Freight trucks keep the world moving forward — literally, in many cases. In the United States, upwards of 70% of commercial freight gets moved by semi-trucks. In the United Kingdom, the number is even higher, with 77.4% of all goods transported in the country carried by lorries. If these trucks break down, keeping these countries running becomes challenging at best — and impossible at worst. When should fleet owners schedule semi-truck maintenance?

According to the Recommended Lorry Maintenance Schedule

Perhaps the simplest answer to this question is the most straightforward. Sticking to the lorry maintenance schedule is often the easiest way to determine when to schedule maintenance. Each truck will come with a recommended schedule, based either on time intervals, mileage travelled, usage hours or a combination of the three. Some maintenance tasks, such as a battery service, need to happen every six months — regardless of the battery’s state or whether it’s showing signs of failure. Others, such as an air filter replacement, may only need to be completed once every 12 months.

When The Truck Experiences Heavy Usage or Extreme Weather

Trucking is already a challenging profession when the sun is shining, and the roads are dry. Extreme weather conditions, especially when paired with heavy loads and the task of keeping drivers safe becomes nearly impossible. Additional maintenance and inspections are necessary to ensure that the extra wear and tear isn’t pushing the trucks closer to a breakdown. This plan will be separate from a more traditional semi-truck maintenance schedule and will need to be conducted at the discretion of the driver or fleet owner.

When Warning Lights Start Illuminating

Modern trucks might be smarter than ever, but even older models have ways of communicating with their drivers when something is going wrong. Drivers need to pay close attention to the warning lights on the truck’s dash. When one of these lights illuminates, it’s time to schedule the truck for some regular maintenance or, at the very minimum, an inspection to see what’s triggering the warning light. Determining whether to take the truck offline for repairs is simple.

When the Truck Starts Acting Funny

Many of the technologies used in the modern lorry date back to the beginning of the modern age. Hydraulics, for example, can be traced back to 6000 BC, when ancient Egyptians and Mesopotamians used the technology for crop irrigation. Today, these technologies appear in fleet trucks and a myriad of different industries, but they all have one thing in common — they send some distinctive signs when these pressurised systems begin to fail. These signs might not be apparent to the average person, but to a lorry driver who spends hours a day behind the wheel of their truck, it’s easy to spot when things start going wrong.

When the Seasons Change

Semi-truck maintenance is essential as the world moves from winter to spring or from autumn back into winter. Winter can be a challenging time to move freight, especially in the northern latitudes where snow or ice are common. Additional maintenance is necessary to ensure that cooling systems are functioning properly, that tire pressures are carefully monitored and that the electrical system is not experiencing additional corrosion. Fleet owners should consider seasonal scheduling when creating a lorry maintenance schedule.

When IoT Sensors Send an Alert

The Internet of Things or IoT is a broad name for growing systems of networked devices such as sensors, appliances and more. Fleet monitoring systems that utilise these IoT sensors are becoming more common. While they aren’t a replacement for regular maintenance or inspections, IoT sensors can watch things when mechanics are hundreds or thousands of miles away. If an IoT sensor starts sending an alert, it’s a good indicator that it’s time to schedule a trip to the shop for an inspection and some necessary maintenance.

When The Truck Reaches a Certain Mileage

Most drivers are familiar with mileage-based maintenance, especially for oil changes. While the concept of three months / 3,000 miles for oil changes no longer applies because of advances in oil formulation and engine technology, plenty of tasks are still necessary once the vehicle reaches a certain mileage. The same rule applies to semi-truck maintenance. The easiest way to stick to these mileage deadlines is to refer to the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule. Missing these goals by a few hundred miles isn’t usually a big deal, but it’s important to stick as closely to them as possible to ensure the trucks can keep operating optimally.

Keeping the Fleet Running Smoothly

Regular semi-truck maintenance is an important part of running a fleet smoothly, but it’s not always as simple as picking a random day and sending them into the shop. Take the time to set up a lorry maintenance schedule that incorporates aspects of manufacturer recommendations, seasonal changes and any other variables that could impact the operations and effectiveness of the vehicle. Once the schedule is in place, sticking to it and keeping the fleet running smoothly becomes simpler.

Emily Newton