These simple items can extend the useful life expectancy of your truck. They are easy, not expensive and good reminders for anyone driving a truck. Trucks see more use and abuse than a regular vehicle, keeping them in top shape will pay dividends in the long run.
- 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, with trucks carrying ever increasing loads; the tires must be in good condition to help lower the chance of an incident on the road.
- Tire Condition check- routine visual inspection of truck tires is a good way to gauge how the steering and suspension 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.
- Air filter check- The engine air filter is an item that should be checked regularly to ensure that fresh air is getting to the engine for efficient operation. If the air filter is clogged with dirt, grass, or other debris this may result in poor engine performance and decreased fuel mileage. If you keep the air entering your engine clean, you should be able to keep the truck engine performing efficiently and keep fuel mileage at an acceptable level while minimizing the chance of debris entering the engine and accelerating wear of internal components.
- Engine Coolant check- Take time to make sure your truck has the appropriate amount of coolant/antifreeze in the radiator & coolant reservoir tank. There are many manufacturers of engine coolant and you should be familiar with the coolant required for your truck. There is the common “green” coolant that is acceptable for many vehicles on the road. If you have a newer truck, there may be a special certified coolant required; for example “dex-cool” used in GM vehicles that is a long-life coolant designed to work with the types of metals and o-ring seals used in GM vehicles. If you have a foreign made truck, there are special formulations required by those manufacturers too. Please be aware that using the proper coolant will ensure you will keep corrosion of your cooling system to a minimum and prevent unwanted cooling system damage. It’s always a good idea to keep a gallon of coolant on the truck as preventative measure. Please refer to your owner’s manual for coolant specifications. ONLY CHECK THE COOLANT LEVEL OR ADD COOLANT TO THE RADIATOR WHEN THE ENGINE IS COLD, FAILURE TO DO SO CAN RESULT IN BODILY INJURY. THE COOLING SYSTEM IS UNDER PRESSURE AND SHOULD NEVER BE OPENED UNLESS THE ENGINE IS COLD.
- Transmission Fluid/Lube check- Refer to your owner’s manual or online for the fluid checking and service procedure of your particular truck. Give your transmission its best possible service life by having it serviced at the appropriate interval recommended by the manufacturer with the appropriate gear lube(if manually shifted) and ATF fluid and filter if the transmission is an automatic.
- Engine Oil check- 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. You will keep from running the motor low on oil and causing catastrophic engine damage if you are checking the level regularly.
- Accessory Belt check-Periodically check the condition of the serpentine belt or V-belts(for older vehicles) 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(s) and check the “ribs” or inner belt surface 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 by your qualified mechanic of choice.
- Brake Fluid check- Glycol-ether brake fluids such as DOT 3, DOT 4 DOT 5.1 are “hygroscopic” which means they absorb moisture from the atmosphere under normal humidity levels. This moisture affects the fluid condition and should be checked periodically to make sure the brake system isn’t being compromised from corrosion due to moisture in the system.
- Power Steering fluid check- Check the fluid level on the dipstick for appropriate fluid level, most trucks have a “cold” or “hot” designated on the dipstick according to if the level is checked while the fluid is cold or checked when the fluid is hot and has expanded at running temperature. Make sure the fluid is in the specified range on the dipstick.
Checking vital items on your truck such as air filter, engine coolant, engine oil level, transmission fluid level, brake fluid level, power steering fluid level, along with the other basic safety checks such as serpentine belt /V-Belt condition, tire condition and air pressure in each tire can go a long way towards keeping the truck in a safe mechanical condition on the road. If you are diligent about maintaining your truck; you decrease the chance of experiencing an expensive/catastrophic mechanical failure that can hamper your ability to provide your specific service to your customers. The mechanical longevity of your truck will be extended if regular, consistent maintenance is performed.
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