Truck owners and operators don’t usually get second chances to make good impressions with potential shippers and customers, with judges at show’n’shine competitions or with equipment buyers at resale.
If you want to have an edge over the competition, your trucks not only have to look clean and run like clockwork under the hood, they really have to stand out in a crowd.
With dotzens of parts and accessories from which to choose, and with a myriad of alternatives, deciding in which ones to invest can be difficult, particularly with limited resources. Truck owners and operators looking to make the best impression possible without spending a fortune should focus on those areas that will give them the best results.
To make the most of what they can afford, Paccar Parts recommends starting with these five components: fenders, exterior chrome and stainless steel parts and accessories, interior stainless steel parts and accessories, bumpers, and mirrors.
When choosing poly fenders, look for ones with high-density polyethylene construction.
For truck owners and operators looking to upgrade to stainless steel fenders, fenders fabricated with 16-or 18-gauge, 304-grade stainless steel offers durability. Fenders made with a 430-grade stainless steel, polished to a mirror shine, can offer a budget-conscious alternative.
Stainless steel’s basic composition is iron and chromium and a commonly used type is 430 grade. Adding nickel to that basic composition makes the stainless steel ductile, easier to form and weld and stronger. The most common form of stainless steel in which nickel has been added is 304 grade, otherwise known as 18/8.
Stainless steel fenders like those offered by Mirrex possess excellent corrosion-resistance. Because they’re fine-tooled, they have a smooth surface that makes them fit and align well with other mating parts. Multiple-stage hand polishing ensures a uniform luster and shine.
If weight is a consideration, Paccar Parts recommends choosing aluminum fenders made of .090-inch aluminum and ribbed for reinforcement.
Quarter fenders should have 18-gauge formed metal for greater strength and longer life, a 25-inch wide fender shield to provide enhanced spray suppression and a tube cradle support for added rigidity. Half and full fenders should include a reinforced flange for added strength and rubber installation strips to reduce the negative effects of vibration on the fenders. Fabricated post mount front arms offer half and full fenders improved durability.
Quality chrome-plated steel truck bumpers are manufactured using original equipment plating specifications and high-quality tooling. Inferior chrome-plated steel bumpers do not meet those OEM specifications and are subject to premature plating failure and inconsistent quality.
If you’re looking to install stainless steel bumpers on your trucks for the longest life, choose bumpers made of 10-gauge, 304-grade solid stainless steel. Reinforced stainless steel flanges in the back provide added strength.
Ten-gauge steel strikes the right balance between weight and strength. It makes for a sturdy bumper that can protect the truck and its tires from damage from road hazards. Plus, solid stainless steel bumpers won’t crack, pit, peel, rust or fade and can be polished to restore their original finish.
If weight is a consideration, look for stainless steel-clad aluminum bumpers that are approved by original equipment manufacturers. They offer a mirror bright finish 20 times thicker than chrome-plated bumpers. And they can be rebuffed to original condition.
Exterior chrome and stainless steel
Just like with stainless steel fenders, choosing other exterior stainless steel parts made of 304-grade or 430-grade stainless steel offers truck owners and operators years of long-lasting performance and attractive appearance. For example, they may choose to dress up their cabs and sleepers with kick panels, skirts and tool boxes and their truck wheels with lug nut covers, hub caps, or wheel covers.
If you’re looking for a more affordable alternative to stainless steel exterior accessories, chrome-plated steel parts can add class and a bright appearance at less cost. Look for chrome-plated accessories that are manufactured with quality chrome plating techniques. They should have two layers of nickel-plating to serve as an undercoat and a layer of chrome to protect against corrosion and to create a bright luster.
Whether you select chrome or stainless steel, look for accessories that include hardware featuring universal fit for convenient, easy installation.
For example, axle covers with screw-on lug nuts, instead of pop-on installation features, are less likely to fall off. That reduces replacement costs.
Look for a line of parts and accessories that can offer a wide selection and fit a variety of trucks regardless of truck manufacturer. By equipping their trucks with a single line of parts and accessories, truck owners and operators obtain a more uniform look.
Look for interior stainless accessories manufactured with quality 304-grade stainless steel to resist corrosion and quality chrome plating to provide a uniform, high quality finish.
Quality interior stainless steel parts should also be manufactured using fine tooling. That gives the parts smooth lines, symmetry and excellent fit, an important detail for image-conscious truck owners and discriminating show and shine judges.
As with exterior stainless steel and chrome parts, a line of parts and accessories with a wide selection of interior products offers owners and operators a more uniform look.
Good truck mirrors should not only be good-looking, but also include hardware that makes them easy-to-install and secures them for maximum use. Look for ozone-resistant vinyl that securely mounts the glass for extended life. A sturdy adjustable ball stud should allow drivers to move the mirror easily, but still hold it in place for proper alignment. Quality mirrors should be made of long-life 304-grade stainless steel and include universal Lbrackets for easy installation.
-Jeff Sass is general marketing manager for Paccar Parts. Mirrex is a Paccar brand of image-enhancing accessories, including mirrors, chrome bumpers and stainless steel light panels. For more information or to find an Mirrex dealer visit www.mirrextruckparts.com.
Truck News is Canada's leading trucking newspaper - news and information for trucking companies, owner/operators, truck drivers and logistics professionals working in the Canadian trucking industry. All posts by Truck News