Owning a tractor-trailer can be both rewarding and lucrative for truckload carriers, but, as with any vehicle, there is maintenance involved. Tractor-trailers don’t get called on to make ‘round the corner grocery runs — when these trucks hit the road, it’s for the long haul and through whatever conditions are in the way.
For many drivers, maintenance isn’t an issue because the truck they are piloting belongs to a corporate entity. Leaving the maintenance and fuel tab for someone else to pick up is less stressful than ownership, but the rewards are fewer, too. If you’ve made the jump to operating your own equipment, then you need to know a few things about how to maintain these road beasts.
Truckload Carriers: 6 Tips for Tractor-Trailer Maintenance
Check your Oil
It sounds simple, right? Even if you’ve never owned anything more burly than a Honda Civic, you know a motor needs fresh oil every now-and-again. The issue with tractor-trailers is all the mileage they do. Most of these trucks are diesel-powered and produce the kind of torque that can do a serious number on engine internals. This is why keeping close tabs on your oil’s condition is so crucial for truckload carriers.
Check Tire Pressure Weekly
Once a week is a good rule for making sure all the rubber on your truck is in peak operating condition. Pay attention to both the inboard and outboard wheels on every axle.
Changes in temperature can have major effects on your tires, causing them to over or under-inflate. Driving an eighteen-wheeler with a tire that isn’t properly aired can cause the truck to wander, which is dangerous for you and other motorists.
Monitor Your Airbrake System
Your daily driver probably has hydraulic disc brakes, but the system on your tractor-trailer is much more complex and powerful to stop such a heavy load.
It’s important that your truck’s compressor be in good working order before all trips. Otherwise, you won’t be able to charge the airbrake. Brake lines that run from the cabin back to the axles should be checked as well, along with all brake componentry on the trailer itself.
Get Your Regular Services in
Maybe you’re an avid wrench and want to do the work yourself. It’s no small task, but your truck needs some regular TLC that passenger vehicles don’t. The standard types of service are broken down as A, B, and C type.
An A service involves the connecting hardware to your trailer, while the B service covers all your typical fluids like engine oil, air filters, brake drum servicing and tires. What’s a C service? That is the federal inspection your truck is required to pass for the government to deem it roadworthy.
Fuel Vent Fun
So, you’ve had a few days off, and your truck hasn’t moved. Hope you enjoyed the break, but be sure to check your truck’s fuel vent before you jump back into the cabin. Insects such as wasps and other nest-building creatures can get inside the vent, causing the truck to behave like it’s out of fuel.
Keep It Clean
Your truck’s cabin is your home-away-from-home, and, even if you think it’s not hurting anyone to let it degrade, you’ll be forcing yourself into a poor living situation and devaluing your truck along the way. When you reach a rest stop, remove any trash, take advantage of the vacuum and wipe down your interior. You’ll feel better when you hit the road the next day if you can start your ride in a fresh, clean truck.
Living the Dream
While driving tractor-trailers isn’t for everyone, it can be an exceptional way to see the country and make some money at the same time. If you’re working for yourself, you also have a good amount of say in what your schedule is like. Just make sure to put the time in to keep your truck running and clean — it will pay you back in the end.