Semi-Truck Maintenance and Repair Guide: How to Properly Maintain an 18-Wheeler

Preventative maintenance is essential to keep a semi-truck running like new. While the manual lists the common timeframes for routine tune-ups, things can still slip through the cracks if you aren’t careful about keeping up with the recommendations. Here’s a maintenance checklist to keep your 18-wheeler running smoothly no matter where the road takes you.

Why is preventive maintenance important?

Failing to stay up-to-date on your truck’s preventive maintenance means you’re less likely to spot a problem before it occurs.

Take tire pressure for example: If you don’t keep an eye on it, you’re risking a journey with a set of under-inflated tires. This can lead to premature wear and tear, but also may cause your tires to overheat and enhance the potential for an accident.

Tire maintenance represents approximately one-third the cost of truck maintenance. By making a commitment to maintain your semi-truck, you have a better possibility of lowering out of pocket costs. It’s a win-win. You lower the risk of unplanned malfunctions, which in turn saves money and keeps your truck in good condition.

Why is fleet maintenance important for heavy-duty trucks?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, mandates all carriers have a preventative maintenance schedule in place, and all truck parts be “in safe and proper operating condition” at all times.

18-wheelers are subject to roadside inspections for obvious safety reasons. These inspections could have major consequences if industry standards are not met; especially for new carriers.

Consider a carrier has just received a DOT number and must undergo a safety audit within the first 6-18 months of operation. As part of this audit, inspectors will see what percentage of the carrier’s trucks failed roadside inspections. If too many trucks fail, the carrier may be forced to keep its new entrant status.

This legal requirement strengthens the need for preventative maintenance while owner operators continue to do their part in passing roadside inspections on a regular basis.

How to set up a preventative maintenance schedule for 18-wheelers?

Every truck has its own manufacturer’s recommendations. The drivers obtain a preventative maintenance schedule from the original equipment manufacturer, or OEM, to tell you specifically what should be checked (dates, miles logged, hours driven, etc.) and when. That’s where Inland comes in to help.

Monitoring the FMCSA regulations for cut off points is also a beneficial practice when truck parts need to be repaired or replaced. By adding these cut off points to the OEM list, you have now compiled the most complete preventative maintenance list possible for your 18-wheeler. You should be able to locate cut off points for brake adjusters, brake linings, fuel filters, clutches, tires, among other necessary parts.

Next, by using the truck maintenance schedule as a guideline, contact your local Inland technicians to help you make the appropriate repairs, along with pre-trip inspection and maintenance, to get back on the road as quickly as possible.

Keeping a running log surrounding routine maintenance appointments helps you stay on track around the clock, and allows you to budget for the upcoming expenses. For example, when you know the oil change interval recommended by Inland, note the date of the oil and filter change in the maintenance log. Aside from a friendly reminder, and a way to form a good maintenance routine, this log will serve as proof that you have complied with the industry regulations.

Here’s the important part: By law, you are required to keep the maintenance log for a 12-month period while the truck is in service. The log must be kept for a minimum of six months if the truck is taken out of service.

What maintenances are needed to make my semi-truck run like new?

The OEM checklist is intended to be used as a reference guide. Any specific questions should be directed to your dependable technicians at Inland to help you better understand what maintenances are needed for your semi-truck. It may be easy to get carried away and only focus on taking care of everything under the hood, don’t overlook the body itself. Making sure it’s clean and washed will enable you to notice dents and dings right away, and also touch-up scratches before they begin to rust.

If you take care of these maintenance tasks, and perform an annual inspection, your truck has the potential to run like new.

What are the symptoms of low oil pressure?

The oil pressure gauge will notify you when the oil pressure is low, most notably when the truck is idle. The oil level will rise as you begin to drive, then return to low levels when idling next. So don’t be alarmed if you see the notification while stopped at a traffic light!

Oil filters can cause problems with low oil pressure, so you may opt to change the filters before assuming the problem is strictly related with the pressure since it is often a cheaper fix. If changing the oil filter does not solve the problem, then you will need to retrace your steps and troubleshoot once again. The problem could involve the oil pump, or it could be an engine issue. Either way, addressing and solving the issue can prevent further, and likely more expensive, damage. If you’re even unsure, it’s best to reach out to Inland for recommendations before making any many alterations.

Get Help with Semi-Truck Maintenance

Putting together a schedule and checklist for your semi-truck repair is only half the battle. Finding the time to actually perform the maintenance for all the trucks in your fleet is another issue altogether. Hopefully this semi-truck maintenance and repair guide will help you get back on the road as quickly as possible.

Whether you need parts for in-house maintenance and repair, or simply want support with preventative maintenance for truck driving, don’t hesitate to contact your friendly team of Inland professionals to make sure you’re prepared for the open road.