Pickup trucks are designed with work-ready features, but there's always room for improvement. Whether you use your truck on the jobsite, around your property, or as a pack mule to lug cargo and trailers, there are modifications you can make that will improve its function.
The average tax return for 2012 is $2,899 and since you should be clutching your tax return about now we collected nine things with an overall total that is close to that figure. These are things we would use our return (or yours, if you'll send it to us) to purchase for our work truck. Whether you add a few of these or all of them, we think you'll be happy with the results.
AMP Research BedStep
Climbing in and out of your pickup truck bed can be a hassle and it gets old fast. One way to make it easier and less annoying is with the AMP Research BedStep. This frame-mounted, bolt-on, flip-down step is engineered to support loads up to 300 pounds and it features high-strength aluminum alloy components, stainless steel pivot pins, and maintenance-free, self-lubricating bushings. If you live in a corrosion-prone environment you'll be happy to know that it has a military-spec, corrosion-resistant, anodized and Teflon-coated finish. The BedStep has a non-slip, glass-reinforced composite step pad that is large enough for two boots. The BedStep is built in America and it's available for a number of GM, Ford, Dodge, Ram, and Toyota trucks. The MSRP is $212.
Contact: AMP Research
Engo E16000 Winch
Unlike backcountry trailriding where we adhere to the "buddy rule" of wheeling with another rig for safety, often work trucks are on the site alone, so if a recovery is needed the truck must be self sufficient. A winch is a great way to ensure that you can get your rig unstuck should the need arise. But choosing a winch for a work truck is different than a trail rig because often work trucks are loaded with heavy cargo or they're towing a trailer. This means that ideally a work truck should be fitted with the highest capacity winch you can afford. The Engo E16000 winch makes that easy with a budget-friendly price of only $560 (Internet price including shipping). The E16000's features include a rated line pull of 16,000 pounds, a 3.2 horsepower series-wound motor, three-stage planetary gearing, automatic load-holding brake, a rugged hand remote, and a four-way galvanized roller fairlead.
Warn W650 Series Lights
Work doesn't just happen in the daylight or in perfect weather, so good lighting is critical. Unfortunately, most pickup trucks are only fitted from the factory with forward-facing headlamps. Naturally, supplementing those lamps will vastly improve visibility. Warn offers the W650 series lights that can help you do just that. The W650D is a long-range driving light and the W650F is a fog beam light with a 70-degree beam spread and low-glare yellow light. Both are 6½ inches in diameter and have a 55-watt, H3 halogen bulb. As an added bonus, the lights come standard with a wireless remote control so there's less wiring. Each kit has an MSRP of $224.26 and includes two lights, mounting hardware, wireless control, transmitter, wiring, rock guards and covers.
Contact: Warn Industries
Escort SmartSite Mirror with Rear Camera
We've often had so much stuff piled in the cargo area of our pickup that we couldn't see what was directly behind the truck when backing up. And even when the bed is empty, sometimes hooking up a trailer is a time-consuming game of guesswork. Neither of these situations is good. If your truck didn't come from the factory with a rearview camera and you want to know what's going on back there, take a look at the Escort SmartSite mirror with rear camera. This kit replaces your original equipment rearview mirror with a LCD color-digital rearview camera system. It can support up to two cameras with the highest priority going to the reversing function. After using a rearview camera you'll wonder what you ever did without it. The SmartSite is available on the Escort website for $249.95.
Husky Liners X-act Contour Floor Mats
There's no reason why you have to gag when you open the door of your work truck. One way to keep funky odors at bay is a set of floor mats that trap and hold the crud you drag in on your shoes or boots so it doesn't saturate the carpet in your rig. Floor mats will also keep corrosion-causing water and road salt from resting on your rigs floorboards. Vehicle-specific X-act Contour floor liners from Husky Liners come in the color black and are made from a rubberized material. They use molded nibs and the factory carpet hooks and fasteners (if so equipped) to help hold the liners in place. Raised arching ribs keep your shoes up and out of the mess and the liners withstand most harmful chemicals including oil, gas, and battery acid. They also have a lifetime warranty against cracking and breaking. A pair of front floor liners has an MSRP of $135.95.
Contact: Husky Liners
Superlift eXtreme Ring
Work trucks often travel over gnarly terrain and they need to be protected underneath from damage. One of the weak points under any truck is the differential covers. These covers are often made from thin metal that can be damaged by things like rocks and tree stumps. One way to help guard against diff cover damage is the Superlift eXtreme Ring. The eXtreme Ring is constructed of laser-cut ¼-inch steel plate for superior strength and an exact fit. The eXtreme Ring mounts over the differential cover and reinforces the seal area while providing protection. Applications are available for a wide variety of axles found under GM, Ford, and Dodge/Ram trucks. The eXtreme Ring shown here is for the 11.5-inch rear axle under the '03-'12 Dodge Ram 2500/3500 trucks. The eXtreme Ring has a street price of $118 to $135.
Contact: Superlift Suspension Systems
Wrangler Power Products Dual Battery Kit
Your trucks electrical system was designed to provide ample current for operation in stock form. Thing is, most work trucks are loaded with aftermarket electrical items that far surpass the factory electrical system design parameters. One way to address that is to install an auxiliary battery and battery management system like those offered by Wrangler Power Products. The kits are available in single or double trays, as well as universal or vehicle-specific. The trays are precision cut from 12-gauge steel and powdercoated for durability. The pre-wired battery management system allows you three settings including the ability to draw from the auxiliary battery should you drain the main battery. The dual battery kits have an MSRP ranging from $349.99 to 399.99.
Contact: Wrangler Power Products
Ride-Rite Air Helper Springs
Air helper springs will improve your rigs manners while towing and hauling. And if you have a work truck you're probably doing both of those things regularly. Firestone's Ride-Rite kits are available for most light trucks and each application is designed to maximize the vehicle's safe load-carrying capacity, stability, ride quality, and brake effectiveness. Most Ride-Rite kits do not require drilling and the kits are designed to use factory holes and mount between the factory frame and suspension. Installation is typically 1 to 2 hours. We've installed Ride-Rite kits on a couple of work trucks with very good results. Ride-Rite kits have an average MSRP of $400 and come with everything needed to complete the install.
Contact: Firestone Industrial Products Company
Weather Guard Saddle Box
Bed-mounted toolboxes have a slew of uses and you can customize the interiors to suit your needs. We have an air compressor and hose reel bolted in ours, along with all of our recovery supplies. If you need safe, secure storage, a Weather Guard truck toolbox may be the answer. One option is the model 127-0-02 aluminum fullsize saddle box. It suspends from the side rails of your pickup, which allows for plenty of room underneath so you can slide low-profile items like drywall or plywood all the way to the front of the cargo box. The Weather Guard box has an Extreme Protection lock, full weather seal, automotive-style latch, latch linkage protection, and 12-volt access for electrical upfits. It also features a clearcoat powdercoat finish to stand up to harsh environments and use. The 127-0-02 is available on the Weather Guard website for $826.
Contact: Weather Guard