Trucking is one of the most popular and important jobs in the world, as they play an integral role in our supply chain. In the US alone, there are over 3.5 million truck drivers on the road today.
However, that doesn’t mean that every trucker knows their truck as well as they should. This can pose both safety hazards on the road and unnecessary expenses for repairs.
Understanding basic truck maintenance is an important and often overlooked part of the job. Let’s talk about some helpful truck maintenance tips that all truck drivers should use before hitting the road.
1. Drive Carefully
Without question, the most important trucking maintenance tips take place on the road. For example, following the regulations in your area about weight and speed are not only safety issues, but they will directly benefit your truck. The way you drive any vehicle plays a large role in how long it will last.
Always drive with care, mind your accelerations, and pay attention to speed. Driving with a maintenance mentality will only make you a safer and more effective trucker. It will also preserve your engine and transmission for as long as possible.
2. Check Fluid Levels Regularly
Especially before a long haul, it can save a fortune to simply check your fluid levels on a regular basis. If you drive the same truck regularly, you may notice changes happening faster than anticipated. However, the only way to notice these is to check often.
If you don’t, you could easily find yourself stranded in an isolated spot. Fluid leaks happen all the time, and they can easily lead to a breakdown. Always double-check and do your best to keep fluids near their designated fill lines.
Also, if all of your fluids appear filled in their reservoirs, but you find loose fluids in your engine bay, this is important to address right away. Grab a paper towel and see what color it is. It could be an oil leak, a leaking hose, or worse.
3. Tires, Tires, Tires
We can’t stress this enough. Inspecting, inflating, and monitoring your tires is essential. Not only are they the only part of your truck that makes contact with the ground, but they are a major safety hazard, and they affect the rest of the vehicle.
Your tire pressure has a direct impact on fuel economy, oil life, engine strain, and more. Always check your tire pressure before a long haul after the truck is fully loaded. It wouldn’t hurt to check it periodically throughout the trip, as well.
Also, check your tires for uneven wear, bubbling, or any other concerns. If one is deflating faster than the others, inspect it for nails or other punctures. Both underinflated and overinflated tires can cause serious issues on the road.
When tires rip off of your truck on the highway, this poses a major safety hazard to other drivers on the road. The only way to prevent this is with due diligence and operating at the proper weight.
4. Test the Battery
Checking the battery before a long drive is a great idea. Ensure that the electrical system is working properly, and if you have a battery tester, use it. This is especially important in the winter, as cool temperatures may prevent you from starting your vehicle while on a haul.
Of course, if the truck starts up, the battery is working. However, it should operate at a certain voltage, and the terminal should be free of rust and corrosion.
Also, feel free to look at the wires and cables to ensure they are not damaged. Mice and rats are known to feast on wires as they seek the warmth of the engine.
5. Listen and Feel
If everything looks good, do a test drive with the vehicle before a long haul to see how the truck is operating. If you hear any concerning noises or if the drive feels off, it may be a sign that you need to get it checked out.
Pay attention to the clutch and the gear shifts as you drive, and try to listen to the engine. If the RPMs are out of control or the shifts feel too harsh, then it’s best to get it checked out. Engine and transmission problems only get worse with time.
6. Take Your Time on the Checklist
Before hitting the road, don’t rush yourself. It’s better to get there safely and without issues than to start as soon as possible. This is especially true in the winter when breaking down can be quite dangerous.
Check your fluids, fill them up if they need it, inspect your tires, and do a final sweep over everything before hitting the road. If something concerns you, like a fast leak, discolored fluid, or uneven tires, don’t start the trip until you’re comfortable.
More importantly, if something does concern you and you aren’t sure, don’t just guess. Bring your truck to an experienced diesel mechanic and have the car inspected professionally. Preventative care can save thousands of dollars and potentially lives!
Truck Drivers: Put These Maintenance Tips to Use
Now that you have a little more information about truck maintenance, truck drivers should follow these tips before hitting the road every time. A few extra minutes can go a long way for an easier ride, an easier job, and safer roads for everybody.
Stay up to date with our latest trucking tips, and don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or for help with your truck!