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Here are some interesting items that people often overlook when initially outfitting their new truck, but frequently include in a second round of upgrades.

Bed Step

If someone buys a tonneau cover to protect the contents of their bed, it means they have stuff in the bed that they will occasionally want to retrieve and that usually means getting up into the bed.  A common method for that is to step on the rear bumper and then climb over the tailgate. This is actually easier than getting in the bed with the tailgate down but like most things in life, “easier “ is a relative term.

I’m 5’10” tall so even getting into the bed of my F-350 is no big deal for me if I leave the tailgate up and step up onto the bumper.  It’s a lot harder with the tailgate down because I lose access to the low point of the bumper and the step up is now extremely high. But like I said, I can work around it by leaving the tailgate up.

Getting back out is slightly more difficult because it can be hard to see where to place your foot on the bumper as you step backward out of the bed over the closed tailgate. But it’s workable.

On the other hand there is no easy way in or out of the truck bed, even on a small truck, for someone shorter.  That’s where the bed step comes in.  It’s a spring-loaded or swivel step that attaches to the frame or rocker panel of the truck and extends out when needed, roughly halving the distance from the ground to the rear bumper.  Some steps are designed to mount along the side of the bed just behind the cab so the owner can step up and reach into the bed to retrieve items.

Whichever style you use, it makes the bed much more usable on a daily basis.

Bed Extender

The shortest of short beds is 5’ long from tailgate to front.  Many are 6’ long and some are 8’ long.  Regardless of which bed length you have, retrieving something from the front of the bed can be a chore and then there’s the problem of items rolling around in the bed when driving home from a shopping trip.

The most popular bed extenders make the short beds more usable by acting as a cargo fence that extends out over the tailgate, adding length to the bed.  They also can flip inward, creating a corral just inside the tailgate, providing a conveniently accessible storage area that keeps items in a confined space. Sometimes, though, the bed extender can get in the way.

Recognizing that, the best bed extenders are designed for quick and easy removal as well as easy re-installation.  They make the bed available for a wider range of uses, adding convenient versatility in the process.

Bed Mats

Bed mats create a non-skid surface and protect the painted floor of the truck bed.  For some owners, that’s all the protection that they need.  Made of heavy rubber, they are often cut to custom fit vehicle-specific bed shapes and lengths.  They don’t protect the inside walls of the bed, however.

Bed Liners

Liners basically fall into two categories – drop-in liners and spray-on liners.  Their function is simply to protect the bed of the truck from scratches and small dings as well as to provide a non-skid surface to minimize movement of items stored in the bed.  A spray-on liner such as Rhino-liner requires scuffing the paint off the bed floor and walls, applying a paint preparation agent, and then spraying on a permanent coating.  The materials and labor involved make this a relatively expesive option, generally in the $500.00 and up range.  The advantage is that it is a tough, durable coating that will not wear off over time.

Drop-in liners are made of hard plastic and they are designed to fit the contours of the bed and extend up the sides under the bed rails.  They do have the ability to move around slightly and over time can scuff the painted surfaces, but they are also significantly less expensive than spray-on, typically less than half the cost.

Drop-in liners also have the advantage of being able to move from vehicle to vehicle as long as the bed dimensions are the same or very, very close.  Ford SuperDuty beds, for example, have only slightly changed once from 1999 to present, so an owner who has upgraded to a new truck a couple of times over the past 17 years could have reused their drop-in bed liner on each new truck.

Leveling Kits

Most trucks traditionally have a nose-down stance.  The bed is slightly raised so that, when loaded, it has room to settle without appearing to be overloaded. Some owners prefer a level stance or they want to put larger wheel and tires on the truck. Others install snow plows and don’t want the front of the truck to drop even more under the weight.

Leveling kits raise the front of the truck up so that it’s at the same height as the bed.  They provide more room for larger wheels and tires (sometimes allowing up to 35″ diameters) and they restrict how much the front can drop under weight. They are an economical and effective solution for owners who want a more aggressive look without the cost, inconvenience and complexity of a full lift kit.

All of these accessories make it possible for owners to periodically update their vehicles rather than replace them and can make them easier to live with as daily drivers.  It’s almost always less expensive to refresh a paid-for vehicle than to replace it. For those owners enjoying a new purchase, it’s less expensive to personalize that new vehicle in the aftermarket than through the dealer. Stop by and let us show you how we can put your personality on wheels!

One of the more common questions we get asked by customers is this – what do most people buy for their new truck/SUV? There’s a pretty consistent set of upgrades that make up the most common aftermarket package for new vehicles, so let’s run through that list and why each item is on it.

  1. Step Bars or Running Boards – trucks and SUV’s often have higher ground clearance and require a healthy step up to get into the cab.  Even for average size men, this can be difficult but it’s next to impossible for anyone shorter than that, especially children whose arms aren’t long enough to reach the grab handles built into most new 4×4 vehicles today.  Step bars or running boards create a more normal step-in height and easier exit from the vehicle. They come in various forms, from 3″ round bars with a step pad for each entry point all the way up to power running boards that drop down automatically when the door is opened. The power boards typically provide an even lower step-in than step bars because they don’t have to remain extended when the doors are closed.
  2. Tonneau cover – this is a close tie or second-place item for most new trucks. They keep the bed clean and dry and allow storage of items out of view.  Since I covered this topic in some depth in my first post, I’ll just note that there are a wide variety of styles and materials available.  Customers who aren’t sure which is right for them can come by the store, where we have a broad range of demonstration covers available.  Readers of this post who are outside our area should check for a local store with a good selection of displays before deciding which one to buy.
  3. Rainguards – also known as vent visors, these are the plastic shields that allow the window to be slightly opened for fresh air even in poor weather. They keep rain or snow from getting inside by directing the run-off from the roof out away from the window opening. Rainguards can be stick-on (the traditional style) or in-channel (meaning they mount inside the window channel and offer a lower profile look).  They can also be clear, smoked but still see-through, or chrome finish.
  4. Floor liners – these are frequently purchased soon after a new vehicle by people who plan to hang onto their vehicle for as long as possible and want to keep the carpeting looking new.  Here in New England, that’s especially important through the winter months when snow or slush cover our shoes as we’re getting in.  During the spring, we tend to have muddy shoes as the ground softens up and rain tends to fall.  The best floor liners are those that conform to the shape of the foot well and contain whatever comes in on our shoes or even the spills that happen now and then.
  5. Mud guards – the beauty of mud guards is that they deflect the road dirt that comes off our tires at speed away from the side of the vehicle, helping to preserve the fresh paint and keeping the side of the vehicle cleaner than would otherwise be the case.  They also help prevent that road spray from blasting the running boards or step bars if they are present.
  6. Seat covers – todays vehicles are expensive and, unless you’ve leased yours and plan to turn it over every couple of years, most people are keeping them longer.  Seat covers preserve the newness of the factory upholstery, protecting it from pets, children, or just dirty work clothing.  In the process, they help preserve resale value.

So that’s basically the new vehicle outfitting list.  Not every owner gets everything on the list.  Some new vehicles, depending on trim level, come with some of these items as standard equipment.  Some owners choose to only utilize a few of them items on the list.  But they are the most common.  After these items, personalization of the vehicle becomes as diverse as the owner personalities.  They can also make an enormous difference in appearance at far less cost than factory trim upgrades. Here’s an example of the before and after from our own 2012 F-350.

2012F350_New02Store_truck-demo

 

 

 

 

 

We have examples of these items and many others on display in the store and we will take the time to offer advice on what will best enhance the look and protection for your specific vehicle. Sometimes that even means advising a customer to buy less than what they came in looking for because the lesser item will actually blend in better with the look of their particular vehicle’s trim level. So, if you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and see us. After all, it’s always a good time to protect that new-car investment!

One of the first questions we ask a customer when they come into the store shopping for a tonneau cover is “How do you use the bed of your truck?”  The purpose behind that question is simple – we want to understand whether a hard tonneau or soft tonneau makes sense for them.  We ask that question even of customers who come in specifically looking for a hard tonneau.

Hard tonneau cover prices typically start at around $400 more than an equivalent soft cover. So our first objective is to make sure the customer is looking at both the right style and price point for what they need the cover to do.

Customers who mostly just want weather protection for the bed of their truck and the occasional sports equipment or DIY tools they store there will be well served with a soft cover.  It will keep the bed dry (under most conditions and for most trucks, but no cover is completely weatherproof) and will prevent someone from seeing what’s there or casually reaching in and walking away with your property.  The latches are typically inside the tailgate so, if your tailgate locks, your cover cannot be opened from the outside of the bed and most casual thieves won’t risk cutting your cover with no sure prospect of finding something worth taking.

For those with tailgates that don’t have factory-installed locks, we can typically provide after-market locks and install them for you for much less than the price difference between hard and soft covers.

But some customers do store valuable property, such as contractor-grade tools and hunting or fishing gear, in the bed and that needs a higher level of security.  We used to take our kids to Maine every Christmas for an extended family celebration. With all of our gifts in the bed of the truck and knowing we’d be stopped at highway rest stops along the way, we considered a hard tonneau cover as a must-have.  The price difference was not as important as the security and peace of mind.

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Hard covers do tend to be lower profile, especially the retractable models, and sometimes that look is worth the price difference to customers

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We have half a dozen hard covers on display at the store and even more soft covers.  If you are unsure of what cover will best fit your needs, stop in and let us show you the differences.