More than 1.6 million long-haul trucks were on the road in the U.S. during 2014, according to a 2015 American Trucking Associations (ATA) report. That number has continually increased since 2010. And whether you make shorter local deliveries or travel coast to coast, as your truck ages, it is more likely to break down.
If you don’t want to get caught standing on the sidelines while your truck sits in the repair shop, consider implementing these four preventive maintenance and idling tips.
Take Care of the Engine
One of the most important parts of your truck is the engine. And one of the best ways to keep your truck running and on the road is to follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule, checking the fluids and performing tune-ups and fluid changes when necessary.
In addition to a general fluid check, also inspect all belts to make sure they remain in good shape, assess the condition of all plugs and wires, and look for leaks in and around the engine area.
Protecting the engine by changing the fluids, belts, plugs, and wires when necessary can help significantly extend the lifecycle of your truck.
Keep the Truck Body Clean
The exterior of your truck plays a big part in protecting both the interior of the vehicle cab and vital components, including the engine, radiator, and other important vehicle parts. To prevent the buildup of dirt and debris, which can lead to rust and corrosion, wash your truck regularly, especially after long hauls.
In addition to washing the truck body, apply a coat of wax to further protect the paint and truck body underneath from exposure to the elements and harmful, corrosive substances, such as bird droppings, bugs, and salt. When you do encounter these damaging substances, wash them off as soon as possible. Also clean the windows every day to ensure you have a clear line of sight while driving.
Monitor Tires to Avoid Damage
To avoid flats, blowouts, and excessive tire wear, check your tires’ tread wear and inflation regularly. And, when needed, replace worn or damaged tires.
Also, while performing your pre-trip inspection or when examining your truck while stopped, look for any leaks around the trailer wheels. This could indicate problems with the tires, hub, or lug nuts. Catching a faulty truck tire or wheel early can save you the headache of costly problems later on.
Cut Down on Idling
Truck idling accounts for much of the wear and tear on a truck’s engine. And with today’s improved engine technology, idling for long periods is actually discouraged. The problem with idling is that the truck engine only partially combusts the fuel within it, leading to buildup on components and less efficient fuel mileage. In addition, the engine needs the air flow of driving down the road to adequately cool the engine.
According to a Teletrac White Paper, The Real Effects of Engine Idle Time, engine idling burns more than 6 billion gallons of diesel fuel a year unnecessarily. By cutting down on idling, you can save unnecessary wear and tear on your truck’s engine, significantly extend your truck’s lifecycle, and reduce your overall fuel costs.