Tips to make sure you get the most service life out of your lawn care truck.
The lawn care truck is a vital component of your lawn care business; without a reliable truck working for your business you could be missing out on profitable jobs in your community. A good way to remain profitable in such a competitive industry is to make sure your truck fleet is safe and always ready to go to work day in and day out. The question you can ask yourself is “Am I proactive about taking care of my company truck fleet?”
In this era of dwindling profit margins for businesses, there are a couple things that can set you apart from your competition; your ability to remain a reliable business that is there when called upon and your reputation with your customers and employees alike. A reliable truck fleet is of value to these key areas. When trucks are running efficiently, your customers gain trust that you will be on the job and your employees will have more job satisfaction knowing you are setting them up to succeed by providing reliable equipment for their use.
Here are some items to keep in mind as you setup a maintenance schedule program for your company truck fleet. Consult with your certified truck mechanic to discuss your particular truck(s) maintenance schedule.
- Adhere to a consistent schedule for changing the engine oil and oil filter(s) for your truck to maximize engine life. Refer to your specific truck manufacturer recommendations as a starting point.
- Schedule regular intervals for replacing the fuel filter(s) for each truck. This item will be done more frequently for those business owners running diesel engines in their fleet and will typically involve a water separation filter(s) as part of normal service.
- A typically neglected item to be serviced appropriately is your transmission; even the best cared for engine won’t get you to the job if the transmission can’t do its job. So, give your transmission its best possible service life by having it serviced at the appropriate interval recommended by the manufacturer.
- Have the differential(s) gear lube replaced at the manufacturers recommended interval as stated in your owner’s manual for (normal/severe) operating conditions. The differential(s) operate in a hostile environment where fluid breakdown can cause catastrophic results. The required repairs can be far more expensive if the fluid is neglected than the cost to maintain the differential(s) by normal service.
- Keep a clean air filter in the truck to insure maximum operating efficiency for your engine. This filter will aid fuel mileage and keep unwanted debris from entering the intake tract of your engine.
- Perform periodic visual inspections of the radiator to verify it is free of debris that can reduce cooling performance and could lead to the truck overheating at an inopportune time and leave the truck stranded or worse possibly warping the cylinder head(s). Both of these scenarios can be expensive to repair. A little time spent inspecting the cooling system can save money in the long run.
- Schedule a periodic check of the engine coolant level to verify there are no subtle leaks in the system that could potentially lead to an engine overheating situation.
- Periodic check of the accessory drive belt(s) for cracking or damage should be performed as well as any belt tensioners or pulleys for wear or damage. Exterior engine components rely on the belt(s) to perform their function such as the water pump, A/C compressor, power steering pump (in most cases), and alternator.
- Steering components should be checked for any damage or excessive wear; this will prevent premature tire wear and unsafe steering conditions on the road.
- Cargo areas or storage boxes should have all fasteners visually inspected at pre-determined intervals for any damage. Cargo box u-bolts that attach to the frame rails should be inspected for tightness of the fasteners. Shifting loads in cargo areas can put great stress on these items and may cause them to loosen over time.
- Visually inspect the battery(s) and battery cables for any signs of damage or corrosion on the terminals that could affect proper operation of the starting/charging systems.
- Periodic inspection of braking components and brake fluid should be performed as repaired as necessary to maintain a safe commercial vehicle on the road.
- Pay attention to “check engine” indicator lamps when they appear, do not dismiss them as a nuisance, that indicator may just keep you from damaging your truck and requiring more extensive repairs if ignored.
Proper maintenance and inspection of your truck(s) can save you time and money over the life of the truck(s) and help insure that your business keeps running smooth with less downtime and less expense due to major repair bills.
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