One of the crucial components of road safety is vehicle health which not only makes sure that the driver and other people sharing the road are safe and sound, it also enforces the deadlines. For long route truckers, something as small as a flat tire can delay the entire shipment upto 12 hours, so, just imagine what it can do with bigger problems.
With the whole world battling a global pandemic, it is now more than ever important to get the goods on time as all of them are needed by citizens and medical professionals. At this time, not only fewer auto-repair shops are open, but also there is a shortage of staff. Combine that with social-distancing rules, the delay rate per issue is almost doubled. Not to mention, due to varying regulations, trucks are delayed and stopped without prior notice at many places.
Due to added difficulties, the trucks are stranded on the road or the repair garage for days together. Hence, at this point, the drivers have to pay more focussed attention to the vehicle and maintain some parts by themselves to make sure the much needed machine endurance.
Here is a system by system breakdown on some tips so you can look after your vehicle on the road:
- The engine, gearbox, differential are responsible for the majority of the longer route troublemakers. Make sure to check the oil levels and whether the correct oil has been put in and there is no adulteration.
- Continuously replace the water or make sure the water level is correct if the engine is water cooled. If there is an issue with engine cooling, the powertrain will die.
- Reserve an ear for the engine noise. Depending whether you are using a diesel or petrol machine, the engine will let you know that something is wrong with it or about to be through sound.
- Try to drive the vehicle in medium to average speed range. Apart from giving the best mileage, it will also keep the engine in the optimum temperature which will ensure longevity of the machine.
- The chassis and the outer body are exposed to the outer environment and also carry the load. Make sure there are no impurities stuck to it and no bare metal is exposed as it invites corrosion and weakens the chassis.
- Sometimes in the interiors, especially under the carpet there are perishables(half consumed food, water, etc.) and this creates a smelly environment. Do keep the cabin thoroughly clean so that the driver can put most of his/her attention on the road.
- Mirrors, doors and windows are important as they are moving and important safety components. Keeping the hinges oiled and replacing the smaller components soon is recommended.
- Suspension comes under a lot of stress when the vehicle is carrying load, especially when the road is rough. Slow driving is highly recommended and if possible take an alternate route even if it is a bit longer.
- Rotate tires whenever necessary with the help of a jack and kit. Carry an air pump to keep the tire pressure in the range and while parking try not to touch the kerbs as it radially damages the tire.
- Like the engine, the suspension emits noise when it is in pain. Basically, the reason is lack of lubrication and dirt and dust is prohibiting the smooth motion of the bearings.look out for creaking and clicking noise.
- The battery and fuses are not just used for lighting, without it functioning properly, the truck won’t start. Make sure the fuses and wires are clean and properly insulated. Keep additional acid handy if your battery needs it.
- The starter motor sometimes lags and it happens if the winding is not properly insulated. Keep duct tape handy to prevent some contact points from touching the motor housing.
- The interior and especially exterior lighting must be properly sealed and non conductors should be exposed. Lights keep you safe and alert other drivers of your road presence and used for driver communication.
- Too much stress can be weary for the driver, so if the stereo is alive and kicking, you are good to go.
- The rear latches and lateral latches are notoriously infamous to give up at the wrong time causing mayhem on the road. Recheck the latches whether they are properly fixed and are not rusty. Paint them regularly.
- While transferring wet material, it is important to clean the base of the carrier. Although it is recommended to use a waterproof barrier or paint it.
- In case of non-joined carriers, make sure that the nuts and bolts are clean and strong, the UV joint is well lubricated and clean.
All the above points are meaningless unless the trucker has the manufacturer’s safety and repair manual and a repair kit, which is a standard in all of the heavy vehicles. Apart from that keep some spare parts like a tire or a headlamp, which are small parts but are extremely crucial. A container of water and another that of fuel is heavily recommended have the knowledge of some authorised repair shops en route for additional safety.