According to the National Safety Council, a total of 5,788 people died in large-truck crashes in 2021 – many of which were avoidable.
Don’t let one of your fleet trucks add to the statistics for this year. Keeping up to date with routine truck maintenance is one way to make sure your trucks and drivers are safe on the road. Another way is to keep a lookout for the tell-tale signs that it’s time to get things checked out by a professional before they escalate.
Read on for truck maintenance tips to help keep your service trucks, semi trucks, and entire fleet on the road, plus warning signs for when it’s time for professional fleet servicing.
Essential Service Truck Maintenance
Preventative work truck maintenance is the best way to avoid safety risks, costly repairs, and downtime. By following a regular maintenance schedule, you can catch problems early before they snowball and become more serious.
Stay on top of the truck maintenance tasks below and you’ll extend the lifespan of your service trucks:
Oil changes: Oil changes are one of the most important things you can do to keep your truck running smoothly. Oil helps to lubricate the engine and prevent wear and tear. Change your oil and filter every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, or more often if you drive in dusty or dirty conditions.
Tire rotations: Tire rotations help to evenly wear the tires and improve fuel efficiency. Rotate your tires every 6,000 to 8,000 miles. This will help to evenly wear the tires and improve fuel efficiency.
Brake inspections: Brake inspections are important for ensuring that your brakes are working properly and preventing accidents. Inspect your brakes every 10,000 miles or more often if you tow or drive in mountainous terrain. Check the brake pads for wear and tear, and make sure that the brakes are working properly.
Fluid checks: Fluid checks ensure that your engine, transmission, and other systems have the proper levels of fluids. Check the levels of all of the fluids in your truck, including the engine oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and coolant. Make sure that the fluid levels are within the specified range.
Filter replacements: Filter replacements help to keep your engine and other systems clean and running smoothly. Replace the air filter every 12,000 to 15,000 miles, and the fuel filter every 20,000 to 30,000 miles.
Keep in mind, these are general guidelines and it’s important to consult your truck owner’s manual and follow any specific maintenance recommendations for your make and model.
In addition to these essential truck maintenance tasks, be sure to have your work truck(s) serviced by a qualified technician at least once a year to prevent major repairs down the road.
Semi Truck Maintenance Tips
Semi-trucks are large, complex vehicles that can cost an arm and a leg to repair, which makes staying on top of routine maintenance even more important.
Because semi-trucks carry such heavy loads, their brake systems tend to wear out and require more frequent maintenance than other types of trucks. Regularly check your air brake system for any leaks, worn-out components, or signs of damage. Ensure the air pressure is within the recommended range.
Tire maintenance is also crucial when transporting heavy loads. Regularly inspect your semi-truck tires for wear, bulges, or cuts. Maintain proper tire pressure to improve fuel efficiency, prevent blowouts, and ensure optimal traction.
With semi-trucks, you also need to keep a close eye on your trailer connections. Check the fifth wheel and trailer connections to ensure they are secure and properly aligned. Inspect the kingpin, locking jaws, and slide mechanism to prevent trailer detachment during transit.
For more maintenance and repair tips specific to semi-trucks, check out our semi-truck repair and maintenance guide.
Managing Truck Fleet Maintenance
Staying on top of routine maintenance for one truck can be daunting, let alone an entire fleet. Below are a few simple tips to make managing your fleet maintenance easier:
- Create a maintenance schedule and stick to it. The schedule should follow manufacturer recommendations and outline the specific tasks that need to be performed on each truck, as well as the intervals at which they should be performed.
- Use a fleet management software program to track maintenance records and costs. By tracking costs, you can better manage your fleet maintenance budget and identify areas for potential savings.
- Delegate simple maintenance tasks to qualified employees and ensure they are properly trained to handle the job.
- Negotiate discounts with vendors to keep costs to a minimum. Many vendors offer discounts to fleets that purchase a large volume of parts or services.
- Stay up-to-date on the latest truck maintenance trends, technologies, and techniques.
5 Telltale Signs You Need Professional Truck Servicing
Another way to prevent accidents and costly repairs is to keep an eye out for warning signs and get them checked out by a professional straight away.
Here’s how to know if one of your trucks is trying to tell you something.
1. Truck Maintenance Warning Lights are Flashing
If your check engine light is flashing it could be something minor. It could also be a sign that deep trouble is on the horizon.
There is no way to know exactly what the problem is by popping the hood and checking out the engine. Take the warning seriously.
Get a professional truck maintenance servicing to give your truck a thorough diagnostic once over. This simple step could save you from costly repairs or even a serious accident.
2. Braking Issues
Any change in the braking action of your truck should be treated as an emergency.
The telltale signs that your brakes could be about to fail are as follows:
- Odd noises such as grinding, screeching or squeaking when you apply the brakes
- Any vibration when you press the brakes
- A feeling of squishiness when you push the brake pedal down
- Pulling to one side when braking
If you notice any of the above symptoms, get your truck’s brakes checked out by a reputable repair shop. Your truck’s brakes are all that’s stopping you from having a serious accident.
3. Poor Performance
Is your truck using excessive fuel to perform its daily tasks? Is it putting in a lackluster performance? Chances are your air filters or oxygen sensors are packing up or your fuel system is clogged with dirt.
Stop starving and suffocating your vehicle. Get the problem checked out to prevent further damage to your engine.
If your truck is battling to start up it is time for a battery check.
4. Engine Noises
Knocking sounds in the engine means things have already gone too far. Your bearings could be giving up the ghost.
After that comes engine failure, so drive straight to your truck maintenance professional to get it checked out.
5. Colored Exhaust Smoke
Excessive plumes of exhaust smoke are a health hazard – for you and your truck.
Blue smoke indicates an oil leak, while white means the cooling system is not up to scratch.
Gusts of black smoke are a sure sign that your truck is burning way too much gasoline.
All of the above can mean the end of your engine. Get it checked out before it’s too late.
Importance of Prompt Truck Repairs
Once you identify a potential problem with one of your trucks, don’t delay in handling the necessary repairs. If you do, the problem will only get more serious, complex, and costly.
Prompt truck repairs will help your business in the following ways:
- Prevent more costly damage to your truck
- Keep your truck running safely and efficiently
- Extend the lifespan of your truck
- Reduce downtime and keep your business running smoothly
- Help you avoid OHSA inspection violations
Truck Maintenance Recommendations, Servicing, and Repairs from PTC!
Here at PTC, we offer servicing on installed parts, collision repair, and the like. For routine truck maintenance, here are a few of our favorites:
Auto repair shop in Sherwood, Oregon
Address: 14085 SW Galbreath Dr, Sherwood, OR 97140
Phone: (503) 625-7447
Wallace Truck & Trailer Repair
Truck repair shop in Tualatin, Oregon
Address: 11085 SW Industrial Way # 4, Tualatin, OR 97062
Mark’s Quality Repair Services
Auto repair shop in Durham, Oregon
Address: 18211 SW Boones Ferry Rd, Tigard, OR 97224
The Long Haul
Besides protecting you from an accident, keeping your fleet in perfect working order can increase your ROI. This includes both internal and external upgrades.
If you’re looking for a reputable truck body shop, read this guide first to help you choose the best shop.
If you’re looking for truck repair or customization services, get in touch for advice on how to make your fleet the best it can be!