Is your truck ready for the conditions of summer? After the hard winter season, many truck fleets schedule their spring maintenance to ensure their fleet is up to par for the busiest trucking season—summer. With freight volumes on the increase, carriers need to keep equipment in excellent condition to meet the demands of shippers this year. With 3.4 million trucks on the road, truck upkeep is vital to the success of our economy—along with safe driving.
To help drivers prepare for summer driving, Wheelco has gathered some of our best practice tips for maintaining your truck and trailer before the heavy traffic months ahead.
Tip 1: Check Tire Pressure and Spares
Tire pressure is crucial to optimal driving conditions—not to mention safety. Ensuring tires are inflated to the proper manufacturer specifications should be performed consistently. Checking both truck and trailer tires is important, along with ensuring you properly inflate tires when refilling—watching the tire walls for leaks and debris within the shell and treads.
As truck drivers know, under or overinflated tires can explode in hotter conditions—or can cause premature wear and decreased fuel mileage. While refilling tires, take time to ensure spares are also filled to the correct pressure and rotate and balance your truck’s tires consistently for even tire wear.
Tip 2: Check Battery Life and Charge
After winter driving, it’s wise to check your battery, and wiring—as cold winter starts can cause wear and compromise components. Test your battery and replace if charging is consistently underperforming and failing to hold a charge. Be sure to check for corroded terminals and cracks in the case also. Having a fully charged, reliable battery is essential for powering your truck’s air conditioning in the summer months ahead.
Tip 3: Inspect or Replace Engine Belts
Another victim of winter wear can be engine belts, and they can often be overlooked during checkups. A simple inspection and replacement of belts can save you trouble down the road and prevent major engine failures and damage. Replacing belts and hoses—which can become blistered or brittle—at regular intervals can save thousands of dollars in damage and lost driving time. Belts and hoses over five years old should likely be replaced, even if they appear to be in good working order.
Tip 4: Inspect Fluid Levels
Maintaining fluid levels in your truck is essential to peak performance driving, in any season. Dirty and low fluids can lead to breakdowns and unsafe driving conditions if not properly inspected. Before busy summer driving months begin, it’s important to inspect all your truck’s fluids, in addition to refilling and refreshing them at regular intervals. Remember to inspect the following truck fluids:
- Engine oil
- Transmission fluid
- Brake fluid
- Coolant fluid
- Windshield wiper fluid
Tip 5: Inspect Windshield Wipers and Windows
Cracks in the windshield? Chips in your wiper blades? A small problem can easily lead to a larger issue and driving hazard. After harsh winter driving and freezing weather, it’s easier to spot damage done by the previous driving season. Inspect all your viewing areas for clear visibility, including your mirrors, windshield, wipers, and side windows.
Fill in cracks or chips to stop crack expansion. Replace wipers if needed to ensure your drivers are ready for summer rainstorms. Also, check headlight covers, tail lamps, and turn signals on both cabs and trailers for cracks or damage in coverings.
Tip 6: Lubricate Axles & Check Shocks and Struts
Rough roads are ahead in the summer! Potholes, construction zones, hot asphalt, uncertain road conditions, unpredictable weather, and more drivers on the road are all factors your truck drivers will face. To help with the bumps, check your shocks and struts to ensure a smoother ride and be aware of any wear and tear on suspension parts. Replace any components necessary and remember to lubricate axles to help. Also, wheel alignment after rough road driving can ensure you keep suspension and tire wear even over the lifespan of the truck.
Tip 7: Test Brakes & Inspect Brake Pads, Shoes, and Drums
Stop and remember to test your brakes. After winter storms and especially ice, a thorough inspection of the entire brake system is highly recommended. Check the most used components including lines, hoses, the parking brake, pads, shoes, and drums. As the brake pad wears with use, it’s important to replace pads and shoes before drums or rotors are damaged. Maintain your truck brakes with frequent testing and proper trailer loading, and ensure you’re updated on reduced stopping distance regulations.
Tip 8: Inspect Air Conditioner Elements
Summer means air conditioning time! Inspect your air conditioning elements, and look for leaks in your valves and hoses. Also, check your wiring and connections, along with replacing and refilling refrigerant. Engine coolant replacement will help your radiator, and inspection of the condenser will ensure air flow is properly performing. Find more helpful tips for maintaining your truck’s air conditioning system!
Tip 9: Review Your Emergency Kit
Have you checked your supplies lately? It’s usually in a poor situation that you find you’ve forgotten something—or didn’t replace needed items after the last use. Most kits include a standard first aid kit, along with the following: food, water, and cooking items; extra clothing; money; self-defense items; emergency radio and/or batteries, and tool set.
Commercial carriers are also responsive to have Department of Transportation-compliant emergency kits with fire extinguishers, vests, road reflectors, and flares with stands. Read more about DOT regulations for emergency equipment for commercial trucks.
Interested in servicing your truck at Wheelco to prepare for summer driving? Call us, stop into one of our multiple locations, or send us a note online. And check out our latest parts specials—or ask us for access to our online ordering option to browse our parts inventory.