Maintaining trucks part by part

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As trucks are used over time in delivering cargoes, they inevitably wear out. It is important, therefore, to keep them in top condition, from interior to exterior.

American trucking sales and service provider Empire Truck & Trailer shared several tips in maintaining trucks on its Web site.

In maintaining brakes, it is recommended to establish a plan to combat brake wear and failure, which is a common cause of accidents. Brake parts should be replaced on a regular basis. Brake shoe indicators will give a clue if they should be replaced.

Lubrication should also be maintained in trucks to avoid premature wear and costly breakdowns. Checking for leaks and slop in drivetrain parts should be routinely done. It is also advised to lubricate all applicable parts and fittings before each haul.

One must also change the oil regularly since fresh oil prevents the truck’s engine from wearing down prematurely. “Oil undergoes a thermal breakdown over time. As it fails, engine friction increases, raising the chances of total engine failure or a very expensive trip to a repair shop,” the article explained.

Most manufacturers recommend changing oil every 5,000 to 7,000 miles (mi), but it actually depends on the vehicle. Refer to the truck’s manual to find out how often it should get an oil change.

Engine belts should also be taken into consideration since they drive multiple peripheral devices in the truck’s engine. Lest these rubber belts break down while the truck is in motion, they should be checked every 25,000 mi and replacing them around 50,000 mi. Small cracks in the belt might indicate that they should be replaced.

Fuel and storage tanks should be inspected for any contamination, since contaminants and moisture in tanks can hinder the fuel from flowing.

The coolant system should be kept clean by replacing damaged or corroded components and using the right type of fluid. Since improperly maintained coolants cause premature engine failures, “it’s important to understand coolant types and adhere to the manufacturers’ requirements.”

To avoid corrosion in the truck’s body, the owner/driver should deal with paint chips immediately, wash the truck every 10 days (and immediately after a rain), spray door locks with a lubricant, and avoid driving through large puddles on roads and in parking lots.

Tires, meanwhile, should be inflated to the right levels. “Underinflated tires are a drag on fuel efficiency, and overinflated tires are a safety risk because they are more prone to blowouts or premature tread wear,” the article explained. One will also risk wasting fuel if the tire is not properly inflated.

Moreover, conducting tests and maintenance checks are vital. These include periodic compression tests, monitoring engine coolant and exhaust temperature, surveying oil and boost pressures, and checking under-the-hood rubber parts and wheel alignment.

Since maintenance involves replacing parts, it helps to stockpile parts lest replacements are not available in the market depending on the truck model. It is also advised to buy parts with lifetime warranties, which include brake pads, alternators, starters, and oil seals. — Adrian Paul B. Conoza