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fleet maintenance in mn

A Complete Commercial Vehicle Maintenance Checklist

It’s just about impossible to hit the road and not see dozens of commercial trucks out there delivering the items so many of us rely on in our everyday lives while providing a much-needed boost to our nation’s economy. 

The numbers back it up, too. According to American Trucking Associations, trucks move nearly 75 percent of the nation’s freight by weight, bringing in more than $732 billion in gross freight revenues in 2020 alone. There were more than 38 million trucks registered and used for business purposes in 2019, making it no surprise that commercial trucks make up 14.4 percent of all registered vehicles.

With all these commercial vehicles on the road traveling hundreds of billions of miles each year, there are bound to be accidents, some of which can have tragic outcomes.

In 2019, 118,000 large trucks were involved in crashes resulting in an injury. Just over 5,000 were involved in fatal accidents. Then there are all the other minor incidents that occur on highways across the country that may not cause physical harm but can lead to missed delivery deadlines, high repair costs and overall frustration for operators and fleet managers. 

While there’s no way to prevent every accident from happening, developing a robust preventative fleet maintenance checklist for semi-trucks is your best bet for staying safe while you’re on the road.

 

Why commercial vehicle maintenance is important

Why exactly is commercial truck maintenance so critical? Well, for just about every reason you could possibly imagine. By being proactive in taking care of your commercial trucks, not only will they last longer but they’ll also be safer to operate, both of which will help contribute to your company’s bottom line. 

We’ll break down a few of the top reasons why you should implement a preventative maintenance program for your commercial vehicles:

 

Preventative maintenance will keep your operators safe

When you’re driving a vehicle that can weigh more than 33,000 pounds, the last thing you want is to get into an accident. Trucks that get regular maintenance are less likely to be plagued by dangerous issues like brake failure or engine troubles that can contribute to the likelihood of crashing and causing harm to both the driver and anyone else who might be nearby.

 

preventative maintenance for truck fleetsPreventative maintenance will help you be more productive

In the trucking and transportation industry, the strength of your reputation will make or break you and when your vehicles are sidelined due to mechanical problems, you run the risk of missing important deliveries. 

That never reflects well on you, especially when you’re working with a new customer. A commercial vehicle maintenance program will help ensure your fleet is ready to roll so your productivity – and your profitability – won’t suffer.

 

Preventative maintenance helps you stay in compliance

Commercial vehicles go through frequent inspections on both the state and federal level and if even one part is out of place or not functioning properly, it can mean hefty fines, not to mention time spent off the road to fix the problem. 

By creating and using a preventative maintenance checklist, you’ll be better prepared for every inspection and less likely to experience any unpleasant surprises. 

 

Preventative maintenance helps to save money

You know the old saying “you have to spend money to make money,” right? It applies to many things in life and it also holds true in the trucking and transportation industry. Even though it’ll cost you some cash upfront, paying for a preventative maintenance program is far more affordable than having to deal with constant emergency repairs which can add up fast.

Plus, aside from the cost of repairs, vehicles that aren’t well maintained don’t run efficiently, meaning that they’re more expensive to operate and that can really cut into your profits over time.

 

Scheduled preventative maintenance checklist

Developing a preventative maintenance checklist is the best way to ensure that each commercial vehicle in your fleet is in good working condition and ready to hit the road safely. Your list should not only include the items that need to be regularly checked but also a schedule for when these tasks should be completed so nothing falls through the cracks. 

A good place to start is with a comprehensive evaluation of all your vehicles. By collecting service records and owner’s manuals and combining them with real-time stats such as mileage, tire pressure and odometer readings, you’ll get a pretty good idea of the health of the vehicle and the things you need to do to keep it running smoothly for years to come. 

 

Here are some general items to put on your preventative maintenance checklist with more details on how to schedule them in the next sections:

 

truck alignment service in MNMileage-based maintenance checklist

There are a number of ways fleet managers determine when to do maintenance, but basing it on mileage is one of the most common. Your vehicle’s owner’s manual should provide a guide to which services need to be completed and how often, though it’s always a good idea to use your own observations – and those of your operators – to come up with a schedule that makes the most sense. 

For additional guidance, check out these recommendations from the State of Utah’s Department of Administrative Services Division of Fleet Operation:

 

Every 10,000 miles:

  • Change oil and oil filter
  • Lubricate chassis, steering, suspension and driveline
  • Check belts, hoses, and fill fluid levels
  • Drain fuel filter/water separator
  • Rotate tires and adjust air pressure
  • Check brakes
  • Replace external fuel filters

 

At 30,000, 90,000, 60,000, 90,000, 120,000 and 180,000 miles:

  • All of the above, plus
  • Inspect engine air filter restriction gauge and replace filter
  • Replace cabin air filter

 

At 150,000 miles:

  • Inspect engine air filter restriction gauge and replace filter
  • Replace cabin air filter

 

At 60,000, 120,000 and 180,000 miles:

  • All of the above, plus
  • Replace front and rear differential fluid
  • Replace transfer case fluid
  • Transmission service
  • Coolant replacement

 

Seasonal maintenance checklist

Mileage isn’t the only factor to consider when creating your maintenance checklist. The weather can and should influence the types of maintenance you do and when exactly you should be performing it. 

First, let’s talk about winter. In the Midwest, where temperatures drop dramatically and snow and ice are common, it’s important to make sure your vehicles are protected, especially the parts that are exposed to the elements. If you don’t, you could end up significantly diminishing the life of your vehicle – no one wants to do that! 

Here’s what you should focus on during the cold winter months:

  • Check your heater and defroster
  • Monitor your DEF systems and fuel levels
  • Test batteries and connections
  • Check for leaks in the exhaust system
  • Service the fuel filter and drain water separator to prevent freezing
  • Check the windshield for cracks and replace wiper blades when necessary
  • Remove the buildup of road salt on the vehicle’s body and undercarriage by washing it weekly
  • Make sure each vehicle has an emergency kit that can be utilized in extreme weather
  • Check pre-heater and block heater operation
  • Inspect tires and tread so it’s safe for driving in extreme conditions
  • Treat your fuel
  • Service your air dryer

 

On the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got summer and even though it’s much more pleasant to be outside when it’s warm, the heat and dry weather can pose their own challenges when it comes to upkeep. This is the time of year where your maintenance activities will center on keeping your cooling system and engine in good working order. 

Additionally, you’ll need to monitor the condition of your tires weekly as hot summer air can impact the consistency of tire pressure. 

 

Your summer preventative maintenance checklist should include:

  • Examining belts for wear, tear, and tension and replacing them every one to two years
  • Performing a coolant system pressure test
  • Inspecting the cooling system to make sure it is clean
  • Inspecting the radiator and radiator cap for corrosion and replacing when necessary
  • Draining and flushing antifreeze
  • Inspecting radiator and heater hoses and repair them as needed
  • Checking the vehicle’s electrical system, batteries, and battery connections
  • Monitoring water pump pressure and checking for leaks
  • Inspecting the air conditioner cooling coils and cleaning as necessary
  • Inspect tires, tread and air pressures

Get help from the fleet maintenance professionals

prevent semi breakdown - Blaine Bros.If you’re looking to create a solid commercial vehicle maintenance program, Blaine Brothers has you covered 100 percent. Thanks to our 40-plus years serving the trucking and transportation industry in Minnesota and Wisconsin, we have the expertise to help you develop a comprehensive plan for protecting your fleet and we won’t charge you an arm and a leg to do it. Why? Because to us, it’s not about the money – it’s about supporting our customers on every mile of their journey. 

We consider our customers a part of our family and when they succeed, we all win. Contact the fleet maintenance professionals at Blaine Brothers today to find out how we can help you tackle all the items on your commercial vehicle maintenance checklist so you can keep on trucking. 

Blaine, MN

800.833.3257

10011 Xylite Street NE
Minneapolis, MN 55449

Cloquet, MN

888.280.6681

1325 Hwy 45
Scanlon, MN 55720

Clearwater, MN

320.558.9966

750 Heaton BLVD
Clearwater, MN 55320

Baldwin, WI

715.688.2404

2500 Alreich Ave
Baldwin, WI 54002

Truckaline

763.786.8863

10070 Davenport ST. NE
Blaine, MN 55449