The Complete Guide to Building a Truck Maintenance Schedule (Checklist Included)

The Complete Guide to Building a Truck Maintenance Schedule (Checklist Included)

Diesel Truck Repair | Equipment Repair | Fleet Care | Fleet Maintenance | Repair and Maintenance | 05/22/2023
Written by Stacy Conner

It pays to have a plan. If you work in the commercial trucking industry, it’s crucial to have a preventive maintenance program that works, a program that helps you deliver quality products and services. Foregoing regular maintenance on trucks can lead to costly repairs and increased downtime, which can cause delays in delivery, loss of company morale, and decreased sales. But regular fleet and preventive maintenance can assure your fleet team that your equipment is well-oiled and running in tip-top shape.

But how does one create a truck maintenance schedule in the first place? For over 20 years, Equipment Experts, Inc. has been helping fleet teams create road-worthy truck preventive maintenance programs that keep trucks running longer and farther. In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know to build a truck maintenance schedule that helps you and your team deliver results better, faster, and stronger.

What is truck preventive maintenance?

Truck preventive maintenance refers to regular proactive (meaning conducted ahead of time to avoid future, potential problems) or reactive (conducted after a problem occurs) care and routine repairs to help keep your truck running in optimal condition. Think of preventive maintenance as a routine check-up with the doctor.

At its best, routine doctors appointments are conducted ahead of time to avoid potential problems. At worst, you go to the doctor after an illness has already developed.

What is the goal of preventive maintenance?

The goal of truck preventive maintenance is to help nip potential needed repairs (or “illnesses”, if using the doctor analogy) in the bud before these minor repairs become serious issues that could result in increased truck downtime. The three main anchors of a winning truck preventive maintenance program include:

Keeping in mind these three anchors will help your fleet running at peak capacity, so you can continue delivering quality services and products to your customer base.

Benefits of preventive maintenance for trucks

Aerial view of semi-trucks in a large parking lot

Whether you own one — or several — commercial trucks, semi trucks, or conventional pickup trucks, keeping a truck preventive maintenance program and schedule has loads of benefits.

Not only does it help organize when timely repairs are needed, a preventive maintenance schedule also can help you reduce the number of mechanical problems for your arsenal of trucks — saving you time, money, and hassle in the long run.

Other benefits of keeping a routine preventative maintenance schedule include:

Isn’t a maintenance program costly?

“I know there are tons of benefits of having a routine maintenance program, but won’t it cost me a fortune?” That’s the beauty of the process.

Creating and running maintenance programs isn’t that expensive. These programs actually help fleet teams save money in the long run.

While it might be an initial upfront investment in time and resources, once your semi truck maintenance schedule is set up, you can expect to save — even profit from — creating a truck maintenance program.

A solid chunk of the fees goes towards setting up the technology, processes, and training needed for an organized, efficient, and comprehensive preventive maintenance scheduling program. You’re likely already conducting repairs on your trucks’ system steering, electrical system, and heating systems.

A preventive maintenance program helps ensure your existing processes are smoothed and ironed out to better serve your team and customers, so you can go back to doing what you do best. When your semi trucks are at their best, you can guarantee the upfront investment will pay dividends in the long run.

How to design a winning truck preventive maintenance program

As you and your team accustom yourselves to using a preventive maintenance program, there’s always room to tweak and make the program better. Designing a strong preventive maintenance schedule requires trial and error.

Every fleet and truck will require different maintenance according to its equipment’s lifespan, the type of work conducted, and wear and tear on each piece of equipment.

The key is to continue to monitor your checklists to maintain your fleet by asking the right questions: are we using the right checklists? Are we checking for maintenance monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, and annually? Are the checklists being updated as new technology develops?

The key to a strong truck maintenance schedule lies in regular pre-and post-trip inspections. 

Driver pre-trip inspections

Every truck driver needs to perform inspections on their vehicles to ensure all parts are functioning correctly and so they can operate their rigs on the road with safety in mind. Some of the driver pre-trip inspection checklist items to check before driving on the road include:

A truck that’s properly maintained — with a strong braking system and working turn signals, for example — will make driving smooth and easy and 

Whether summer or winter, a pre-trip inspection can save your entire fleet time by reducing the need for unexpected repairs, needed maintenance, and staying in compliance with safety regulations for the road’s two toughest seasons: winter and summer.

Preventive maintenance by season

You stand to receive so much from setting up a regular maintenance schedule. However, the rewards are only as beneficial as they’re tailored to the season in which your trucks are operating.

Yup, that’s right. There are different types of maintenance for each season of the year.

We’ll describe which truck maintenance issues you should focus on for your rig. We break down the issues by season, specifically summer and winter.

Summer truck maintenance

A semi truck driving on a dirt road

During the summer, it’s important to check up on the following:

Note: truck drivers should monitor the above items throughout the year to keep your fleet in control and running smoothly. These items should not be left until the summer months to be fixed.

Winter truck maintenance

A semi truck snowed in

Ice, salt, wind, snow, mud, and more: winter elements can wreak havoc on trucks. In addition to the items mentioned above in the summer maintenance section, fleet managers, mechanics, truck drivers, and technicians will want to keep the following areas for repair in mind:

For all other preventive maintenance services, check your local fleet repair shop for additional consul on which inspection items are needed for each season, or consult the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)’s annual vehicle inspection report to give you some ideas for your maintenance program checklist and schedule.

TL;DR: A winning PM program starts with Expert help

Equipment Experts, Inc. team with crossed arms in front of a fleet of trucks

In summary, proper fleet management starts with a winning truck maintenance schedule in which:

Not sure where to start? We have plenty of resources to help make creating your winning truck preventive maintenance program easy and smooth.

Contact the Experts today, and we’d be more than happy to help you out with any and all of your questions!

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