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DIY Maintenance for Light to Heavy Duty Pickup Trucks

Posted by Cummins Expert on

Oil Change Maintenance Kits

Regular, simple maintenance tips to keep your pickup truck hauling.

Your truck works hard. You rely on your truck, and it relies on you to keep it operating at its best. These do-it-yourself maintenance tasks will save you time and money, and keep your truck running better for longer.

Get Your Supplies

Especially if you drive in dusty areas or tow heavy loads, it’s a good idea to keep some basics—like fuel filters, oil, and oil filters—on hand to ensure you have what you need when you need it. Check out our variety of Maintenance kits.

Log It

Since you’ll be tracking regular service on your own (as opposed to going into a dealership or mechanic), it’s a good idea to log everything you do. Track your mileage and anything you service (oil change, replacement filters, hoses, etc.), and keep the receipts, so you have a paper trail for any warranty issues or resale questions.

The Basics: Every 400 Kilometers

For hard-working trucks, check the following every 400 km (or roughly every fill-up): 

  • Engine oil level
  • Coolant level (especially before winter and summer extreme temperatures hit)
  • Power steering fluid level
  • Transmission fluid level
  • Brake and clutch fluid levels
  • Tires and tire pressure levels
  • Windshield washer fluid level
  • Lights and horn function

Oil Change: Every 4,800 - 8,000 Kilometers

Depending on the make and model of your truck, the amount of usage, and the type of oil you use, you’ll want to change your engine oil every three to six months. You’ll need:
  • Wrench for removing the drain plug
  • Oil filter wrench
  • Oil drain pan
  • Funnel
  • Latex gloves
  • Jack and jack stands or ramps (depending on ground clearance)
  • Oil
  • New oil filter
  • Replacement drain plug washer (model dependent)
The process will vary depending on your truck model, but here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:
  • The engine should be warm, not hot, so run a cold engine for a few minutes.
  • Check the ground clearance and consider using jacks or ramps so you have room to work.
  • Locate the oil filter before you pull the drain plug. Some models are under the engine and some are above, so it’s good to know if you’re going to have to move the oil pan to access the filter.
  • Remember to remove the oil filler cap when draining to speed up the flow.
  • Remove the drain plug slowly so that you can move out of the way (and not wind up with oil cascading down your arm).
  • Inspect your drain plug as the oil drains, check to see if it needs a new washer (or that the old one isn’t stuck to the engine’s oil pan.
  • Don’t overtighten the drain plug when you replace it.
  • Remember to rub new oil on the new filter’s O-ring before installing the new filter.
  • Only tighten the new filter three-quarters of a turn.
  • After adding the new oil and replacing the cap, run the engine for a minute to check for leaks.

Fuel Filter: Every 48,000 Kilometers or Two Years

Depending on whether your engine is standard gasoline or diesel and the conditions you drive in, the fuel filter should be changed anywhere from 16,000 km to 48,000 km. (Diesel engines have a two-stage filter system, which includes a fuel water separator. Check your owner’s manual for specifics.) Symptoms of a bad fuel filter include decreased engine power, an engine stalling while under strain (such as a steep incline) or a random engine misfire. Similarly, a clogged fuel filter will cause an engine to rough idle or sputter, as the engine is not getting enough fuel.

Because models vary, check the following before changing the fuel filter:

  • Fuel-injected vehicles will need to have the fuel pump disabled to relieve fuel line pressure, which may be secured to the filter with clamps, threaded fittings or quick-connect fittings—so you’ll need the right tool to remove them.
  • Check the old filter to verify the direction of fuel flow before removing it and compare the new one so you know which direction to install it.
  • Be sure to read the owner’s manual for information on priming the fuel system after changing out the filter(s) to verify there are no leaks and that everything is working.

With a little know-how and a Maintenance kit at the ready, you’ll be able to handle most routine maintenance tasks on your truck yourself and keep it working hard year after year.


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