Scorching hot months are just around the corner. When discussing semi-truck maintenance, most drivers think of winter and the necessary preparations for icy roads and slushy weather. However, veteran drivers know that preparing their cab for summer is just as important. When the heat begins to set in, you’ll be glad that you took the time in these cooler spring months to ready your vehicle, inside and out. This is especially true if you have multiple semis to tend to.
How To Prep Your Semis For Warmer Weather
Even if you’ve driven across the country for several summers now, it’s important to remember your semi maintenance checklist. As a driver, you’d know it better than most, but a semi-truck is almost like its own ecosystem and if any one thing falls too far out of balance, the entire system can get damaged, or worse---fail entirely. And trust us, you don’t want to get stranded in the blistering heat.
A good place to start is by checking your cooling systems, both for the interior of your truck and the benefit of your engine. First, check your levels and fill up on antifreeze. Make sure to observe the color and consistency of your coolant as well. If the antifreeze is murky or has particulates, it could be pointing to a bigger problem. The color of the coolant may vary depending on what type you use, but ranges from green, red, and even orange. When adding additional coolant, make sure you read the packing instructions. Some mixtures need the addition of deionized water.
Note: Antifreeze should be checked every 500 hours of operation.
If you haven’t looked beneath the hood of your semi recently, we can tell you that it gets grimey in a hurry. Moving from top to bottom to dislodge dirt and residue from past trips not only makes future inspections easier, but keeps other important parts from getting sticky, melted, or damaged.
Doing a brakes check should be part of your routine semi maintenance. However, it’s particularly important to follow this step during the hot summer months, especially if you’ll be traveling through states like Texas or Arizona.
Just as with a normal passenger vehicle, brakes need regular attention. When we pump the air breaks on semi-trucks, the action generates an astounding amount of heat born from the sheer size of the machinery we’re operating. A semi can weigh up to 80,000 lbs, and the amount of friction and heat caused by such an action can other components to overheat or become damaged if the brakes aren’t regularly tuned. Combine this with record high temperatures and miles of scalding highway, and you have a recipe for disaster without the appropriate attention.
The tires on a semi-truck take a substantial amount of abuse. Not only do they support the weight of impossibly large cargo loads, but they also travel over thousands of miles of terrain. During the cooler months, tires will often look deflated, prompting most drivers to instinctively add air to them. However, when the temperatures rise again, the air inside the tires can expand, causing them to be overly inflated, or in some cases burst.
How Often Should I Replace The Tires On My Semi?
As truck drivers, we tend to go through a lot of tires. However, tires that have been appropriately maintained should only need to be changed every three to six years.
Wipers are a pretty common item to include in a checklist like this. If you’ve noticed your windshield getting streaky, or your wipers squeaking, it’s time to replace them. Even during the summer months, you can encounter everything from rain, to hail, and even bugs. Keeping your view of the road clean and clear should be paramount.
Transmission Fluid Levels
Checking your fluid levels will ensure that your transmission continues to run smoothly. Transmission fluid keeps all of the parts of your semi’s transmission moving fluidly. As with your coolant, make sure that you have ample fluids, check for discoloration and particulates. If you encounter any of these issues, it’s likely time to change the filter.
Check Your Supplies
This is a step you should be participating in regularly, but ensure that the interior of your cab is properly stocked with necessary supplies. This can include items like an emergency kit, a medical kit, and personal supplies to help you combat the heat. Additionally, make sure you stock the means to stay hydrated in addition to keeping sunscreen on hand.
Talk to just about any driver and they’ll tell you a personal story or a recount from someone else’s misadventure wherein an emergency kit came in handy. You never know what’s going to happen when you’re out on the open road, so being a little over-prepared is never a bad thing.
Medical Supply Kit
Medical kits don’t have to be big to be effective. Even if the worst you encounter is a headache, it’s nice to have the peace of mind preparedness brings.
Tri-State Truck Center Is Your Semi Service Resource
Tri-State Truck has been selling and servicing semi-trucks all across the midsouth for three generations. We’ve seen every issue imaginable, so when we can offer guidance on how to avoid trucking mishaps or damaged vehicles, we jump at the opportunity. If you have questions, concerns, or are looking for the right cab for the job, call us today and we’ll get you back on the road.