Truck Maintenance Checklist: If You’re Not Doing This Every 3 Months, You’re Asking For Trouble

Purchasing a new tractor-trailer can set a company back about $200,000 – not something you want to do too often. And having even one truck off the road for one day for repairs is costly to business and to our customers. That’s why Wadhams believes in preventative care for our trucks. It can extend truck life by five to ten years.

What’s good for the truck is good for the company and its employees and, ultimately, the customer.

Anticipate, Identify and Solve

At Wadhams we schedule preventative maintenance every three months to reduce the risk of vehicle breakdown on the roads, improve our reliability and maximize our ability to get the job done and make our deliveries safely and on time.

Repairs, especially breakdown calls on the road, are expensive. That’s why anticipating, identifying and solving potential problems can help our fleet do what it does best – deliver the goods on time. Our technicians are constantly on the lookout for things that might go wrong so they can fix them and keep our business ahead of the game. We do an inspection and lubrication, and check the lights, coupling mechanisms, safety apparatus and other systems like the axles and refrigeration units.

The first step starts with our drivers doing a visual pre- and post-trip inspection of their trucks. This could identify impending problems that can be repaired between service and maintenance calls. Between 9,000 and 18,000 miles our trucks are given a major overhaul, and to check key problem areas such as tires, U-bolts and batteries, among myriad other things.

A major prevention zone is the tires on a truck. Long trips cause tires to wear down rapidly and with super single tires costing $800 this essential for trucks is high on the list for routine checks. It is important to measure tire tread depth. New tires have a tire depth of 20-30 32nds of an inch. If they fall too far below this guideline, it’s time to replace the tire rather than risk a flat when the driver is 5,000 miles away from the terminal.

U-bolts hold the springs together and loosen over time. Tap them with a hammer – if they ‘ting’ instead of emitting a solid sound, you know you have a problem.

Summer and winter have specific issues. During the cold months, technicians check that salt has not insinuated itself into bolts and caused rust. The battery and the ignition must be tested to make sure trucks start up immediately.

During hot weather, the air conditioning must be checked.

Lights are common all year round – headlights, turn signals and brake lights can fail any time. Most trucks now use longer-lasting LED lights, but if they are cracked they will fail. Internal moisture also causes corrosion, causing the bulbs to burn out. Older trucks with regular bulbs need servicing to replace burned-out bulbs.

Truck drivers can make between five and one hundred stops a day. Rolling up the back door so many times wears out hinges, which must be checked for age. One way to extend the life and minimize wear and tear on these hinges is to spray gel lube on the parts regularly.

When a tractor-trailer’s exhaust system fails, replacement becomes pricey – the cost of a new filter alone is $5,000, so our technicians make doubly sure to safeguard exhaust systems. One way they do so is by injecting urea diesel emission fluid into the vehicles’ exhaust stream to clean nitrogen oxide (NOx) from the diesel exhaust. In turn, this reduces major air pollutants in the environment.

And last, but definitely not least, Wadhams’ technicians do their best to extend the life of our tractor-trailer brakes by bleeding and flushing the brake fluid. This helps internal components to last longer. Brake pads and rotors are replaced when necessary.

Preventative maintenance every few months may seem expensive to undertake, but the cost of replacing these items en route at another auto shop would be even greater.