In our recent article on the importance of preventative maintenance, we examined why preventative maintenance is so crucial to the success of your fleet operations. Today we will take a look at specific vehicle components, and how you should carry out preventative maintenance on said components.
Big rig trucks are complex pieces of equipment, filled to the brim with various moving parts and interlocking pieces of equipment. If you don’t know how to properly check this equipment and various parts, you may be looking at potential danger, or even an accident. The last thing you want is a potential violation because you weren’t properly checking your vehicles components. Let’s start with one of the most important of said components, the brakes.
You don’t need us to tell you, but the braking system is one of your key safety systems. If you encounter a sudden loss of brake pressure, you could be looking at a serious loss of control and an inability to recover from it.
You must always be on the lookout for progressive brake wear and deterioration. Progressive brake wear is especially troublesome because it appears harmless during normal driving. One example of progressive brake wear could be brake shoe deterioration without a corresponding adjustment.
Problems like these rarely show themselves during the course of regular use, but can cause serious problems in the case of an emergency. In order to make sure your brakes are performing up to standard, keep the following in mind before you head out onto the highway:
- Make sure to test your brakes for stopping performance.
- Check your brake adjustment.
- Learn how to determine if your brake’s air system is functioning properly, and check it.
- Check to make sure low air warning devices are working properly.
- While traveling, if you reach a severe downgrade, make a habit of stopping to check your brake adjustment.
One of your most important maintenance tasks is ensuring your brakes are adjusted properly. One of the easiest things to do to keep your brakes functioning well is to check their slack adjusters. Some vehicles have automatic slack adjusters and some have manual.
If during the course of running your route you do a lot of mountain driving, testing slack adjustment becomes especially important. When adjusting, remember that each brake should be adjusted to the same degree so they each perform the same amount of work when bringing the vehicle to a complete stop.
The best way to make sure you get the most out of your tires is to watch your load weight. It is imperative you know the load rating of your tires and that it matches the load weight of your vehicle/load. Not only is driving overloaded illegal, it puts a great amount of strain on your tires. Remember, blowouts don’t just represent safety issues, but they could cause potential accidents or delays.
Ensuring your tires are inflated properly should be the first step in your tire preventative maintenance toolkit. Always make sure to check the tires when they are cold, but don’t be afraid to check them during your trip, as well.
The heat generated by an underinflated tire can not only reduce the life of your tire’s read, but it could also cause the tire to physically separate from the tire body, causing significant breaks in the tire cords.
And while it’s easy to single out under-inflation, over-inflation can be a problem, as well. Overinflated tires do not absorb road shocks very well and have a greater chance of being punctured or suffering other tire-damaging problems.
Overinflated tires may also have traction problems. When the tire has too much air, tread is not making proper contact with the road and traction is reduced.
In the end, always remember that two of the most important pieces of equipment on your truck are those which govern your safety the most: the tires and brakes. So don’t take them for granted. And please join us here in our next installment of preventative maintenance where we take a look at what you need to do in order to keep both your clutch and engine in good shape.