Preventive Maintenance Maximizes Uptime in Winter

  • While truck drivers and fleet managers should always follow a pre-determined preventive maintenance schedule for a semi-trucks/trailers, it’s even more important in the winter months, which can wreak havoc on tractor and trailer components. Read the owners manual, and always follow its recommendations on service schedules. Unless you are a trained diesel or trailer technician, leave major service to a professional.

    That being said, you can prepare your semi-truck/trailer for cold weather operation. The old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” certainly applies during winter months.

    Here are some ways you can maximize your semi-truck/trailer’s uptime this winter:

    1. Start where the rubber meets the road. Checking your tires must be done before every trip. Always thoroughly inspect your tires after either you or your driver/operator reports an incident involving a heavy duty pothole, obstruction in the road or road debris, which can be very common in winter months 
    2. Check the tire pressure to make sure it’s what is recommended by the manufacturer. Tire pressure drops with the ambient temperature, as much as 10 psi for every 20 degree drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Under inflated tires will cost you money in terms fuel economy, while over-inflated tires can be prone to damage from potholes or road debris. Check tire pressure each time you refuel.
    3. Inspect the tires for tread depth, damage across the tread and/or damage to the sidewall. And don’t forget to do all of the above with the spare. You never know when you may need it.
    4. Always check the ABS Brake System to make sure it’s functioning before you hit the road. This is even more important in winter when road debris can fly up into the undercarriage and cold temperatures can adversely impact hoses and couplings. Make sure your air dryer is in working order. It protects the system by collecting and removing contaminants that can freeze in your lines in cold weather and make the brake inoperable. The air reservoir should be drained of water and contamination regularly. Inspect the glad-hand seals and hoses for cracks, missing sections, chaffing or damage. You need to make sure that the hoses and/or tubing are not rubbing against any portion of the trailer as well. Now inspect the brakes for cracked drums, bent chambers or push rods. Make sure nothing is loose or broken.
    5. Inspect all slider components and lube rails. Check the locking pins for wear or distortion. While your down there, check components for wear, damage or broken welds and effect repairs where applicable. The same holds true for the cross members, body frame and floor of the trailer.
    6. Inspect the dolly legs and check for damage and proper operation. Make sure all components are properly lubed according to your owner’s manual. Remember: lubrication requirements can change with low temperature operating conditions.
    7. Now inspect all wiring and trailer lights for solid connections as well as damage to wires. Also check the seven-way plug. Check illumination. If you have dim lights, clean them. If that doesn’t work, re-check the wiring and harnesses.
    8. Winter is also a great time to check your safety equipment such as road triangles, road flares and reflective tape. You should also make sure the fire extinguisher is operational.

    Following these few simple steps can go a long way towards maximizing your productivity and vehicle uptime this winter. It also pays to have a professional service partner that can perform inspections and all necessary preventive maintenance, including scheduled maintenance for the tractor, its engine, oil and cooling system.

    Transport Services maintains a complete semi-trailer and commercial truck service facility that’s equipped to handle any service or repair work necessary. It’s also recognized as an authorized warranty repair center for a wide variety of brands including Trailmobile, Wabash National, Fruehauf, Hyundai Translead, Manac and more.

    If you’d like more information on preventive maintenance for semi-trucks/trailers, contact Transport Services at 800-589-4231. You can also reach their service department after hours at 440-537-3418 or visit their Contact page.