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Keeping Your Truck Upbeat

Your truck is both a tool and an investment. Protect it with regular maintenance to ensure it will function without complications and last a long time. While people use their trucks for a variety of duties, the maintenance checklist is typically the same. There are a few parts in the truck that tend to wear out more rapidly and need careful inspection to determine when they need replacing. A strong truck is one that is maintained regularly. Knowing what to check on your truck is essential to keeping it running well year ’round. **Truck Maintenance** Fluid Checks • Trucks use a fair amount of fluids to perform its everyday tasks like hauling loads or moving freight—it is important you check the fluids regularly. Check the fluids once a month. The fluids include the brake fluid, coolant, oil and power steering fluid. It is best to check the oil once the engine has warmed up for 10 minutes. Oil expands as it cools and constricts as it heats up, so you will get the most accurate reading when the engine is warm. While you are under the hood, check for leaking hoses, strange noises or anything that seems to be loose or bulging. These checks should be performed when you buy your vehicle; this way you know what your truck sounds like when it is running normally and what abnormal sounds are in relation to the original engine sound. When you buy your truck, whether it is new or used, make sure you have an owner’s manual. It will tell you what type of fluids to use and what the maintenance schedule for the truck should be. Advanced Maintenance • If you are driving a heavy-duty truck, used to carry loads booked from freight brokers, grease moving parts in your truck’s engine weekly. Change the fluids and power components in your vehicle according to the hours you are driving. The oil should be changed every 250 hours of driving, while the automatic transmission fluid and the standard transmission fluid should be changed every 500 and 1000 hours, respectively. The rear differentials, a component of your trucks axle, should have its fluid changed every 600 hours; the power steering, what makes the truck turn easily even though it weighs more than a ton, should have its fluid changed every 1000 miles. Extras • Add extras to your engine to keep it running efficiently, such as fluid add-ons that aid performance. Add engine coolant such as Flex-a-lite to your hydraulic system to keep engine running heat low, extending the life of your engine. Add fluid to your gasoline tank, called an additive, to get better gas mileage and to keep your fuel pipes clean. If you own a fleet of trucks for shipping, it may initially cost a lot for these materials, but adding these aids to your trucks will extend the life of them. Regular maintenance often costs a fraction of repairs. **Maintenance Checklist** Check Tire Inflation • Tires experience the most wear over time and should be carefully monitored for safety and gas mileage reasons. Overinflated tires causes safety risks because they are more prone to blowing out on the highway or premature tire tread wear. Checking Oil • Checking the oil in your truck regularly is important. Oil protects your engine from wearing out prematurely and future engine-related breakdowns. Checking your truck’s oil regularly means you are more likely to determine quickly when the oil should be changed Engine Belts • Most truck engines have numerous strong rubber belts that drive everything from the alternator to the air-conditioning compressor. If you are looking at the belts yourself, check for small cracks in the rubber, which indicate the need to replace the belts. **Organizing Maintenance Records** (1) Get an 8 1/2′ by 11” spiral notebook. Prefer the ones that have a folder section as well and at least a 70 page one. This is a good place to keep receipts for truck purchases and warranties for quick retrieval. (2) Divide the notebook into two sections, General Maintenance and Major Maintenance. Under the General maintenance list by date oil changes, tune ups, wiper changes, and tire rotations. Maintenance that is required on a regular schedule. The key is to date each upkeep and keep the receipts in the folder section. Under the Major Maintenance keep track of things such as exhaust work, major engine work and tire purchases. Keep the receipts and guarantees in the folder section so that you have easy access to those records. (3) Finally, keep the notebook in a safe place with easy access. It does you no good to keep the records if you cannot find them. I suggest the glove compartment or if your truck has it a center console.