8 Essential Add-Ons for Heavy-Duty Pickup Trucks

truck tool boxes

For heavy-duty pickup trucks owners, customizing their vehicles with certain add-ons enhances functionality, style, and performance. If you want to spice up your truck’s style, you’ve come to the right place for suggestions with trial and tested hacks! Here are eight of the most essential add-ons to consider for your truck.

Bed Liner

A bed liner protects the bed of your truck from scratches, dents, and corrosion. The three main options are spray-on bed liners, drop-in bed liners, or bed mats. Spray-on liners provide the most durable protection and are professionally installed, and they coat the entire bed using polyurethane spray, which dries to a hard plastic coating. 

Drop-in liners are easily installed DIY but still offer good protection. They feature ridged undersides that grip onto the bed to prevent sliding. Bed mats are the most affordable option, providing basic protection and cushioning. They are made of rubber, polyurethane, or carpet and are designed to lay flat in the bed. A spray-on or high-quality drop-in liner is best for heavy duty pickup trucks needs or constant hauling. An affordable bed mat will suit basic needs to prevent minor scratches.

Tonneau Cover

A tonneau cover protects your truck bed and its contents from the elements while improving gas mileage slightly. Hard tonneau covers offer the most security, but roll-up soft ones are more convenient when accessing the bed frequently. A roll-up cover will keep out light weather, but a hard cover protects cargo from all types of weather. 

Hardcovers open in sections or have hinged fronts, while soft covers roll up. For maximum security, a hard trifold or solid hard lid is best. A soft trifold or roll-up tonneau will suit you well to access the bed or in milder weather frequently.

Running Boards

Running boards, also called side steps, nerf bars, or tube steps, make getting in and out of high-sitting trucks easier. Electric running boards automatically extend downwards when the doors open for convenient access and retract when the doors are closed. Standard running boards and side steps also provide footing but remain stationary. 

For handicapped access or older riders, powered running boards are the most helpful. Standard running boards are more affordable and suitable for most truck owners. Look for running boards of corrosion-resistant aluminum, rigid, or stainless steel.


A toolbox lets you store important tools, equipment, and other gear in your pickup truck bed. Cross-bed toolboxes sit over the bed rails; a side-mount toolbox is mounted on one side of the bed wall, while a chest toolbox resembles a chest and opens from the top. 

Look for truck tool boxes made of steel for the most durability with a weather-resistant and locking lid. A chest toolbox opens fully for easy access, while a cross bed or side mount toolbox has smaller openings. Consider one that matches or complements your truck’s color and style. For high security, choose a box with sturdy locks to deter theft.

Suspension Upgrades

For improved ground clearance and a smoother ride over rugged terrain, consider a suspension upgrade like a lift kit, leveling kit, or air suspension. A lift kit raises the vehicle’s front and rear evenly for maximum lift. A leveling kit raises the front to level out an uneven stance or rake. Air suspension lowers and raises the vehicle at the push of a button for convenient access. 

Lift kits require modifying suspension components and may reduce stability and handling if raised too high. Leveling and air suspension kits provide a moderate lift for most off-roading needs. A higher lift kit with shock absorbers tuned to your lift height works best for extreme off-road use.

Tow Hitch

A tow hitch is a must-have add-on for towing heavy loads like RVs, boats, or trailers. The three common types are bumper hitches, gooseneck hitches, and fifth-wheel hitches. Bumper hitches are the most affordable but have limited towing capacity. Gooseneck and fifth-wheel hitches connect to mounts in the bed and can tow the heaviest loads. 

Match your hitch to a suitable towing capacity for your intended cargo. Gooseneck hitches are the most heavy-duty, followed by fifth wheel and bumper hitches. A gooseneck or fifth-wheel hitch for most pickup trucks should suit towing needs well. Ensure your truck’s tow rating and any additional towing components, like transmission coolers, can handle the load.

Performance Exhaust System

For more power, an aggressive rumble, and a performance look, install a performance exhaust system like a cat-back, axle-back, or header-back system. A cat-back system replaces pipes from the catalytic converter back, axle-back from the rear axle back and header-back from the exhaust manifold back. Cat-back and header-back systems require professional installation but provide the most power gains. 

An axle-back system can be installed yourself for a budget-friendly sound upgrade. Look for a rugged steel or aluminum system with mandrel-bent pipes and a polished finish. Performance exhaust increases engine sound for most systems, but some provide 10 to 20 horsepower or more power upgrades.

Auxiliary Lighting

Auxiliary lighting improves your visibility and the view of your surroundings. Common options include light bars, work/scene, and fog lights. A light bar produces a large spread of light for visibility over a long distance, and work/scene lights are used to spotlight a specific area. Fog lights have a wide, short beam perfect for cutting through fog, smoke, and other adverse weather conditions with low visibility. 

For off-roading or country driving, a row of spotlights, a medium-sized light bar, and front fog lamps work well together. A set of fog lamps will do the trick to improve headlight visibility only in poor weather. Consider a rugged and waterproof design able to withstand vibration and the elements.


In conclusion, the right add-ons can significantly increase your heavy-duty pickup trucks functionality, capability, and style. Whether it’s increased protection, storage, power, clearance, or lighting, there is an affordable upgrade option for your truck’s needs and how you use it. Customizing your truck allows you to make it perfectly suited to your lifestyle and how you drive. What upgrades do you have in mind for your pickup?