Top 10 tips for summer driving for fleets
Maintenance checklist can reduce downtime for trucks
Now that the snow has melted and flowers are in bloom, it can only mean one thing: it’s time to get trucks ready for summer. Investing a few hours now can save days of downtime when the scorching temperatures of summer return.
Here is a summer prep checklist that will help prevent maintenance headaches in the months ahead:
1 Pressure Wash Exterior – There are dozens of nooks and crannies around the outside of a truck where dirt and debris can accumulate out of sight from the driver and out of reach from even a good truck wash. Left unattended, this little mess can turn into a big problem by shorting-out electrical circuits, corroding body panels or just developing a stink from mildew.
2 Clean Battery Box – Road spray from the winter can accumulate in some out-of-the-way spots on a truck, including the inside of the battery box. When this thin film of moisture and dirt settles on the top of the batteries, it can complete a circuit between the positive and negative terminals, which will slowly but surely drain the batteries, even when the truck is parked.
3 Test Electrical System – Today, truck batteries frequently are said to be “maintenance free.” In general, they are, but it pays to check up on them from time to time. Today’s truck cabs feature electrical/electronic accessories that can place extra demands on the batteries. A thorough electrical check, including a battery load test, will help to avoid a road-service call during the summer heat.
4 Adjust Clutch and Brakes – “Self-adjusting” is another concept that should be checked out from time to time. Many of today’s brake and clutch systems benefit from self-adjusting features. When summer begins to heat up, it’s a good time to make sure that the self-adjusting mechanisms work. Slush, sludge and corrosion from the winter months can accumulate under the truck, so a thorough cleaning, lube and inspection is in order before the temperatures rise.
5 Inspect Rubber Parts – Heat is the mortal enemy of many rubber-based parts, such as hoses and belts. The signs of wear due to heat exposure are a warning that real trouble is on the way. Be alert of cracks developing on the V belt, a worn radiator hose or tires that regularly lose air pressure.
6 Check Cooling System – Today’s engine coolants present a special problem if their “long life” promotion is taken too seriously. They do live longer than they used to, but they don’t live forever. A problem with an aging coolant can be the failure to inhibit the formation of rust in the radiator. It pays to have the rust protection checked before deciding to run the current coolant another year. Running without rust protection can lead to the cooling system’s failure.
7 Check Tire Pressure – Nothing contributes more to premature tire wear than heat when they operate with insufficient air pressure. The heat of summer can balloon the problem. Over-inflation is bad news, too, as it renders treads hard and subject to cuts and tears.
8 Check Windshield Wipers – Windshield wiper blades are put under extra stress while working against ice or snow in winter, and they might need to be replaced to wipe without streaking during the rainstorms of summer.
9 Clean Interior – Whether it is salt, mud, paper or just plain dirt, the inside of the truck cab can collect a mountain of debris during a winter. It’s up to the driver to give it a good spring-cleaning to make it a pleasant place to work.
10 Check Air Conditioning – It’s likely that the A/C system’s lower workload during the off-season has left some parts sticky or leaky from lack of use. Take some time now to ensure that drivers will “keep their cool” in the months ahead. BI