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The Tool Box - Washing Your Truck for Less

By Bob Caffee
Posted Aug 11th 2009 3:37AM


I have been saying for years “a clean truck is a Happy Truck”. I believe this is true because keeping your truck clean helps you to identify problems before they become a breakdown on the road.  Clean trucks don’t attract the attention of the DOT as much as a dirty one does.  If they need to write a ticket they will choose a dirty truck before a clean one, as a clean trucks shows (in most cases) the driver cares about his equipment enough to take care of it.

Commercial truck washes cost $35.00 & up and this is ok if the truck is really dirty.  If the truck only has a week’s worth of road grime you can wash it yourself for a lot less.  We carry a 2 gallon pail ($3.00) a wash brush ($10.00) a broom handle (from the broom to sweep the box out which you should already have) and an Absorber (synthetic chamois $10.00). I just go to the fuel island to fill up my bucket or go to the shop and ask for a bucket of water (I have never been refused yet).

Bob_Washing_truck2.1_2.jpg I start on one side of the sleeper, dip the brush in the water and scrub a medium sized area then dry with the absorber working my way around the cab and sleeper. I don’t use soap as I have no way to rinse. If there is a really bad spot (lots of bugs) I use glass cleaner then wash as usual. I reach as high as I can but also carry a ladder for when I need to reach higher.  Once the cab and sleeper is finished I do the wheels, tanks and boxes.  When I am feeling real ambitious I get on the ladder and do the box also.  When the Absorber gets dirty I just take it into the shower and rinse until clean.

When I am done washing I get out the wax (I like McGuire’s) and do the hood first and as high as I can reach on the rest.  Then clean the windows with glass cleaner using paper towels (cloth towels do not work for me). 

Still feeling energetic?  Polish the wheels.  I would suggest you get disposable gloves for this project as you will get dirty.  Terry towels are cheap rags for this.  I cut a small towel into 4 squares and add polish (I use Wicked metal polish), about the size of a quarter and rub as directed on the polish container.  Allow the polish to dry, wipe off with clean towels and presto! Shiny wheels, bumper or whatever you want to rub on. 

This is great exercise and will get you out of the truck for awhile. This will also start some interesting conversations with other drivers that happen by.  It is very satisfying to have other drivers and customers comment on your good looking truck. 

Bob_wiping_truck_down2_2.jpg To add a little extra, you can outline the letters on your tires.  You can get paint pens at Michaels or Hobby Lobby. I have only been able to find red and white at Wal-Mart ($4.00 each).   One pen will last a very long time.  It takes about 30 minutes per tire the first time then about ten minutes per tire after you get the hang of it (a roll around stool is good here). 

So there you have it, you’ve just cleaned, waxed, and polished your truck, and had two good days outdoors, instead of watching TV or other general laziness.  Your truck looks better and you can have some pride in knowing you did it yourself, for less than the price of a commercial wash, and you probably did a better job.

Until next time, clean ‘em up!


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