Hot weather can cause costly damage to your trucks if you’re not prepared. A few minutes looking over these important summer maintenance tips will help you keep your drivers comfortable, safe, and cool when the thermometer rises.
It’s especially important to check the following:
Changing oil regularly on your truck will reduce wear on your engine and guard against rust and corrosion in all climates. Extremely hot and cold temperatures can speed up the thermal breakdown of oil, causing it to become less effective as a lubricant. Coordinate your oil changes with a preventative maintenance (PM) plan to avoid missing any oil changes.
Summer is a great time to change worn belts and hoses. It’s a relatively inexpensive service that is extremely important. Failure to change or replace these items could lead to more costly engine repairs, breakdowns, and downtime. Inspect hoses visually for signs of cracks and wear. Coolant hoses degrade inside out, so it’s important to squeeze near the ends to “feel” for wear. A spongy versus firm feeling means that it’s time to replace your coolant hoses.
Overheating is the most common cause of breakdowns in the summer. Antifreeze isn’t just for the winter. It is used by both the heating and air conditioning systems. Checking the antifreeze concentration levels and inspecting the ratio to water is key. If the antifreeze is too “thin” then it won’t work properly. We also recommend scheduling an engine wash out as well to remove radiator debris. Completely flush out your radiator’s antifreeze at least once a year and don’t forget to pressure test the radiator cap. These steps will keep your drivers happy and comfortable when the temperatures soar.
Extreme heat and temperature conditions can cause your tires to blowout. Check tire pressure and tread depth at least once a month on your trucks and trailers (over inflated tires can be an issue as hot air expands). Look for cracks on both tires and wheels, sidewall wear and tear, uneven tire wear, as well as any nails, screws or debris that may be stuck in the tires. Tires tend to run hotter and wear faster in the warm weather, which means the tread portion of the tire becomes softer in the summer months, making them more susceptible to punctures from road debris.
Check hoses and fittings for any leaks and look for tears or punctures. Test the blower motor and listen for any inconsistent, odd sounds – it could be time to replace it. Check filters to be certain they aren’t plugged. Checking air filters is important but we recommend leaving this to the professionals. A visual check is not a good way to judge if your filter is plugged and you never want to remove a filter to inspect it, as debris could end up getting lodged in your air intake.
Batteries aren’t just a concern in the winter. Heat is a big factor in corroding batteries or battery sulfation. Buildup of corrosion can cause a lower voltage from the battery over time. Inspect battery cables for damage, to ensure they are clean. Use a hydrometer to test battery cells for strength. A low reading typically means it’s time to change the battery.
Electronic component failures can be caused by damaged or missing heat guards, heat shields or heat deflectors, especially within those components found near the exhaust system after-treatment devices. Excessive heat can also melt or make the plastic electrical connectors brittle, leading to electrical malfunctions. This is caused by poor connections at the electronic control units, sensors and solenoids that control various vehicle systems.
Waxing is a simple truck maintenance step to protect the finish from harmful dirt and UV rays. To reduce the amount of glare, keep the windows clean inside and outside to improve visibility. It is scientifically proven that a clean truck can increase fuel economy due to the decrease of wind resistance caused by dirt and other contaminants, and it looks great too!