should i be able to steer the wheels back and forth without the motor running? because they don't move. i flip the red switch on the transmitter and they do so i know things are working. also could this be because I'm missing the servo 2018 linkage?
yep, you should just be able to turn on transmitter, and turn the truck on, and you should be able to give it throttle, brake, and steer it.
Check if you have the batterys connected, or if there dead.
at least you dident find out when it was running i cranked my car without the controler around and it shot off through 4yards and fliped over