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Keeping Your Semi-Truck Ready for the Road

truck on the road

Trucks are much more than just a means of transportation. They’re also used for all sorts of things, like carrying goods and materials across town or countrywide—but what happens when your truck needs maintenance?

Preventative Maintenance

Just like you go to the doctor for an annual check-up, your truck needs relatively frequent tune-ups too to maintain peak performance. Trucks have an especially difficult job, having to travel on often challenging terrain and through all sorts of weather conditions. So before each trip, your truck must be operating at its best, letting you avoid losses from downtime.

The Benefits of Preventative Maintenance

There are many benefits to preventative maintenance, including:

1. Lower Downtime: With less time spent in the shop, your truck will be on the road more often and making you money.

2. Save Money: By catching issues early and preventing larger problems from happening, you’ll save money in the long run by avoiding costly repairs.

3. Increased Efficiency: Regular maintenance schedules will help vehicles run more smoothly and efficiently. It improves the performance of your vehicle and its reliability, giving you more confidence.

4. Truck & Driver Safety: By performing preventative maintenance on your vehicles, you can help ensure the safety of your trucks and drivers. Poor maintenance puts your trucks and drivers at risk for damages to not only the goods, but also to themselves in terms of potential injuries or fatalities.

5. Increase in Fuel Efficiency: Trucks consume a lot of fuel, so by utilizing preventative maintenance measures, you can make sure your truck is running as efficiently as possible which will save you money in the long run. A well-maintained vehicle will be more fuel efficient than one that isn’t regularly maintained.

6. Save on replacement costs: Breakdowns are common for big fleets, and it’s always better to be prepared with preventative maintenance rather than waiting until something happens. On-road repairs can be expensive, especially if the parts aren’t available locally. In some cases, the repair or replacement cost is so high that it becomes a burden. With a preventative plan in place, you will have an easier time during these unexpected situations.

A trucker whose rig has broken down calls for on-site repair services

Types of Maintenance Plans

There are different types of preventative maintenance practiced. However, if you’re not sure which one works best for you, here’s a quick description of each one:

1. Time-based: Also called calendar-based maintenance, this type is done at regular intervals. Vehicles regularly undergo inspections in this simple and commonly used form of maintenance — it’s less expensive than other types.

2. Meter-based: Also known as mileage-based or performance-based maintenance, actions are taken after a certain number of miles are covered — like an engine oil change.

3. Failure-Finder Maintenance: The sole purpose of this maintenance is to detect problems or defects in the truck. This involves intentionally triggering sensors or alarms that detect failures. By doing so, you can prevent any issues from getting worse in the future.

4. Predictive Maintenance: With predictive maintenance, truckers can avoid costly repairs by detecting issues early on. This type of maintenance is based on predictions made by algorithms rather than being done periodically or in reaction to a problem. By catching problems before they occur, companies using this technology can save money long-term.

Checklist for Preventative Maintenance

A preventative maintenance checklist is an essential component of your daily routine. The trucking industry doesn’t have a defined checklist, so every company has its own that’s suitable to the type of vehicles they own. That being said, certain points are part of almost every preventative maintenance checklist as per industry standards.

  1. Engine
  2. Fluids
  3. Chassis
  4. Brakes
  5. Driveability checks
  6. Emergency equipment

Making a Preventative Maintenance Checklist

Here are some things to remember while making a checklist that’s just right for you.

  1. Keep your preventative maintenance checklist items short. Each should only focus on a few items at once.
  2. Your checklist only works if you have a complete and accurate list of every individual item that requires preventative maintenance.
  3. Refer to the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) manuals as much as you can. The manufacturers know the best way to maintain their products, so your checklist should conform to them.
  4. Try to remember or consult your records for non-OEM parts. Make sure your checklist considers this, and in the future, consider whether you’re going for heavy-duty aftermarket parts or going back to OEM.
  5. Make checklists for different schedules. For example, make a daily checklist, a weekly checklist, a monthly checklist, and so on for different time periods.

Final Thoughts

Maintaining a semi-truck can seem daunting, but with the right preventative maintenance measures in place, it doesn’t have to be. There are many types of preventive maintenance plans, and each one has its own benefits. By creating your own customized checklist, you can make sure that your truck is always running efficiently. Remember to refer to manuals as much as possible and keep your checklists short and concise. Doing so will help you stay on top of all the necessary preventive maintenance tasks.

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