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Semi Truck Maintenance Checklist: Basic Rules To Follow

With our semi truck maintenance checklist, you’ll know exactly how to take proper care of your truck so you can avoid the possibility of it breaking down while you’re

By

Jacob Lee
August 15, 2022
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Formulating an accurate and consistent semi truck maintenance checklist is essential for a truck driver. Not keeping up with the health of your semi can eventually lead to you breaking down. A broken-down truck will put you behind schedule, eat up precious time and prevent you from making money if you get paid by the mile. 

To keep your truck healthy, your semi truck maintenance checklist should include some of the following items:

  • Tires
  • Brakes
  • Fluids
  • Fuses
  • Suspension and Steering System
  • Lights

Putting these items on your semi truck maintenance checklist will help keep your truck healthy and you on schedule.  

1. Tires

semi truck tires on a pallet jack

The tires on any vehicle, especially a semi truck, are susceptible to a variety of factors that cause wear and tear. Factors ranging from the weather to the condition of the roads you’re driving on can take their toll on your tires. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to make checking your tires part of your preventative maintenance schedule. 

Your tire’s tread wear and air pressure are two particular factors you need to watch for. Below, we’ve listed different items to check on your tires and how often you should do so.

  • Check tire pressure once a week
  • In hot weather (such as during the summer months) check your tire pressure every two hours or after traveling 100 miles
  • In cold weather (such as during the winter months) check tire pressure every two weeks
  • Check the tread of your tires once a month
  • Every three to six years semi truck tires should be replaced 

Tires aren’t the only thing that the summer heat can tough on. Follow our 10 summer driving safety tips for truck drivers to survive during the summertime.

2. Brakes

Brakes are another important part of any vehicle. Semi truck brakes can wear down a lot faster than they normally would for other vehicles. Semi trucks carry extremely heavy loads and have a tremendous amount of momentum. Factors like these require added pressure to bring semis to a stop and as a result, can cause them to wear down at a faster rate. 

The brakes on a semi truck can last anywhere between 250,000 to 300,000 miles before they need to be replaced. That said, you should still keep an eye on how your brakes behave before reaching these limits.  

3. Oil 

A dipstick with a drop of oil on it

Another task that should be part of your preventative maintenance program should be changing your engine oil. Monitoring your engine oil is a task that’s fairly easy to forget, but is crucial for long-term care. Setting yourself reminders is a must. . Typically, your semi can make it 10,000 to 25,000 miles before you’ll need to change out the engine oil. 

However, other factors can cause your engine oil to burn at a much faster pace. Such factors can include:

  • The age of your vehicle
  • The type of terrain you’re traveling on 
  • Frequent rapid acceleration 
  • When your oil is leaking

You don’t have to inspect your oil every time you stop immediately after it’s first been changed. That said, once you reach around 5,000 to 6,000 miles, it’s a good idea to make checking the oil part of your pre-trip inspection.

Some of the toughest terrains you’ll be traveling as a truck driver will be roads that run through mountains. Follow our truck driving tips for mountain roads to stay safe. 

4. Electrical Systems and Wiring

Wiring running from a semi trailer to a semi truck

Taking care of your electrical systems and wiring is important to the functioning of various parts of your semi. The lights on your semi in particular will be negatively impacted if your electrical systems are not working. To keep your electrical systems and wiring in proper working order, make sure that checking them is part of your maintenance plan. 

Fuses and electrical connections that you will need to check for include those that manage:

  • Headlights
  • Brake lights
  • Turn signals
  • Flashers
  • Clearance lights
  • Warning lights

Although they have a long life, bulbs in your light systems do occasionally need to be changed out. Other electrical parts in your semi will need to be checked as well. Running a quick electronics diagnosis can save you from trouble later on. This includes checking the wiring so you can determine if they’re worn out or have come loose from what they’re connected to. 

5. Suspension and Steering System

Aerial view of a semi truck turning into a space

Your semi truck's suspension and steering system is important for a few different reasons. The reasons are as follows

  • First, it aids in providing a comfortable ride for the truck driver and the freight being hauled.
  • Second, it helps keep the tires of the semi and trailer on the road so they can maintain traction.
  • Third, the steering system allows you to change the direction you want to drive.

Not only is it important that the suspension and steering system work for safety reasons, but any problems that arise that aren’t dealt with immediately can cost you financially. To prevent that, regular maintenance of your suspension system should be done every six months. Your steering system should be checked about once a year.   

6. Windshield Wipers

A semi truck driving into a puddle

When the rain starts to fall, your windshield wipers are the tool that you’ll need to use. However, when wiper blades get too old, they can start to damage your windshield. Monitoring the health of your windshield wipers is a lot easier than other parts of your semi. 

The blades will start to make a scraping sound when they go across your window, indicating that it’s time to change them out. Functioning windshield wipers will help you maintain visibility during storms, but our rainy weather safety tips will show you some other ways to stay safe when you drive through a storm. 

7. Cooling System

The grill of a semi truck

A cooling system is made up of multiple parts, all of which need to stay in good shape. Together, each part works to efficiently transfer engine heat and control metal temperatures. 

The parts that make up your cooling system are:

  • Radiator caps
  • Hoses
  • Surge tanks
  • Coolants
  • Oil coolers

When checking your cooling system, inspect these components for signs of wear and tear, corrosion, or defects. 

8. First Aid and Emergency Kit

First aid supplies on a table

If something goes wrong while you’re out on the road and you suffer an injury, having a well-stocked first aid and emergency kit will come in handy. While you might not be using the supplies in either of these kits very often, you should make sure to restock them when you get back from a trip. Products that expire should be replaced.

Some items that should be included in both your first aid and emergency kit include:

  • Adhesive bandages
  • Compresses
  • Tweezers
  • Zip ties
  • Batteries
  • Toilet paper

Check out our article on some of the most important truck driver essentials if you need to stock up, but aren’t sure what to get. 

You Won’t Need A Semi Truck Maintenance Checklist When You Drive For ABCO

At ABCO, we ensure that our trucks get routine fleet maintenance so that they can work properly for all of our drivers. Taking care of our trucks isn’t the only benefit that comes with working for ABCO. We allow our truckers to have flexible schedules so that they can make money on the road and also have time for their friends and loved ones. 

In addition to a flexible schedule, ABCO drivers are paid a $67,000 a year salary or more based on their experience. When you drive for ABCO, you’ll be driving for a company that will accommodate your needs. Complete your ABCO application today to continue your truck driving career with a great company. 

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