As truck operators, we of course have the responsibility of keeping up on things like oil changes, intermittent grease jobs and other preventative maintenance to keep our trucks and trailers in peak operating condition. Most of this is hidden from plain view though, at least until a closer inspection is conducted, but you must be sure not to neglect the parts of your truck that are in plain sight as well. The old saying, “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck” holds a lot of parallels to the way the scale house operator eyeballs your truck as it rolls across the scales. From several discussions I’ve had with different scale house officers, you can bet that a little bit of attention to detail on the little things can go a long way in them passing over your truck for one that is “wearing a larger target".
First impressions usually happen upon a first handshake or conversation, but in our case it can often happen under the watchful eye of pulling over a set of scales shortly after seeing those famous words, “All Trucks Stop at Scales”. From tip to tail, here are a few quick “little things” you can check to lessen the odds you get the red light and voice over the speaker telling you to pull around back to the inspection bay:
- Clean grille and headlights – the first thing they see is your truck's "smile", which helps make a good or bad impression for yourself before you even start your approach onto the scale. Also, if your headlights are foggy, have them polished or pick up a quick headlight restoring kit at your local auto part store for $25. It’s worth it, I promise!
- Windows clean – Though you should have both windows rolled down when going through, make sure your windshield doesn’t have so much bug guts on it that they can’t see you inside!
- Wheels Clean – Make sure you check for weeping wheel seal rubber grommets and clean up any streaks they may have left. Road grime builds up quick and just a quick microfiber wipe can make them gleam once again.
- Clean your dash – Time and time again I see what looks to be the equivalent of a couple months worth of paperwork piled up on truck dashes as I run through the truck stops for fuel. Do yourself a favor and remember, “A clean dash can get you a free pass!” It holds a lot of truth when it comes to not getting pulled around back.
- Wash your truck and trailer – A clean truck is by far the easiest way to make a good impression at the scale. Even if you don’t own the trailer you pull, wash it if you are hooked to it when you wash your truck. Most companies, including my own, will reimburse for this because it aids in image projection. I even tell my drivers I’ll spring for the wax and tire dressing too if they get it on their trucks as well!
- Lights – Nothing says pull me in (except for maybe the visual aids and next bullet point following this one) quite like a light out. Whether a clearance, headlight, taillight, or even license plate light, you are almost guaranteed to get some unwanted attention from an empty inspection bay if you have something as noticeable as this (especially at night)!
- Mudflaps – A picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll let my photos of this beautiful example of “hanging on by a thread” speak for itself!