There are lots of small “do it yourself” items that a lawn care business owner can do to extend the useful life expectancy of the truck that is called upon each and every day to perform. Here are some items that are easy, not expensive, and good training for new employees.
- Weekly Tire Pressure Check- have a designated crew member take a quality air pressure gauge and make sure that every tire on the truck is properly inflated to the truck manufacturer specifications placard. The placard sticker is typically found in the driver side door jamb, you can also look in the vehicle owner’s manual for the appropriate specification listing as well. Tire pressure is a safety item that should not be ignored by a business owner, there is just too much at stake when hauling a load through town or on the highway.
- Tire Condition check- routine visual inspection of truck tires is a good way to gauge how the systems are all working together on the truck. Make sure all tires look to be wearing in a uniform fashion. Make sure there are no visible gashes, steel belts showing, compromised sidewall area, visible wear in one particular area of a tire or tires, use a tread depth gauge and check for adequate tread depth (see regulations in your area). The Department of Transportation minimum safe tread depth for steer tires is listed at 4/32” and 2/32” for drive and trailer tires. You can see Section 393.75 at www.fmcsa.dot.gov for the complete regulation specifications.
- If pulling a trailer, inspect that the axle bearings of the trailer are properly greased. If your trailer is equipped with a “bearing buddy” style of cartridge make sure the cartridge is full of grease. This is done by inserting your grease gun tip onto the zerk/grease fitting and pumping grease into the cartridge until the spring loaded disc reaches it loaded position (the disc will move towards you as grease enters the cartridge. This will ensure that the bearings stay cool while rolling down the highway and help prevent the bearings from seizing/locking up. This is another safety issue that should not be neglected, it’s easy to check and can save you from costly trailer repairs from lack of maintenance.
- Perform a check of the engine oil level every morning before leaving to the first job; this simple item will pay dividends over the life of the truck. The benefit of checking the oil daily on a work truck is that you will be able to immediately notice if there is any change to the oil level and can check for visible leaks at that time; and will not be in a position of running the motor low on oil and causing catastrophic engine damage.
- Periodically check the condition of the serpentine belt that typically runs several accessories with a single belt; these accessories could include the water pump, power steering pump, alternator, a/c compressor, emissions pump (if applicable). Check the inner face of the belt and check the “ribs” for cracking or glazing. Check the edges of the belt for fraying, this could indicate rough edges on the accessory pulley(s) and they should be inspected. Remember, unlike the “old days” where a separate belt would turn a single accessory item, now it is more common to have a single “serpentine style” setup and if that single belt fails you could be stranded and lose out on the rest of the day’s jobs.
Take a few minutes a day to check safety items on your work truck; and you will enjoy a long service life out of your work truck as well as making sure you and your employees stay safe on the road.
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