For owner-operators, a staunch preventive maintenance (PM) program prevents more than maintenance issues.
Maintaining your equipment will also prevent bad roadside inspections, some accidents and costly repair bills. Certain equipment failures on the road are difficult to foresee, such as engine, transmission or clutch problems. This is not what we are discussing because, while the repair may be costly, a seized engine or a broken pressure plate won’t lead to an accident or a bad roadside.
Ironically, the preventive maintenance issues that cause the most accidents are those that are easy to recognize. According to an FMCSA study, maintenance issues were a contributing factor (but not the direct cause) of 40% of truck accidents:
- Twenty-nine percent of all accidents involving a CMV are caused by failed brakes.
- Six percent are caused by tire problems
- Four percent are caused by improperly loaded trailers.
Also, according to the FMCSA, the Vehicle Maintenance category that generates the most roadside violations is no or not working lights and/or missing reflective tape. Again, something that is easy to see and prevent.
Whether you perform your own maintenance or have a favorite shop, having a good preventive maintenance program is key to being successful in the trucking industry. If you do not have a maintenance schedule in place for your truck, you should get next to a mechanic and create one.
Items you should discuss include:
- How often for a LOF (lube oil change and filter changes.)
- Brake adjustment checks.
- Check for air leaks.
- Grease and check steering components.
- Grease and check all drive shaft components.
- Tire inflation and steering alignment.
- Check leaf springs and other suspension components.
Checking these items routinely will keep you on the right path. Of course, this is in addition to
the items you check daily, such as lighting, tire tread depth and cracks in the windshield.