Whether you are a truck driver, the owner of a fleet of semi-trailers, or a company that maintains 18-wheelers, you know the magnitude of regularly maintaining your big rig(s). There’s no two ways around it. Semi-trailers must be regularly checked; you must troubleshoot, diagnose, and/or repair your vehicle to ensure it is safe for both you to drive and for other drivers to be travelling near you on the road.
Here are some time-and-money-saving tips that will help you reduce trailer maintenance while improving your trailer’s performance.
Check Your Brakes Before Every Long Haul
There are certain components of your semi-trailer’s brake system that deteriorate over time and that need to be checked; these include air leaks, drum wear, bearing seal leaks, and brake shoe wear. In addition, check to make sure your truck’s “low air warning” device is working. Being able to detect deteriorating conditions both visually and through your truck’s warning systems can mean the difference between stopping your semi-trailer when you want and trying to maneuver a big rig that is gaining speed and out of control. If you make it a habit to implement preventive maintenance procedures regarding your rig’s braking system, you’ll be able to detect and then repair worn or defective brakes before any drastic brake failure can occur. You’ll save stress, time, and money in the long haul.
Research and Invest in Quality Equipment Upfront
Diligently focus on spec’ing not only your semi-trailers brakes, tires, and other traditionally-expensive elements, but also on the smaller components that can really make a difference in ongoing maintenance costs over the years you own your trailer. While you may find yourself making a bigger investment upfront for top-of-the-line, quality components that are the best for your semi-trailer’s particular application, they’ll be able to sustain wear and tear over the long haul and require less maintenance further down the road. For example, a commonly-recommended and increasingly-standard spec for the top rails of trailers is LED lighting. While LED lighting costs more than the traditional incandescent lighting, it’s worth it if you plan on driving your rig for at least three years. The bottom line, invest in quality equipment upfront and it will pay for itself by requiring less hassle, less stress, less replacements, and less maintenance costs over time.
Invest in Damage-Resistant Liners for Your Trailer’s Interior
Instead of old plywood-lined sidewalls that typically need to be replaced because they easily get banged up and scuffed, invest in damage-resistant, high-strength interior liners for your trailer. For dry van trailers, high-strength steel liners last longer, reduce maintenance costs, and extend repair requirements.
Prevent Corrosion: Simply, Keep It Clean
By simply having your trailer washed down thoroughly after long runs (especially during the winter months and in inclement weather) you can significantly help to prevent corrosion from occurring under your trailer. Frequent washing prevents excessive signs of corrosion. Take care of your trailer and it will last longer, be safer, and save you from having to invest in repairs, maintenance, and replacement parts.
Frequent and Overall Inspections
Although it may take some time before you head out, it’s important to look over your semi-trailer from top to bottom at least once a month. In addition, keep a record of when it was checked and what was found. By doing this, you’ll be able to identify areas that need immediate repair so that they don’t get worse over time and turn into a safety hazard. In fact, some of your findings might be covered under warranty.
While there are many additional things you can do to lower your maintenance costs, implementing these five is a great start.
Roderick Brown is a freelance journalist covering general business and niche topics.