I know you’re not staring, I’m just wondering what you look at or for when you return to your truck from an away break. When stopping at a rest area, a truck stop or even at a customer, as I return to the truck there are things to look for that one may not have noticed walking away. From a distance you can see under the truck for unusual fluid spots or even something may be dragging that was picked up on the road.

When parking, whether a pull thru or a back in space, one should be looking for debris on the ground that could damage a tire or your truck and/or fluid spots left by a previous occupant of that space. One should also be aware of anything overhead that could cause damage, although in a rest area or at a truck stop this shouldn’t be a worry, better safe than sorry. Customer spaces or docks, one may not be as confident about overhead clearances, especially in the winter during snowy conditions. Ok, we’re parked and off to do our business.

PAs one returns doing a truck inspection should be natural, did your neighbors change? I know we are professionals, but sometimes things happen, a slight rub from the truck next to us that they didn’t feel as they left their space and they are gone. Now is the time to notice any damage and report it. Are there more fluid spots now than when you pulled in? Now is the time to investigate and get repairs if needed. During the warmer months, the A/C will produce condensation and that will leave water spots every time you stop. That “leak” will be on the right side at the front of the cab, clear water, normal.

Anything else new, dark oily spots under the engine need to be addressed. The engine isn’t the only thing that can leak oil. The power steering fluid is normally red in color but can look black on the ground, left side, from front bumper to the front of the cab along the frame. The transmission usually has an amber colored oil, again can look darker on the ground, look from the rear of the engine, the front of the cab, rearward about three feet, leaks should be addressed A.S.A.P... Transmissions don’t hold that much oil, so if there is a leak it may not take long to run it out of oil and that would be very bad (expensive).

Both differentials have oil, again, usually amber in color, and not very much of it. These are also expensive to repair so you don’t want to run one out of oil. Leaks can be at the drive shaft yolks or it can be a wheel seal that shares oil with the gears. Wheel seal leaks will leak oil onto the brake shoes or pads, reducing braking efficiency, get it fixed A.S.A.P... Wheel seal leaks can make a huge mess, as the oil oozes off of the brake components it starts slinging around the inside edge of the tire, coating the underside of a trailer or the back of the cab. The steer axle has wheel seals also and we wouldn’t want to lose a wheel bearing due to a seal leak, especially there.

Coolant now is red or a variation of red, not long ago it was green. If you see new spots of those colors investigate and repair A.S.A.P... Coolant can be found from the front bumper, across the front down the right rail frame to the back of the cab or anywhere under the engine. The funny thing about coolant is that it can and will travel away from the actual leak and drip somewhere else, sometimes very hard to find where the coolant is leaking from. If you see a leak on anything that is leaving spots, I believe it’s too big to put off till next service.

A quick walk around to do a truck inspection will make you aware of any other defects that may have occurred during your last drive session. Did that gator you straddled get hung under the rig? Now is the time to get rid of it. You should be able to see anything of that sort as you return to the truck. Look over the tires, the general condition of the truck and trailer and check locks or seals. If the windows need attention this is when I do it.


Sign up to get the latest trucking tips and tricks!