Last Update on December 22, 2015 // Written by Hank
Image by: CaptSpaulding
Any business that is dependent upon transport is only as good as the trucks that keep everything moving. This is why it is so important to establish effective insurance for a truck or HGV in the event of a breakdown or accident. Although mechanical failure can and does happen unexpectedly, there are also precautions one can take to limit and prevent common truck problems.
Always keep your trucks well maintained. If your business heavily relies upon trucks for its income then regular maintenance is the key to ensuring everything continues to run as it should. There may be other areas of the business that can be put on hold or survive cutbacks, but truck maintenance should never be one of them. With a functioning vehicle, fleet drivers should be able to complete their job easily. To ensure the vehicles are well-maintained for long drives, you might even want to get advanced driver-assistance systems (learn more here) implemented to ensure your drivers can drive carefully.
Most mechanical problems can be predicted well in advance and there are common parts that a good mechanic will check and service regularly. When problems are identified there is often a kind of internal bargaining or trade off that lean businesses tend to make. Should money be spent on repairs now or is it better to wait a little longer and pay when there has been a particularly profitable run of earnings. Rather than asking ‘can I afford this maintenance bill right now?' the question should be ‘can I afford to have my truck off the road right now?' If you can't then don't risk it.
There are some basic tasks that can be done to a truck that will help keep it up and running as it should. The crucial area to attend to is fluids and oils. It is vital to ensure that engine oil, coolant levels and transmission fluids are checked frequently as any failure in these systems could be catastrophic, rendering the truck totally unusable and needing expensive repairs or an entire engine or transmission replacement. The same diligence applies to hydraulic fluids for brakes and steering. Become familiar with the right amounts of fluids and pay close attention to any drops in fluid levels, leaky seals or new drips and spills as these could quickly lead to serious problems. Addressing them sooner rather than later with a routine truck service could save thousands of dollars in repairs and lost income if the truck is taken off the road and unable to work as it should.
Take a long drive on any major highway and you will inevitably see shredded truck tyres scattered in the service lane. Every blowout equals a potential accident and time wasted changing tyres. It can be annoying to check multiple truck tyres but making sure they all have plenty of tread and no obvious damage could save a life. This small precaution will definitely limit the inconvenience of having the truck off the road and idle for the time that it takes to change a blowout or wait for a replacement.
One of the best ways to prevent mechanical problems is to pay attention to any noises, rattles, vibrations, or other out of the ordinary sounds that the truck may have recently developed. Be sure to report these to your regular mechanic for investigation. When multiple drivers use the same truck they may not report any problems until they become more serious, preferring just to push on and get the job done. It's important to train all drivers to make a mental note of irregularities and report them. This one tip can save thousands of dollars on unnecessary repairs by catching problems early rather than later.
Planned maintenance is something that every truck owner aspires to, but more often than not repairs happen infrequently or well after the recommended service schedule. Creating a simple database or spreadsheet can help ensure maintenance is done when it is supposed to. Setting up a regular reminder in a smart phone or old style desk top calendar makes it harder to miss service appointments. Some larger companies have GPS modules set to automatically send a service notification every 5000 kilometres. When the alert is received a reminder to schedule a maintenance check can be triggered. Some systems will even automatically book the appointment with the mechanic.
Preventing common mechanical failures is not rocket science but it does require vigilance and a few simple systems in place to make sure issues are nipped in the bud before they become expensive headaches. When the life and health of a company depends upon properly functioning trucks it is in everyone's interest to take pre-emptive action sooner, rather than later.