Vehicle maintenance costs can be a huge line item for fleet companies and at times, hard to keep under control. Routine maintenance of your vehicles is a necessity in order to ensure that your biggest assets stay on the road at all times.
With CVSA International Roadcheck Blitz May 17-19 focusing on wheel ends, we wanted to bring back our discussion with Ryan Zimmerman, VP of Rohrer’s Service Center, a division of Rohrer’s Quarry on his thoughts on how he maintains his fleet.
Rohrer’s Quarry has a fleet of 51 power units and does a great job in maintaining their fleet. Ryan, who has been with Rohrer’s since 1997 handling their fleet maintenance, knows the importance of keeping his vehicles in great shape and in good working order.
With the upcoming Road check focused on wheel ends what should a driver look for to make sure they are compliant?
A thorough pre-trip can catch most issues before the DOT inspector can. Pay close attention to the easy things an officer can pick out.
- Check for broken springs or loose hardware and U-bolts in the suspension, look for rust trails or shined-up components, an indication of shifting front and back.
- With the engine off, check the steering shaft from column to steering gear box; there should be no play in shaft or u-joints.
- Start the engine and rotate steering shaft back and forth and observe the drag link and tie rod ends you can see from the left side, looking for loose components.
- Look for power steering system leaks and rubbed or frayed hoses.
What do you see as the most common defects in steering and suspension systems?
The most over looked component is the steering gear input shaft. Any play in this component is non-compliant with the DOT. Another common defect if you are operating a vocational truck in rough jobsites, the suspension springs will get weak and break over time.
How often do you recommend drivers check for defects in steering and suspension systems?
I feel it is a good practice to check steering and suspension systems at the start of every shift with your pre-trip.
Not only will it give you peace of mind in the event of a DOT inspection, this check also allows you to get to your destination and back home safely and without a roadside service call.
How often should a truck come in for preventive maintenance?
How often your truck requires maintenance depends mostly on how it is being used.
Is your truck in a vocational, city, or over-the-road application? All truck manufactures have specific service guidelines based on fuel consumption and idle/PTO time that will give a description of normal, heavy or severe duty.
It can be calculated by engine hours or mileage; this is generally 500 – 1300 hours or 5,000 – 45,000 miles.
If you are unsure of how often to seek preventative maintenance ask your local independent service provider or dealership, they will partner with you to fit your application and needs. Know your truck and take care of it, it will provide reliable service to you.
What are the key items that should be checked for during a preventive maintenance check in?
A lot of roadside/breakdown issues and DOT issues can be addressed during PMs. This is an area where it can be costly to cut corners. These are some of the key items you or your service provider should be checking:
- Brakes; lining adjustment, automatic brake slack operation, wheel seals, cracks and hardware issues
- Steering/Suspension; Springs/air bags, Kingpins, wheel bearings/seals, steering links
- Oil level checks and lube necessary brake, steering and suspension components, and check for fluid leaks, filters and fluids that need replaced
- Belts and hoses, tire condition, exhaust leaks, and general operation of truck.
How to Start a Preventative Maintenance Program
There are three main tasks you need to do to start a preventative maintenance (PM) program.
- Perform an inventory of all equipment: review maintenance records for each vehicle to find regular maintenance activities trends
- Create a PM schedule: check the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance frequency schedules for eall your equipment and create a system to send automatic maintenance alerts
- Establish record-keeping methods: this includes how the information will be reported and where will it be stored in case of an audit
Are there common issues still surprizing you? Dont forget to review and optimize your preventative maintenance program regularly to make sure you are on top of your vehicle and equipment maintenance schedule.