Heavy-duty trucks are the backbone of any logistics business as they transport the goods, meet deadlines, and help to run the operations smoothly. However, like any other machinery neglecting their care can lead to costly breakdowns, safety hazards, and descending operational efficiency. If you are also one of the truck fleet owners, you may sometimes make such mistake of avoiding heavy-duty truck maintenance to save cost and effort.

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Nevertheless, according to statistics from the American Trucking Association, insufficient maintenance is directly responsible for more than 20% of all truck failures. Lost productivity and repair expenses amount to billions of dollars per year. According to a study from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in 2022, over 12% of all truck-related unfavorable incidents are caused by trucks that are not properly maintained.

Skipping off on regular maintenance is risky for more than just your wallet. Worn-out tires, faulty brakes, and unchecked fluid levels put drivers and other motorists at risk.

Therefore, we have compiled this blog to inform you of the dangers associated with neglecting the PM truck service. Here, we will discuss 7 common avoidable heavy-duty truck maintenance mistakes, explore their consequences, and provide tips to keep your fleet running smoothly and safely.

Common Mistakes That Can Be Easily Avoidable

Neglecting Regular Inspections and Maintenance

While putting off inspections and PM till the last minute could seem like a shortcut, it's riskier and might cost you more money. Lack of routine inspections speeds up the deterioration of worn components, leading to expensive repairs. In 2018, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) discovered that proactive PM truck service might prolong the life of equipment by half and save maintenance expenses by a quarter. If you want to prevent small problems from becoming big breakdowns, don't rely just on warning lights. Instead, contact a professional truck repair service and have them perform thorough inspections, such as the Level I and Level II inspections recommended by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Ignoring Fluid Checks and Changes

Engine oil, coolant, brake fluid, and other crucial fluids are the core of your trucks. Skipping their checks and changes leads to diminished lubrication, overheating, corrosion, and, ultimately, component failure. Contaminated fluids, as identified by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), can cause severe internal engine damage, leading to pricey overhauls. Remember, even a small leak can snowball into a major repair bill. Conduct regular fluid checks using calibrated dipsticks and refractometers for oil and adhere to manufacturer-recommended change intervals.

Delaying Repairs and Replacements

It may seem innocuous to put off resolving a little problem, but doing so is a false economy. A driver's safety is put at risk when even a little break in the glass may quickly obscure their view. According to the SAE International J1452 standard, vehicles with worn-out brake pads have a longer stopping distance, increasing the likelihood of accidents. Putting off fixing an issue until it worsens usually results in far more costly and severe harm. To detect any issues before they happen, use technologies like onboard diagnostics and engine failure code readers. While it may not be feasible for you to perform such things, a heavy-duty truck mechanic is handy for this type of maintenance. They are professionals with years of industry experience and help you keep your vehicle in sound condition.

Improper Tire Maintenance

Tires are the unacknowledged warriors of the trucking world, bearing the brunt of wear and tear. Uneven inflation, skipping alignment checks, and disregarding worn tread are all examples of poor tire care that may lead to serious problems. The NHTSA reports that underinflated tires are more likely to have uneven wear, a 3.3% increase in fuel consumption, and a 13% increased risk of blowouts. Aside from affecting handling and fuel economy by 6%, early wear is caused by poor alignment. And neglecting worn tread, with depth below the legal minimum (11/32nd inch for most truck tires), is simply playing with fire; bald tires decrease traction by 60%, significantly increasing the risk of accidents, especially in adverse weather conditions.

Overlooking Preventive Maintenance Schedules

Every truck has a manufacturer-recommended PM schedule for a reason. Ignoring these schedules is like running a marathon without training – setting yourself up for failure. Scheduled oil changes, filter replacements, HVAC system repairs, and thorough inspections ensure your trucks operate at peak performance and prevent avoidable breakdowns. Sticking to a PM schedule not only optimizes efficiency and minimizes downtime but also extends the life of your vehicles, ultimately saving you money in the long run. Invest in fleet management software or utilize detailed logbooks for each truck to track PM schedules and ensure adherence.

Neglecting Vehicle Cleaning and Corrosion Prevention

The severe conditions on the route do not elude trucks. The accumulation of grit, dust, and salt causes components to corrode and damage. A regular washdown keeps your fleet presentable and removes harmful contaminants that can eat away at paint, metal, and undercarriage components. Additionally, applying rust-inhibiting products protects vital areas from the relentless march of corrosion, extending the life of your trucks and potentially increasing their resale value. Consider undercarriage washes and apply corrosion-resistant coatings to vulnerable areas like chassis frames and brake lines.

Inadequate Record-Keeping and Documentation

Although it can be annoying, keeping detailed records of all inspections, repairs, and upkeep is very beneficial. Keeping meticulous records allows you to monitor maintenance cycles, detect difficulties that arise repeatedly, and identify possible problems before they worsen. When handling warranty or insurance claims, they are also useful. To avoid future hassles and wasted time, keep track of your trucks' maintenance records in an orderly fashion by investing in a fleet management system or keeping a separate logbook for each vehicle. You may consider using digital record-keeping with images and extensive notes for every service event.

Wrapping Up

Ignoring critical vehicle maintenance is like driving a perilous road while blindfolded. Avoidable errors lurk at every corner, endangering your safety, efficiency, and bottom line. But don't worry! You can avoid these dangers by prioritizing frequent inspections, implementing preventative measures, and maintaining accurate records. Invest in proactive truck maintenance, inform drivers, and watch your fleet sail easily toward profitability and safety.

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