by Pride Transport | Jul 21, 2021
The Ultimate Semi Truck Maintenance Checklist
There are many things we’re “supposed” to do in order to maintain our homes, our appliances, and even ourselves. We’re supposed to wash our sheets every week, we’re supposed to clean our air filters every few months, and we’re supposed to eat healthy. Some of these things are easier to do than others. Yet they’re all important in order to keep you safe and healthy.
Just as you need to attend to some errands, like getting an oil change for your car, your truck also needs dedicated care and attention. Semi trucks go through a serious amount of wear and tear. Driving across the country requires preventative maintenance in order to keep your vehicle running smoothly and safely.
While timeframes for many tune-ups vary, it’s important to keep on top of maintenance. Luckily for Pride drivers, we have a skilled team of technicians that take care of all truck maintenance, however, we rely on our driving fleet to do their pre/post trip inspections in order to help our techs maintain the equipment to the company’s high standards. It’s very helpful to have a maintenance checklist in order to ensure your semi truck is in tip top shape.
Discover our recommended semi truck maintenance checklist below for all the essential annual, bi-annual, and monthly upkeep it takes to keep your truck safe on the road.
Why Maintaining Your Truck Is Important
There are numerous reasons why staying up-to-date on your semi truck’s maintenance schedule is important. Failing to do so can lead to accidents, safety issues, unexpected costs, and long term damage to a vehicle. If you don’t service your truck regularly, this also makes it much more difficult to spot potential problems and fix them before they become bigger issues.
For example, if you don’t keep an eye on your tire pressure, driving with under-inflated tires can shorten the life of your tires but more seriously, can cause tires to overheat and lead to an accident. In fact, according to the US Department of Transportation, there are more than 500,000 truck accidents a year.
This is why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandates that all trucks have a preventative maintenance schedule in place and that all truck parts be in “safe and proper operating condition at all times.”
They’ve also outlined their own commercial truck maintenance checklist which we’ll dive into shortly. So yes, legally speaking, maintaining your truck is important to avoid being held negligent in potential truck accidents and issues.
Regular semi truck maintenance also helps extend the lifespan of your truck and maximizes fleet availability. And while this is all integral for saving money and unplanned malfunctions, regular and preventive truck maintenance can and quite possibly, save your life.
Your Semi Truck Maintenance Checklist
Most trucks have recommended maintenance practices from their manufacturer. Companies and drivers should acquire these which break down what should be checked and when. You’ll also be subject to the FMCSA regulations and should keep a log from the past 12 months with all information about your truck’s maintenance.
Let’s look at both pre-trip requirements, regular, and preventative maintenance best practices to get you on the road safely and efficiently.
Pre-Trip Semi Truck Checklist
(aka PM ((preventive maintenance)) that drivers are responsible for)
- Brakes: arguably one of the most important parts of any vehicle. Brakes keep you safe and it’s vital that both the parking and standard brakes are checked visually and mechanically for any leaks in the air pressure system, that the proper amount of lining remains, that parking brakes turn on automatically, and that any low pressure alarms are working correctly.
- Tires: a damaged or under-inflated tire is one of the biggest safety hazards for truck driver’s. Each tire should be carefully inspected for any noticeable issues or debris, next their tread and air pressure should also be checked. Since tires account for about one-third of a truck’s total maintenance cost, it’s important this check is done thoroughly.
- Fluids: all truck fluids should be regularly checked for the proper amount and for any signs of leakage. This includes the coolant, oil, fuel, and antifreeze. Before a driver hits the road or a truck is sent out, it’s important to look around the vehicle and in the undercarriage for any fluid leakage from the truck.
- Electrical: all truck wiring and electrical systems should be thoroughly checked to assure there are no loose or worn wires and that everything is working properly. These include all truck lights such as: headlights, warning lights, turn signals, clearance lights, and brake lights.
Preventative Semi Truck Maintenance
A total preventative maintenance program should include a thorough inspection of all aspects of a semi truck. In addition to the above, this includes regularly looking at:
- Engine oil and filter changes
- Transmission fluid levels
- Windshield wipers
- Seat belt and seats
- Wheels and rims
- Rear vision mirrors
- Engine and transmission mounts
- Air filters
- Steering and suspension system
- GPS system and radios
- Undercarriage and truck exterior
- Belts and hoses
- Auxiliary system
- Drive shafts or CV joints
- Belts and hoses
- All windows and glass
- Coupling device
- Side mirrors
Seasonal Semi Truck Maintenance
Twice a year, during the summer and winter when the weather is at its most extreme points, be sure to check a commercial truck's heating and cooling system, plus any parts that will most likely be impacted by harsh weather conditions and changes. These include:
- Radiator: inspect the cap for damage. Next, check for any corrosion and ensure the coolant is clean.
- Coolant Pressure: assess the pressure of coolant systems every year.
- Air Conditioning: check cooling coils for any debris build-up or damage and clean.
- Belts & Hoses: inspect radiator and heater hoses and lines for any leaks, hardness, or damage. Make sure to replace hoses every one to two years.
- Water Pump: inspect for any leaks and debris.
- Tire Pressure: check daily.
- Battery: check to ensure battery cables are properly connected and battery is clean and free from any corrosion.
- Windshield: regularly check if wipers need replaced and that washer reservoirs are at their proper levels.
- Heater and Defrosters: ensure these are both functioning properly, clear of debris and vanes are in the correct positions.
- Anti-braking system: ensure ABS is operating correctly at the beginning of winter and carefully monitor it throughout the season.
- Emergency kit: just like you have in your home and in your car, we recommend having first aid and emergency kits that are fully stocked with band-aids, duct tape, adhesive tape, rubbing alcohol, bandages or gauze, instant cold packs, scissors, and pain relievers like Advil. Plus emergency needs like tire chains, bungees, road triangles, and light-reflective clothing (all of which the company provides).
Drive With Pride
At Pride Transport, we don’t just hire truck drivers, we help train them and work on developing lifelong skills. We give you the tools you need to be the safest driver possible but we’ll also give you a clear picture of what life on the road is like. Not only do we offer evaluations and full training programs, but we pay you to get the training you need to succeed. With our stellar reputation, high-level job placement, knowledgeable training programs, and dedicated support, get ready to make a real difference with Pride.