So you are borrowing a pickup truck and you have never driven one before. The truck is ginormous compared to your daily driver and it is a bit intimidating. The truth is, there are some differences between full-size pickups and everyday cars and crossovers. We’ve put together this quick guide to help you feel a little less spooked by the whole thing.
Pickups Have 4-Wheel Drive (Usually)
If you are planning to need the four-wheel-drive system we strongly suggest you have the owner go over the details with you. Our image above is the Ford F-150 and F-250 4X4 selector switch. Here are a few things to know.
First off, use 2-wheel drive in normal dry weather driving. To select 4X4 High or Auto, stop the vehicle. Pull the knob out (if it is a Ford) and rotate it. The new drive configuration should show up as a small icon on the dash. Don’t be shocked if the steering feels a little funny. Older pickups have more complex 4X4 systems.
Don’t use 4X4 unless you know what you’re doing. It is not for a beginner to try without being shown. For one thing, the steering is dramatically affected and you should really be aware that this is a system that requires a complete tutorial. Four-wheel drive is dramatically different than full-time or part-time all-wheel drive in a crossover.
You Can Adjust Mirrors and Pedals
In addition to the normal stuff you can adjust like the seat, the floor pedals of trucks like the Ford line of pickups are adjustable also. You can move them up from the floor closer to you using the switch shown. Give it a try.
You can also push the mirrors out, or pull them in. Be aware when you drive a real pickup that the mirrors are far enough out that you can smack them on passing trees and signs. Ask me how I know!
The Tailgates Do Tricks
Trick tailgates are all the rage these days. GMC has one that has multiple configurations. Chevy trucks have a convenient corner step to help you get in. Ford has an optional stair that deploys out of the tailgate (see video above). Jumping in and out of pickups is for youngins and those who are parkour experts. Be careful. Use the tools available to you.
Some Trucks Need Special Fuel - Know Which It Takes!
Almost every full-size truck brand has a diesel engine option for 2020. If you notice the fuel filler hole has a diesel-only sign, or if it has a green nozzle cover, be sure you give it what it needs. And only give diesel to a diesel truck in case that’s not obvious.
Don’t Tow Without Help
Towing looks simple, but backing a trailer up is very tricky. You should get help from an experienced person. You need to understand how it all works and that cannot be explained in a short story. In addition to understanding the special equipment, steering a boat trailer in reverse down a slippery ramp is hard to learn. Do yourself a favor and have experienced help on hand.
You Are Going To Fall Back In Love With Your Car
If this is the first time you have driven a truck you will be surprised by how well they handle. At least given their size. That said, they are not sporty. Once you are done with the truck you are in for a treat. Your normal car or crossover is going to feel like a sports car when you get into it next.
We’re sure we have left out some important rookie advice. Feel free to offer it in the comments below.
John Goreham is a life-long car nut and recovering engineer. John's focus areas are technology, safety, and green vehicles. In the 1990s, he was part of a team that built a solar-electric vehicle from scratch. His was the role of battery thermal control designer. For 20 years he applied his engineering and sales talents in the high tech world and published numerous articles in technical journals such as Chemical Processing Magazine. In 2008 he retired from that career to chase his dream of being an auto writer. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on the Torque News Facebook Page, and view his credentials at Linkedin
Images by John Goreham. GMC tailgate image courtesy of GMC media support.