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Spruce Up Your Pickup

Whether you’ve just purchased a new truck and want to make it stand out from the crowd or simply want to spruce up your trusty old pickup truck, there has never been a better time to accessorize your ride.

Although truck accessories have been around for decades, the market boomed in the 1990s and the list of available products has since grown to become a multi-billion dollar a year industry.

Popular items include performance and racing components, cosmetic and functional accessories, wheels and tires, mobile electronics, safety products, restoration parts, handling equipment, drive train parts, grille guards, bumper replacements, nerf bars and trailer hitches.

According to SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association), the primary trade association that represents truck accessories, the average light duty truck owner will spend more than $2,000 on aftermarket goodies to either improve the performance or looks of their truck.

Owners typically start adding accessories within the first few months of ownership. Although the market for import trucks continues to grow, accessories for Ford, Dodge or General Motors vehicles remain the most popular. The variety of products is practically endless.

The heavy-duty trailer hitch is among the most popular accessory, more than half of the pickups on North American roads contain them. Unlike simply hooking a ball hitch to your trucks factory bumper, heavy duty hitches allow you to take full advantage of your trucks towing capacity. Numerous manufacturers offer a wide variety of different setups.

In the past, the installation of a heavy duty hitch required the help of a professional installer but these days hitches are designed for your specific vehicle and can be bolted on with no drilling or welding required. The process of wiring the hitch has also been simplified and can easily be done by anyone with moderate mechanical skills.

Other popular items that can easily be installed by the owner include bug deflectors, grille inserts, custom floor mats, tailgate protectors, side window drip guards and drop-in bedliners.

Spray-in bedliners are also very popular. Essentially a polyurethane spray coating is utilized to line the box of your truck. These bed-liners provide a contour fitted, anti-skid, chemically resistant surface that provides longer life, increases the value of your truck and requires little or no maintenance. This application is beneficial for protecting the bed of a new truck and also hides scratches and light gouges in your older truck and protects the surface from corrosion. The majority of spray-in bedliners are done by professionals and the market is very competitive so you may want to spend a bit of time shopping around. There are also do-it-yourself bedliner products on the market that can be either brushed on or sprayed.

Tonneau covers or bed covers are also popular and not only provide protection from rain and snow to items stored in the bed of your truck but also help prevent theft. These covers can range from simple vinyl roll up covers affixed with snaps or Velcro, to aluminum covers or fibreglass lids painted to match your truck’s exterior. Retractable covers are also available and offer the best of both worlds as they can be easily adjusted to allow access to your trucks bed when hauling larger items.

In addition to the huge variety of aftermarket products, truck manufacturers have also gotten into the game and offer numerous brand specific accessories. Ford, for example, offers many products for their popular F-150 trucks including bed extenders, splash guards, cargo management items, step bars, and fog lights. Although the accessories installed directly at the dealership may be slightly more expensive, the fact that the cost can be built into the financing is an added bonus. Plus, the products are then covered by the factory warranty.

There are certainly varying degrees of quality available in the accessory market and when it comes to items like bumper guards or running boards that are exposed to the elements it’s always best to choose parts constructed of either aluminum or stainless steel. It’s also important to ensure that stainless steel bolts and hardware are utilized to affix all exterior accessories.

When selecting an aftermarket accessory, especially electronic items, it’s also a good idea to ensure that the product will not affect your trucks warranty.

PaulWilliamsonisalifelongloverofall thingsautomotiveandamemberofthe AutomobileJournalistAssociationofCanada

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