Give Your Truck
the Good Life.
To keep your truck running right, you need to treat it right.
With routine checks, preventive maintenance and simple replacements, you can really help prolong your truck's life and performance. And don't rely on hearsay from other truck drivers regarding equipment and repairs. Always consult a trusted mechanic before acting on any friendly advice – it can save you time, expense and problems down the road. Here's more about treating your truck like the trusted business partner it's supposed to be:
Prevent Problems Now
Every truck purchased or leased from a reputable dealer should come with maintenance manuals. These are a vital accessory and should be kept in a safe place and be readily available. They contain valuable information on topics such as determining scheduled maintenance intervals, lubrication and fluid level checks, noise emission controls maintenance, and torque specification.
A preventive maintenance (PM) schedule should be based on the distance you drive, along with wear and tear on your truck. To determine the correct maintenance schedule for your vehicle you must first define the conditions you drive in and how you drive. If you run 80 mph you will have higher maintenance costs than if you run 65 mph. If you haul heavy loads through mountains, the wear and tear on your truck is obviously greater. Most maintenance manuals have a list of schedules from which you can identify the one that is best designed for your situation.
When conscientiously followed, the PM can anticipate, identify and solve potential problems that can harm your truck and business. Procedures can be as simple as checking the engine oil and tire air pressure frequently, or more sophisticated, such as using engine oil analysis to extend the drain intervals. Most owner-operators perform some maintenance activity. As you gain experience, you will become more capable of performing tasks yourself.
A simple plan that doesn't require technical skill and special equipment will include tires, engine oil, wipers, lights, filters, coolant and belts/hoses. A more technical PM will include brakes, drive axles, wheel seals, transmission, batteries, exhaust, driveline, suspension, steering, clutch and engine.
Every good PM schedule begins with establishing a maintenance escrow savings account. The industry standard for maintenance escrow savings is based on a time-proven formula, which is detailed in this chart:
Maintenance Escrow Savings Account
Maintenance Escrow Savings Account
|Age of Truck
||2 cents per mile
|1 year old
||3 cents per mile
|2 years old
||4 cents per mile
|3 years old
||5 cents per mile
|4 years old
||7 cents per mile
|5 years old or older
||10 cents per mile
Learn Maintenance Compliance
Your truck also has to comply with Department of Transportation (DOT) requirements. The DOT conducts roadside maintenance checks and requires annual inspections. There is a big difference between these two types of compliance. They are outlined in detail in the safety regulations manual that you are required to carry in your truck.
Know When to Trade Your Truck
If you only make repairs and do maintenance when a truck breaks down, or only trade a truck when it's beyond repair, then you aren't running your truck – it's running you. Basically, you should consider a replacement when the principal, interest, maintenance and operating costs of an old vehicle are higher than the comparable costs attached to a newer vehicle.
This is known as "life-cycle costing" and is based on a proven formula: As principal and interest payments on an older vehicle decrease, maintenance and operating costs usually increase. The increase in maintenance and operating costs is usually less than the decrease in principal and interest. The annual resale value is the tiebreaker, along with any manufacturer incentives.
The resale value of the old vehicle, coupled with the manufacturing incentive, may offset the higher cost of the newer vehicle's principal and interest. At this point a trade makes sense.
A calculation known as the Economic Breakeven Point (EBP) is used to determine whether you should seriously consider a trade-in. Your business services provider can help you figure your EBP, which involves drafting two budgets to show an approximation of savings one way or the other.
Learn more about and take an active role in your truck's maintenance. It will pay big dividends later. Here are just a few additional resources:
- "Recommended Maintenance Practices Manual" by The Maintenance Council of the ATA
- "Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations" by J.J. Keller & Associates, Inc.
- "Bridgestone, The Tire Topic Magazine" and "Real Answers Magazine"
- Visit www.trucktires.com and talk with your carrier maintenance manager.
- Freightliner Trucks Owner's and Maintenance Manuals
SelecTrucks Centers are also great sources of information about maintaining your specific medium- or heavy-duty truck. Give us a call and we'll be happy to share our first-hand knowledge and experience with you.