June 20, 2022
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Regular maintenance on semi trucks can vary depending on the types of freight they’re hauling and the distance they regularly travel on a route. In general, a semi truck should have basic service every 15,000 miles. Basic service should include checking all lights, checking brake functionality, and refilling any fluids (coolant, antifreeze, transmission fluid, etc).
Every 30,000 miles, each semi truck should undergo a thorough inspection and service. This should include changing the oil, oil filters, air filters, and fuel filters. The 30,000 mile service is also a good opportunity to perform any minor repairs.
Once per year, regardless of mileage, semi trucks should have their engines evaluated to make sure they are safe to drive and require no repair or replacement.
It’s a good idea to schedule service on a truck any time a warning light comes on or any time a driver reports any issues. Use maintenance downtime to keep any small problems from becoming big issues. This means inspecting hoses, checking for fluid leaks, running checks on the electrical system, inspecting the braking system, testing the cooling system, and looking for evidence of corrosion during regular tune-ups. The additional costs of checking these areas for potential problems is nothing compared to having to tow a big rig 100 miles to the nearest truck service mechanic if it suffers a breakdown on the road.
Just like with regular cars, commercial vehicles can have complex maintenance schedules. Check your owner’s manual for the recommendations for your specific truck or trucks, and create a fleet maintenance schedule for all of your vehicles. There are some general guidelines you can use to estimate your annual costs for maintenance tasks for normal to heavy-duty semi trucks.
The annual maintenance cost of a semi truck is about $15,000. But it can vary depending on the types of loads you haul and how long your average route is. Short-haul trucks often have higher maintenance costs than long-haul trucks, for example. And big rigs that routinely haul 80,000 pounds will likely need service more often than medium-duty trucks that haul half that weight in freight.
Routine maintenance is a predictable cost, and it is far cheaper than emergency roadside service or emergency repairs. Even something small like fluid leakage can result in expensive repairs if not resolved quickly. By adhering to a regular maintenance plan, you can reduce downtime, lower your operating costs, lower your costs per mile, and make your business more profitable. So make sure to create and follow a preventive maintenance program for your fleet.
It’s important to train your truck drivers to know the signs of a semi truck needing an oil change outside of the routine maintenance schedule. You can create a truck maintenance checklist for drivers to use to inspect and report any potential truck maintenance issues to your fleet maintenance manager.
Drivers should perform pre-trip inspections that include checking the oil, tire pressure, fluid levels, and wiper blades. If the engine oil stick shows a low oil level or if the oil sensors indicate low oil, the truck should be sent for maintenance rather than driven on a route. Drivers must examine the appearance of the oil to make sure it’s not thick and sludge-like. Oil that is too thick can cause as many serious engine problems as low oil levels.
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