To keep your vehicle in great shape, you need to stay on top of repairs. Whether you just bought a new pickup truck, or you have owned one for several years, routine truck maintenance is essential for keeping your truck in peak condition. Conducting regular maintenance will allow you to catch problems early on before they become bigger problems and really put a dent in your wallet.
Here are the top ten preventative maintenance tips that we suggest all trucking businesses follow:
Check fluid levels:
Verifying your engine oil, coolant, transmission, brake, power steering, and other under-hood fluids only takes a few minutes and is an easy way to avoid major problems. If you see a drop in a fluid level between checks, it is a good indication that you have a consumption or leak problem and can fix it before it becomes a major problem.
The frequency for changing your fluids will depend on how many miles you drive, the weight of the loads you carry, and the type of driving you to do (highway, dusty roads, city traffic, etc.) Always follow the manufacturer’s suggestions for changing fluids. Trying to get extra life out of your fluids may save in the short term but cost you big in repairs and breakdowns later.
Verify tire pressures:
Any trucker will tell you that tire pressure is critical to check often on your large truck or tractor-trailer. Your tires are your contact with the road, and you want them inflated properly to avoid uneven wear, maximize fuel economy, and provide optimum traction, braking, and load-carrying ability always.
Check your tires:
Uneven tire wear can be related to tire pressure issues or problems with your alignment or suspension. Include a check of your tire condition and tread depth as part of your preventative maintenance plan. We all know how dangerous a tire blowout can be on the highway, so avoid the cost, delay, and danger of a blowout by inspecting your tires often.
Inspect your brakes:
When you are carrying a full load, you want to be sure you can get stopped safely. Frequently check your brakes and replace them when they reach the minimum wear condition. Also, look for even wear side to side and front to back. This can be a sign that your brake system is not balanced and requires repairs or adjustments to provide correct braking performance.
Check air filters:
A clean air filter can go a long way toward reducing your fuel consumption and helping your engine run more smoothly. As a filter gets clogged, it can reduce the amount of air getting into your engine, reducing power, and lowering fuel economy. Inspect and change your air filter at regular intervals and check more often if you often drive on dirty, dusty roads.
Do a battery load test and electrical system verification:
Long-distance driving and frequent stops and start put your truck’s electrical system to the test. It is a good idea to add your battery, alternator, and electrical system to your preventative maintenance list for a yearly check. If you operate in colder climates, a check before winter is the best way to avoid charging problems.
Inspect your gearbox and clutch: The combination of high-torque engines and heavy loads means your gearbox and clutch are worked hard every time you hit the road. A regular inspection of your gearbox and verification that it is functioning properly can help you catch problems as they arise. You will also want to ensure that your clutch is not slipping, as this can affect reliability and fuel economy.
Check out your exterior lighting:
A quick walk-around verification of your exterior lighting helps you catch burnt-out bulbs and replace them before you hit the road. Avoid being pulled over and wasting time over a burnt bulb and check that all your running, brake, signal, and hazard lights are working properly as part of your preventative maintenance.
INFLATE TIRES TO THE RIGHT LEVELS:
Underinflated tires are a drag on fuel efficiency, and overinflated tires are a safety risk because they are more prone to blowouts or premature tread wear.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save up to 3.3 percent on your fuel bill by keeping your tires properly inflated. To find the proper tire pressure for your truck, check your owner’s manual or the markings around the rim of the tire.
PROTECT YOUR TRUCK AND BUSINESS WITH REGULAR MAINTENANCE CHECKS
Next to fuel and equipment, maintenance is one of the costliest aspects of the trucking industry.
You will be doing yourself a favor in the long run by establishing a regular maintenance plan with a professional, credible truck maintenance and repair company. Regular maintenance checks will not only reduce the costs directly related to repairing the truck, but you will also achieve additional savings by avoiding safety regulation violations and unwelcome delays in making that next critical deadline.