Benefits of preventative truck maintenance

Sticking with a consistent preventative maintenance programme will help to keep your truck running smoothly and safely, significantly reducing the possibility of breakdowns

Preventative truck maintenance is designed to help to get the most use out of a truck. Experts agree that a good maintenance programme can lower overall running costs and increase the lifespan of a vehicle.

It can also help to improve safety and reduce legal liability. If a vehicle is deemed to be unroadworthy because of a lack of repairs or maintenance, the owner can be held liable for any injury or damage that it
causes. Truck maintenance can also help to avoid expensive breakdowns – those that always seem to occur when they are least expected, or when you need your truck the most.

Regular oil changes and careful inspection of critical, visible components help to prevent the possibility of breakdowns and more expensive repairs later on. This is because small problems can be taken care of promptly, with worn or damaged parts – such as hoses or belts – replaced or repaired before they fail. Performing heavy truck repairs timeously prevents small issues from becoming big problems.

A preventative maintenance routine should include a daily inspection that focuses on:

• Keeping the cabin clean and the floor free of loose objects;

• The condition of seat belts, buckles and mechanisms;

• The proper functioning of instruments, defrosters, windscreen wipers and heaters;

• The condition of headlights, tail lights, brake lights, indicators, body lights and outside reflectors;

• Oil and fluid levels, including a visual check for obvious leaks from hoses and seals, or cracks or frayed edges on drive belts;

• The state of tyres, including a pressure check of each tyre;

• A check of emergency equipment.

The actual maintenance portion of a preventative maintenance programme is composed of scheduled and standardised inspections and services, commonly known as A, B, C or D services. As you move down the alphabet, the nature of the service increases in complexity, and the time required to carry it out extends accordingly.

Basic A services are also known as maintenance checks or safety inspections and generally consist of checks of components such as those that would be carried out on a daily basis – inspection of oil and fluid levels, brakes, lights and tyres. Usually, they will include adjustment of high-wearing mechanisms or components. Typically, these services are scheduled at half of the oil change interval of the vehicle.

Preventative maintenance B services usually include all of A’s items, but extend to action regarding trouble codes or problems reported by the vehicle’s on-board management system, oil and filter changes as well as more in-depth checks of the engine and driveline.

Preventative maintenance C services call for both A and B schedules, as well and more extensive service applications in terms of wheel alignment, scheduled component replacement and other scheduled engine and driveline component inspections or replacement of parts. Usually, C services happen annually. To make sure they are carried out timeously, it is not unusual for big carrier companies to schedule them at 10- or 11-month intervals.

D services usually involve the rebuild or replacement of major components – including engine, transmission, differentials or axles – or special upgrades. Scheduling of D services tends to vary, depending on the nature of the item to be replaced, rebuilt or upgraded.

To keep trailers in optimal condition, it’s important to introduce preventative maintenance services for them, too. Like trucks, daily visual checks should include careful inspection of tail lights, brake lights, indicators, body lights and reflectors, couplings, electrical and hydraulic connections and hoses, brake lines, the state of tyres and their pressures, as well as a check of safety equipment, tarpaulins and tie downs.

T1 or TA services are usually scheduled every three months and incorporate careful inspection and lubrication of components, as well as a check of lights, tyres, brakes, coupling devices, safety equipment and any other systems that the trailer may incorporate – a refrigeration unit, for instance, or sliding axles.

T2 or TB services occur every six months and include all the items checked during a T1 inspection, as well as additional maintenance – re-greasing of wheel bearings or suspension components, or the retorquing of lugs.

T3 or TC services are usually scheduled annually. These include all the inspection and maintenance procedures included in T1 and T2 services, along with more extensive maintenance tasks such as wheel alignment or a complete overhaul of the brake system.

By following these guidelines, experts say that in the long term truck owners will benefit from increased vehicle uptime, lower running costs and more

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Focus on Transport

FOCUS on Transport and Logistics is one of the oldest and most respected transport and logistics publications in southern Africa.
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