Tires and cooling systems are put to the test in hot conditions. Big trucks are tough but run close to tolerance under normal operating conditions. A properly operating cooling system and proper tire care are essential to avoid costly repairs and downtime.
This goes without saying – DO PROPER PRE AND POST TRIPS! You save time and money when you catch problems early. Downtime over the road costs everyone time and the repairs are usually more expensive.
Proper Cooling System Maintenance
Did you know it’s estimated that about 40% of downtime can be traced back to cooling problems? Besides obvious leaks causing costly downtime for repair, an engine overheating can cause significant damage to the motor and reduce its operating life. The cost of preventative maintenance is a fraction of the cost of repairs on the road, reduced performance, and reduced life of the motor.
Hoses, the radiator, and pump need to be regularly checked for leaks and signs of corrosion. Your coolant should be clean with no rust or impurities. Coolant should be tested regularly to check its freeze protection capabilities. Use coolant test strips or “refractometers” to determine the concentration ratio of coolant to water. Always use the manufacturer recommended coolant only – it’s never good to mix and match different types of coolant.
Preventative maintenance on your cooling system should be performed regularly. Follow coolant replacement and flush interval as recommended by the manufacturer. Hoses should be replaced before they leak or fail, usually between every 1 to 2 years.
Proper inflation is a must in the summer. Tires are affected by the heat of a hot summer day and the natural heat they generate from flexing while you’re traveling. Proper inflation helps the tires maintain proper contact with the road and maximize traction and braking. Proper tire care also improves fuel economy and performance.
Under-inflation will generate more heat and cause irregular wear. This will reduce the life of the tire or cause a failure. Over-inflation will increase road shock and irregular wear.
Air pressure should be checked when the tires are cold. While the pressure will increase between 10-15 ppi once the tire heats up – do not under inflate the tires – the increase in pressure is acceptable.
Watch Your Speed
Your tires will be running hotter than usual and excessive speed will increase temperature which is hard on your tires. During the summer, tar in asphalt can “melt” and raise to the surface making the road slippery. The road won’t be as slick as icy roads in the winter, but it will affect traction and breaking. Reduce your speed to keep your tires in good shape and maintain proper traction with the road.
Attention to detail can be the difference between making money and losing money in trucking. Carelessness during with your inspections, or nickel and diming preventative maintenance, will lead to greater expenses and lost revenue down the line.