Falling fuel prices continue to be a hot topic in the transportation industry.  National diesel prices continue their downward trend across the United States. The US Department of Energy puts the average price of a gallon of on highway diesel at around $2.2/gallon, which is some of the lowest numbers since mid-2009. The expectation is that crude oil prices will remain low.

on highway diesel fuel prices - blog 03.03.16

Saving money on fuel is a great time to apply these savings to your maintenance schedule. Maintaining your truck keeps operating costs down, and will keep you and others safe on the road.

Basic daily procedures should be performed at the start of every trip. They include checking tires, lights, turn signals, and hazard flashers to ensure all in good working order. It is also key to pay attention to basic warning signs and unusual noises. Over and above these daily checks, a routine maintenance schedule should be kept in place.

What constitutes “routine maintenance”?

Regular preventative maintenance is the best way to reduce operating costs – sudden mechanical breakdowns are often expensive and can, in most cases, be avoided by routine truck and trailer maintenance. Performing regular preventative maintenance inspections can be based on time or mileage. Check the vehicle’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendations on maintenance. Pay special attention to items such as:

  • Tires – Regularly examine every tire to make sure it is properly inflated and meets DOT requirements for tread depth. Tire pressure changes when temperatures drop, reducing fuel economy and creating a greater risk of tire failure at high speeds. Underinflated tires can also affect weight distribution, which in turn can cause problems with the framework, alignment, traction, steering and braking.
  • Brakes – Test for stopping performance, adjustment, and air system performance.
  • Steering System – Check for excessive wheel play, which indicates system deterioration.
  • Battery – Check your battery’s age before cold & and hot weather seasons arrive. Make sure the battery is properly secured and that the connections are tight, to prevent malfunctions. In general, drivers should look at replacing their batteries if its life has exceeded 72 months.
  • Mirrors and lights – Examine to make sure they are operable and clean too allow for clear visibility.

It’s what on the inside that counts too

The inside of the trailer also requires routine maintenance and inspection. Pay special attention to the following:

  • Temperature control unit and temperature monitoring devices – must be calibrated and accurate.
  • Refrigeration air delivery chutes – attached properly and free of rips, tears, or any other damages that may affect air circulation.
  • Trailer’s insulation through walls, ceiling, doors, and floors – the trailer must be airtight!
  • Floor grooves and drains – must be free of debris, cracks, and holes.

Routine preventative maintenance helps to ensure success upon deliveries, and reduces a carrier’s exposure to claims and/or additional charges. So take care of your truck, trailer, and yourself – inside and out!!!

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