How do dirt, dust and debris affect trucks?

Engine Image Gallery A ranch truck's engine can get really dirty -- really fast. See more pictures of engines.
© Law Cain

Trucks are ideal vehicles if you're living on a ranch or even just working on a ranch. You can use them to haul tools and machinery around a large property and, if you don't drive them on public roadways, you don't necessarily have to keep them in shape to pass inspection.

Of course, you don't want them to fall apart either. Ranch life can be tough on a vehicle, mainly because they're often used on dirt and gravel roads or even where there's road at all. It doesn't take long before dirt, dust and debris are covering the vehicle on the outside -- and not much longer before they get on the inside, too. It's easy to hose down the exterior of the truck and a vacuum cleaner plus a little elbow grease can take care of the cab -- but what about the engine?

If you're working on a ranch and use a truck, you know that the engine gets dirty fast. This can degrade performance. For instance, a dirty air filter changes the air-fuel mixture, and this can reduce mileage by as much as 10 percent. Worse, fine debris that finds its way into the engine's moving parts can shorten the lifespan of those parts. And there's plenty of dirt, dust and debris on ranches.

If you want to keep your ranch truck around for a long time, you need to clean the engine periodically, more often than you would if you only drive your truck on paved roads and highways. A ranch is a special environment and it can be rough on your truck.

Since you'll likely be cleaning your ranch truck's engine regularly, you'll probably want to do it yourself rather than incur the extra expense of having it done professionally. In this article we'll give you some tips on cleaning truck engines so they can better handle the ranch-life environment.