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How Ranch Trucks Work

Ranch Truck Maintenance
Peter Fonda leans against his 1952 Dodge truck on his ranch in the Paradise Valley near Livingston, Mont., on Sept. 1, 2004.
AP Photo/Garrett Cheen
Peter Fonda leans against his 1952 Dodge truck on his ranch in the Paradise Valley near Livingston, Mont., on Sept. 1, 2004.

Since life on a ranch is pretty rough and tumble, ranch trucks need to be reliable and ready to go. Part of working on a ranch is maintaining the ranch's truck (or trucks). Ranch life means being capable of tackling whatever's out there, so a well-maintained truck is essential.

When it comes to maintaining a ranch truck, the basics of car maintenance still apply. The engine oil and other critical fluids need to be changed according to the manufacturer's specifications. Tires need to be replaced when the tread wears down, and light bulbs and fuses need to be kept in working order, too.

Living on a ranch dictates some specialized maintenance for ranch trucks, however. For instance, while it's important to keep any car's radiator working well, it's especially important for ranch trucks because they're often asked to do work that strains the engine and causes it to run hot. Towing heavy loads, driving slowly across rugged terrain -- these punish a truck's engine. If it gets too hot, then the rancher is stuck with an overheated engine and an out-of-commission truck.

On the bright side, since many ranches use diesel-powered trucks for their capabilities, they get the added benefit of a diesel engine's durability. Many ranch trucks are driven hundreds of miles each day, without ever leaving the ranch. And since the trucks are tools, ranchers typically expect to keep their trucks for a long time. A ranch truck is all about work, so it won't likely be replaced just because there's a newer, better-looking truck on the market. With the right maintenance, diesel engines can outlast their gasoline counterparts, saving a ranch from having to buy a new truck (or trucks) every few years.

Some people buy trucks to drive to the hardware store on the weekend. Others buy them because they project a certain image. But ranch trucks are true workhorses. They aren't bought for the occasional towing job or because they look good. They earn their keep by hauling livestock and feed, transporting ranch hands to job sites and rolling wherever ranch work takes them.

For more information about ranch trucks, ranch life and other related topics, follow the links on the next page.