This year we have unseasonably high summer temperatures throughout the United States. Extreme heat can put vehicles at risk of experiencing breakdowns, tire issues, and mechanical failures – especially if the vehicle is not properly maintained. In a recent survey, AAA found that 4 out of 10 Americans are not prepared for emergency breakdowns. Granted, many of these are passenger vehicles, but preventative maintenance is equally important for truck drivers.
Because over 70% of America’s freight is transported on roadways, unmaintained trucks and trailers can put a huge burden on our constantly moving economy. A single breakdown could cause a chain of events that creates monetary and service issues for multiple parties involved. Proper vehicle maintenance is essential. Don’t get caught on the side of the road wishing you’d taken some preventative measures to keep your vehicle and freight moving.
Here are four major problems truckers could experience throughout the summer.
Cooling System Issues
Over time, the protective additives in coolant become depleted. To avoid engine overheating, ensure coolant is full, clean, and fresh. Additionally, most vehicle fluids lubricate and cool by carrying heat away from system components.
- Inspect radiator system, cap, hoses, and lines for corrosion
- Visually check water pump, belts, and possible leaks
- Maintain coolant levels and quality
- Top off fluid levels consistently
Reduced Tire Pressure
Summer heat can affect tire pressure, tread wear, and vehicle efficiency. In addition, correct inflation promotes traction and braking capabilities and reduces irregular and increased tread wear.
- Adjust tire inflation after tires have been parked 3+ hours
- Ensure valve caps are on each tire to avoid unnecessary deflation
- Check tread frequently for uneven wear and to prevent blowout
Wiring, cables, and batteries are at high risk of corrosion and breaking down when not properly maintained. In addition, not addressing tire pressure issues can cause additional vibration when in motion, potentially destabilizing the battery.
- Inspect wiring and cables for frays and corrosion
- Ensure battery is secure and terminals are not corroded
Note: When working with a battery box, there is always a risk of electrical shock.
Air Conditioner Efficiency
Although many maintenance procedures must be performed by a trained, certified professional there are some tasks you can complete yourself before taking your truck into the shop to ensure it’s in working order for the summer.
- Maintain air conditioner to ensure efficient in-cab cooling
- Check cabin filters
When the heat rises, you must turn your attention to vehicle maintenance.