Vehicle maintenance is something that every automobile owner should be aware of. For truck drivers, the importance is even more critical. You depend on your rig to get you where you need to go (and if you own a smaller variety of truck, you can skip to the end for gadgets that help maintain your truck, too). Getting stranded can spell financial ruin and can put you in harm’s way when out on the open road. Ensuring that your truck is running well means taking proper measures to keep everything operating well underneath and outside of the hood. Every year, thousands of truck drivers break down due to failing to employ simple tests and routine maintenance. Don’t let this happen to you. You know how important your truck is for your career, so why cut corners when maintaining it?
Proper Truck Maintenance
- Keep it clean
- Always use the correct fluids and check them regularly
- Always check your tires before driving
- Inspect lights and other safety features
- Remember to change the oil
Keeping your truck clean may not seem to be a point worth stressing when discussing truck maintenance. However, not keeping the body free from grime and debris will cause it to erode more quickly. It is only a matter of time before you will need to have a body shop restore it for you, as a damaged exterior can pose safety hazards for others on the road. The cost of having the body of your truck professionally restored will be much higher than if you regularly washed it. Use a pressure washer or go through an automatic bay that is equipped to handle rigs. This is a simple investment that really does matter.
The engines in heavy duty trucks are subject to far greater duress than regular automobiles are. Thus, keeping them running smoothly means using the correct fluids (oil, transmission, radiator etc.), as well as checking them on a regular basis. Given that you are covering far more miles than a regular driver, these essential fluids will be used up more quickly. Check the recommended intervals and never miss them. You may think you can get an additional couple thousand miles out of the engine, but this is only contributing to further wear and tear.
Your truck’s tires are the only thing keeping you on the road. To protect yourself, your investment, and other drivers on the road, you should always check the condition and tire pressure of all of the tires on your rig. It may be a bit time consuming to inspect 18 different wheels, but it is well worth it. Blow outs lead to jackknifes and severe accidents.
Make sure all of the lights and additional safety features are working on your truck as well (turning signals, headlights, and horn). There is a reason why these parts are installed, so don’t forget about them during the inspection process.
Last, you will want to change your oil on a regular basis. Depending on the type of oil you use and the conditions you are driving in, this could be anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 miles.
Not really a big rig driver, but you’d like to maintain the smaller truck in the driveway that happens to be your pride and joy? Here are five gadgets that can help truck owners maintain their vehicles:
Weatherproof Backup Camera with Night Vision
Backing up a vehicle of any size safely can be a challenge for any driver, regardless of experience. Add the hazards of darkness or other low-visibility conditions (like lousy weather, dust storms, plagues of locusts, etc.), and a little extra help from modern technology can make all the difference between triumph and tragedy. The XO Vision HTC35 Universal Weatherproof Backup Camera with Night Vision gives you an extra pair of eyes in the back of your head so that you can confidently put your many-wheeled monster in reverse and react quickly should an obstacle present itself in your backwards path.
Remember the old days, when the village didn’t consider you an adult until you could get up on your pony without assistance and help haul groceries from the country store fifteen miles away? Nope. Me, neither. Still, having something to hold onto in order to hoist yourself up into that saddle was surely a boon when the situation called for it. After the same fashion, the Standers Handybar lets you safely embark and disembark from the elevation of your truck’s seat without slipping. We won’t tell you how to get off your high horse — just make sure you do it carefully!
Heininger 4040 HitchMate TireStep
The Heininger 4040 HitchMate TireStep is an extra step (literally) that lets you proudly walk on up to your truck’s higher altitudes without fear of falling. Why struggle like a backturned turtle to reach the driver’s seat when you can majestically ascend or descend like a dignified foreign diplomat visiting with heads of state in exotic lands afar? In conjunction with the aforementioned Standers Handybar, this could possibly be the safest way to get in and out of your truck (even for the clumsy among us).
DiabloSport I1000 inTune Vehicle Programmer
The DiabloSport I1000 inTune Vehicle Programmer proves that there really is an app for just about anything these days. This touchscreen-equipped tuning device plugs into your vehicle’s OBD-II port and interacts with your PC or Mac to monitor everything from calibration to fuel, tire size, spark, idle, gears, shift points, speed limits, and more. Regular updates are just a USB cable away.
Hypertech 32000 Max Energy Power Programmer for 1996-2007 GM Gas Truck/SUV
There’s no need for me to tell you about the cost of gas (or the price of tea in China, for that matter), but if you want to get “every bit of energy possible out of every molecule of fuel giving you more miles at part-throttle and more power at wide-open throttle,” then the Hypertech 32000 Max Energy Power Programmer for 1996-2007 GM Gas Truck/SUV is your ticket. Being efficient is something that we human beings aspire toward, but leaving the heavy calculations to an electronic brain (barring errors in the initial programming that was done by a human, of course) is usually the smarter way to go.
I am a writer and photographer living in Canada. After graduating from Humber College in Toronto I have done some creative writing for some blogs and newsletters. Blogging is my passion and I write about a wide variety of topics of common interest. I also love to go through the reader comments on my posts. I’m a passionate “foodie” and adore going to good restaurants, but I personally I don’t like to cook. During free time I like to go SCUBA diving with my husband and son.
Image: International L-130 truck by dave_7 (via Flickr)