PRINEVILLE, OR—Charles "Chuck" Maurer, a local lumberyard manager and father of two, wants only the very best for his 2002 Ford F150 extended-cab truck, the 41-year-old reported Monday.
"Growing up, my family didn't have much money," said Maurer, ignoring his son Cory's pleas to play catch. "There were lots of things we couldn't afford, that we had to make do without. But now that I make a good wage, I want my own truck to have all the things my dad's truck never had."
Since purchasing the F150 last April, Maurer has treated it to numerous small upgrades, including wheel covers, floor mats, radar detector, and sun shield, as well as costlier, factory-installed features such as anti-lock brakes, cruise control, and air bags.
Though he makes an effort to pay equal attention to the family's other vehicle, the 1994 Chevy Corsica his wife June uses to drive to work and pick up sons Cory, 12, and Kyle, 10, from school, Maurer admitted that the truck is "his baby."
"I know everyone thinks their truck is the best in the world, but mine is really something special," said Maurer, pulling a canvas cover over the vehicle and giving the cab an affectionate pat. "Nothing but the best for my F150."
Maurer said he sometimes worries that he is spoiling his truck, but he confessed to doing it anyway.
"When I gave it leather seats and a custom grill cover, a part of me feared it was too much," Maurer said. "But then I thought about Dad's poor '75 Chevy pick-up and how it didn't have any options. If you want your truck to be the best it can possibly be, you need to make sure it has options."
"If your truck has the very best right from the start, like this power 6.0L V8 with 325 horsepower, it's less likely to struggle later," continued Maurer, who plans to skip Kyle's school play Friday to take his truck fishing. "You always want to make sure your truck is equipped to cope with life's bumpy roads."
Maurer said he makes sure to spend plenty of quality time with his truck.
"In this day and age, too many truck owners try to pawn off responsibility to someone else," Maurer said. "They just drop it off at the Jiffy Lube or Tires Plus and assume that's okay. But a mechanic is no substitute for an owner: If you don't actually put in the time with your own truck, how can you know what's really going on under the hood? That's why I never miss any of the important events. I'm there for every tire rotation, oil change, and radiator flush-and-fill, even if it means having to take time off from work."
Maurer said he has always firmly believed that proper maintenance begins at home.
"You have to really get to know your truck; you have to listen to it," Maurer said. "If you do, you'll pick up on those little clicks and whines that are signs of bigger problems. Even when it's running perfectly and it seems like nothing's bothering it, your truck is trying to tell you things. You just have to have the patience to hear."
Though he primarily uses his truck to drive to work and run errands around town, Maurer said it is important to "make sure the engine gets some exercise" by driving at higher speeds.
"Sometimes, I'll take a special trip out to the state forest or to a Seahawks game so I can open it up to 75 or 85 on the interstate," Maurer said. "It's good to push your truck once in a while. A few nicks and dings are part of life."
"But just enough to build a little character," Maurer clarified. "When I see someone mistreat a vehicle, it makes me want to cry."
Maurer shared a horror story of a coworker who abused his truck.
"This guy would let his fool son run his S-10 all over town and, sure enough, about a year ago, it was in an accident. The whole driver's side was smashed in, and the windshield blew right out of the frame," Maurer said. "I guess it could've been worse. At least the chassis wasn't hurt, thank God."
As much as he hates to see a truck physically abused, Maurer said neglect can be just as harmful.
"Some men ignore their trucks for years, and then, when rust spots appear, they act surprised," Maurer said. "By that point, though, it's too late. So I always tell truck owners to cherish the early years and make the most of them. You can't undo the damage you do to a truck, and when the warranty expires, you can't go back in time and relive those years."