Maintaining Your Equipment
Maintenance on your truck (and trailer) is the most important part of your truck ownership experience, especially with the technical nature of today’s equipment. It is generally referred to as “preventive maintenance” for a very good reason: Regular maintenance puts you ahead of mechanical problems, and is essential in keeping your equipment safe and road-worthy, increases up-time and helping to prevent costly repairs and missed appointments on the road.
Besides your regular pre and post trip inspections, these basics apply to one truck operators as well as mega fleet operations.
The major areas of maintenance fall into these categories:
- Drivetrain (engine, transmission, axles)Engine oil and filter changes
- After Treatment System (DPF)
- Charge Air Cooler (CAC) Leaks
- Transmission gear oil
- Clutch (adjustment and hydraulic fluids)
- Engine and transmission mounts
- Drive shafts or CV joints
- Exhaust system
- Undercarriage and frame
- Brakes (including park brakes)
- Tires (inflation and condition)
- Electrical (lighting and wiring)Electrical system components
- Exterior and interior lights
- Chassis (suspensions, steering, etc.)Steering and suspension system
- Wheels and rims
- Auxiliary systems (APU)
- Attached items (Headache racks, tire chain hangers)
- Cab (glass, interior)
- Windshield wiper system
- Seat belts and seat structure
*Always refer to your specific equipment manufacturer’s suggested schedules for maintenance.
Most items that you will be maintaining are part of regular DOT inspections, so this helps with your roadside stops. It may help, while checking over your equipment, to follow a DOT inspection form.
Seasonally, you should be aware of things that are affected by heat and cold. Cooling systems and batteries can break down in the summer and winter equally. Your cooling system, obviously, keeps the summer heat from causing engine issues and warms your truck during the cold winter months. Batteries weaken in the heat (swelling, loss of electrolytes,) and drain in the winter cold if not kept charged.
During winter months, depending on the lanes you travel, you will encounter all sorts of ice prevention compounds, including salts that negatively impact your truck’s chassis and exterior wiring. Wash your truck and pay attention to the under carriage. Most truck washes offer chassis and under wash.
Temperature changes have a direct effect on tires, too.Tire pressure rises in heat, and drops in the cold. Check with a gauge regularly and do not depend on the “beater test.”
The main thing to remember is that it costs less to do your maintenance and make repairs as things wear than to wait until an unattended, small issue becomes a large, expensive breakdown.
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