Preventative maintenance is a critical part of operating a semi truck. Keeping a close eye on any problems that may arise will help drivers stay on the road longer with less time down, and in turn, less money loss by not having a truck that is running to full capacity. Having a proactive, regularly scheduled maintenance plan that is extensive will ensure small problems do not become large problems.
Often the steps for maintenance plans vary from inspections before and after a trip, any major or minor repairs are dealt with right away and an investment to have the truck regularly inspected by a heavy-duty mechanic.
One of the first thing most drivers learn is how to conduct a full and proper pre/post trip inspection on the truck and trailer. A standard inspection is put in place to avoid damage to the truck or trailer and even could prevent life threating situations for the drivers. With experience most inspection usually only take about 15 minutes. Some requirements for an inspection include, but not limited to checking:
- Brake connections
- Steering mechanisms
- Emergency equipment
For a full list of what should be included in a pre/post trip inspection, click here.
It is important not to wait if there is any sign of a repair that needs to be done. This could be as simple as a windshield wiper that is beginning to show signs of wear. It may seem minor but if a driver is caught in a rain or snow storm it may impact the driver’s ability to see. Therefore, they may need to pull over and that is unnecessary time down which is money lost. This is a perfect example of fixing minor issues right away and not putting them off is such a benefit.
As a driver it is vital to keep track of regular maintenance that needs to be done, monitoring the oil level in the vehicle and knowing when the 25,000 mile marker is coming so that an oil change can be completed on time can help to ensure smooth operation of the truck.
Not only does a driver need to complete the required preventative maintenance it also needs to be documented. A planned schedule of regular service for the truck for 12 months is often required to be submitted to the governing body to stay compliant with all regulations.
Drivers should also keep in mind seasonal maintenance. As the warmer months approach, making sure the air conditioner is in good working order. Along with that, it is a good time to drain, flush and pressure test the coolant system. When the cooler months approach it is always a good idea to thoroughly check the windshield for chips and cracks that the cool weather could make worse, as well as, your tire thread and braking system to ensure you can stop as quickly as possible if the roads are slick.
Preventative maintenance should be a key component in any trucking operation big or small. In the long run, it will save money and prevent downtime that can be expensive and stressful.