By G.R. Whale
Sooner or later a buddy will find a great deal on a boat, apartment or car and ask to borrow your pickup truck. With any luck he or she will know not to request your showpiece, long-term project or fresh-off-the-lot new truck. With the help of a few common-sense rules, you'll still be buddies when your truck is returned.
I've borrowed vehicles from at least 50 people throughout the decades, everything from Porsches, Mercedes-Benzes and Cadillac limos to pickup trucks, flat and dump trailers. Nothing's been stolen, but flat tires and rocks have happened. Because we followed some simple guidelines, my friends and I are still on speaking and loaning terms.
The truck owner is taking a risk for you, so practice risk management while the truck is in your possession. Drive defensively; accidents do occur and it bodes well for you to show you weren't speeding or texting, were sober and using signals, and didn't have the truck overloaded. Park it with safety in mind: in a garage if you have it or off the street if you don't.
Loaner and loanee should both check with their insurance agents about coverage. In most cases, the policy of the person lending the vehicle is the primary insurance in the event of an accident. If the loanee has a license but no car or insurance, make sure he understands in advance that he's on the hook for any deductible if things go wrong.
Make sure the loanee knows the location of the registration documents, just in case. Give the truck a thorough once-over to make sure the owner hasn't left behind personal items, especially those that might get both of you in trouble.
Ensure everyone is on the same page about what the truck will be used for, the approximate miles that will be driven and when it will be returned. If the loanee will be towing, he should use his own tow ball on rusty trailer tongues, and he should provide bed protection and tie-downs for loads in the pickup bed.
Know how to work everything and what grade fuel the pickup uses. Locking gas caps or wheel lugs without keys can create problems as do uninflated or missing spare tires. Make sure the loanee has what he needs before he takes off. Also make sure the loanee knows the vehicle's quirks — things like finicky fuel gauge or speedometers, gears that don't work or how the theft-protection system works.
Unless the loanee is a regular truck driver, make sure he or she knows the dimensions of your truck, including the height. I've driven plenty of stock pickup trucks that will not fit into residential garages; people driving unfamiliar, large vehicles forget to look up, account for footwide mirrors or remember the bus-size turning radius.
If the truck has memory seats, make sure the owner's is set before you start adjusting. Don't put your own setting in and do not change the radio presets, navigation destinations list, owner's phone book or anything else. If out-of-town family members are borrowing the truck, verify that "home" is set in the nav system.
Don't eat or smoke in the truck unless the owner does and approves you to do the same. I don't ride with anyone a borrowed-truck owner hasn't met beforehand. Your wet hunting dog or workout gear don't go on the seats, nor does ketchup or hot fudge.
Have a breakdown plan — what you'll do if the truck stops. I've been told "take it to the dealer," "call my cellphone" and "leave it DRT [dead right there]." I'm capable of rebuilding an engine but some owners prefer I do no more than change a fuse or fan belt.
If the loan requires putting significant miles on the truck, ask the owner if it's due for maintenance of any kind during your loan window and how to handle it. An oil change usually costs less than a daily rental, even at some dealers, so consider offering to have that done.
In part two, we'll cover how to return the truck.