Trimarchi

6 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

You do (sometimes) the required oil changes, tire rotations and other recommended vehicle maintenance. But, from how much you can safely haul in the bed to knowing where your blind spots are, are you up on the ins and outs of keeping a pickup on the road?

Which is better for your truck's gas mileage, a smooth, steady start or a quick start?

Smooth, steady acceleration is always going to give you more bang for your buck, or in this case, more miles per gallon.

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Which fluids should be on your regularly-checked and topped-off list?

It's important to keep the engine oil, master cylinder and washer solvent reservoirs checked and full, but basically, if it's a fluid in your truck, check it.

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If you're planning DIY maintenance and repairs on your pickup, which tool should you have?

If you plan to do any home maintenence on your truck, you'll need all three of these tools (and more) -- and be sure the socket set fits the size of the lug nuts on your specific pickup's wheels.

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Which type of driving is best for your truck's engine?

Cars, trucks ... all vehicles want to be driven, that's their thing. And not stop-and-go traffic, either. No one, not even your vehicle, likes it. However, if you also don't drive your truck more than 10 miles at a time, or you leave it sitting, undriven, for long periods of time, the engine can become prone to corrosion.

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How would you correctly complete the following? The higher a tire's load index number is, the ____ the load it can safely carry.

The higher a tire's load index number is, the heavier the load it can safely carry.

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What system could be failing if your truck's brake pedal is unresponsive or if the brake pedal locks up?

Symptoms of a failing anti-lock braking system (ABS) include both an unresponsive brake pedal, as well as brakes locking up. A faulty traction control system usually causes inconsistent braking.

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When you're pulling a trailer, is it safer to make wider turns or tighter turns?

Because the trailer's wheels don't track the same as your truck, if you don't compensate by making wider turns, your trailer could cross the line into oncoming traffic.

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A broken air conditioning system doesn't necessarily mean no cold air. Which is a sign your truck's A/C is on the fritz?

Signs of a problem with your truck's A/C can show up in the cab as wet carpet from a clogged air conditioner drain, a mildewy odor from mold in the evaporator box, or less air blowing from the vents because of an evaporator problem.

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You forgot to unlock the lockable front hubs after you got back on dry road. What could you have damaged on your truck?

Never drive on dry, hard surfaces with your truck's front lockable hubs locked. Accidents happen, but doing so could damage your truck's driveshaft, differential or transfer case.

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Tires lose about one psi of pressure per month. And if it's getting colder outside, you'll notice another one psi lost for every 10-degree temperature drop. Why is that dangerous?

Underinflated tires decrease your gas mileage, but they also can cause uneven wear and could cause a blowout.

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Even if you've planned out how you loaded the truck bed, bad ____ can make the load shift.

Poor suspension and bad shocks mean a rough ride if you're not hauling, but it can shift the load in the bed if the shocks are bad.

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It's recommended when you drive under "severe" conditions you change your pickup's oil more frequently. What's a "severe" condition?

Severe conditions may not seem extreme to you. In fact, they may just seem like normal daily driving, like stop-and-go traffic. It also includes driving off-road, towing a trailer or a hauling a load in the bed, too.

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What could happen if you overload your truck's winch?

An overloaded winch is going to fail, and that could mean a snapped line, or damage to your truck's battery, alternator and possibly more.

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What is one of the simplest and most important things you can do as part of maintaining your truck?

Regular oil changes are one of the most basic and easiest ways of making sure your engine stays in good condition.

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If your truck is in need of a jump, which vehicle do you start first, after the cables are hooked up?

Once the jumper cables are properly connected to your truck's battery and the working vehicle's battery, start the working car first.

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Is it true leaving bird droppings on your truck's paint will cause damage?

Some of the compounds in bird droppings make it dull the paint of your truck, if it's left there.

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Before doing any electrical work on your truck, what should you do first?

Stop! Before doing any work on your truck's electrical system, disconnect the battery first -- and for safety, start with the negative terminal.

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You can prevent accidents and body repair work by checking your blind spots. Which is not a common one?

Blind spots can be a bigger problem in bigger vehicles like pickups and SUVs. Some common blind zones include: behind the side mirrors and directly behind the truck.

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Which is not a possible reason your pickup is overheating?

A cracked cylinder head, a blown head gasket or a faulty thermostat can cause your vehicle to overheat, but not the engine oil you use.

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Before they outright fail to stop your truck, which is a sign your brakes need some attention?

Brakes that need maintenance will often pull to one side, stop more slowly or cause noises like high-pitch squealing or metal-on-metal grinding. Failing brakes may also smell bad or cause your truck's steering wheel to vibrate.

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How can you tell if a truck's had body work?

Looking for wavy or uneven body panels is one way to tell, but did you know you can use a magnet, instead (or as well)? The magnet won't stick to any plastic body work.

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Where in the truck bed is the safest place to load heavy items?

Loading the heaviest items near the cab instead of near the gate can help with road handling and is also safest for the truck's drive train and suspension. Don't forget to make sure it's weight-balanced from side to side, too, to avoid messing with the truck's center of gravity.

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A bed liner protects the bottom and sides of your truck's bed. But what are the cons?

Yes, a bed liner offers protection for your truck bed. But if it doesn't properly fit your pickup, it can rub, remove pain, hide rust and, worst case, void the vehicle warranty.

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Will putting a higher-octane fuel in your pickup give it greater towing or hauling capacity?

The belief that a higher-octane fuel will give your vehicle more power is just a myth. The best thing for your gas mileage -- and power -- is to just use the octane recommended in the owner's manual.

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When you're removing your truck's battery, always disconnect the ____ battery cable first, and reconnect it last.

The negative (-) cable going to the battery is the black cable, and the positive (+) is the red one. Always disconnect the negative first, or you could damage the battery, your truck or yourself.

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Is it okay to intentionally underinflate your truck's tires to increase its traction?

Sometimes it's Ok to intentionally underinflate your vehicle's tires to increase your traction, such as in inclement weather. But driving on underinflated tires long term will make them wear quickly and unevenly and decreases the fuel efficiency.

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What isn't used to determine the maximum working payload of a pickup truck?

The weight of the load you can safely carry in your truck bed is determined by a few things, including the chassis, as well as both the tires' load rating and load index number -- oh, and the weight of the passengers, too. But its ground clearance doesn't matter when it comes to heavy loads.

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Are OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) tires the best for your truck?

The OEM tires fitted to your truck at the factory aren't a bad choice, but they're not usually the best choice, either. While OEM tires are usually chosen for their pretty-good performance on both dry and wet roads, choosing non-OEM when it comes time to replace allows you to choose what's best for you.

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What is most engine wear caused by?

Most of the wear on your truck's engine isn't from an adverse condition. It's from engine turnover while starting the truck, which in cold weather can take years off of the engine, battery and starter.

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What part of your truck feels the brunt of hauling a heavy load?

If you use your pickup for hauling things around, you're putting strain on the truck's transmission.

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How often should you inspect your brakes for wear and tear?

They may not need any maintenance at these intervals, but experts recommend inspecting your brakes twice a year.

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If you change your pickup's tires to some that are larger and more aggressive, you may also need bigger what?

When you fit your truck with larger tires, you may also need to upgrade its shocks. Otherwise, it can cause bad handling and hot equipment.

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There are so many configurations of trailer hitches. If you have a ball mount on a trailer tongue, the ball on the hitch has to be the same size as what, for safety?

On a hitch that uses a ball mount on a trailer tongue, the ball on the hitch has to be the same size as the mount on the tongue for a secure lock.

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If you can see how much of Lincoln's head during the penny test for tread depth, it means you need to replace your tires?

The U.S. Department of Transportation recommends replacing your tires when the tread depth reaches 2/32”. If you can see all of Lincoln's head when you use the penny test, that tread's too low!

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Where in the truck bed is it safest for the large items you're hauling, like a couch?

The safest place for big pieces of furniture, like a couch or chairs, is along the sides of the truck bed.

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