Preventive Maintenance done on a regular basis and performed properly puts the owner-operator in charge. It drives costs down while simultaneously driving revenue up. That means real profits! A successful PM program will:

  • Lower total maintenance cost
  • Lower fuel cost through better MPG
  • Lower tire cost
  • Have fewer service failures
  • Have zero towing costs
  • Have less downtime which leads to increased revenue
  • Be a major factor in running a business profitably

Good PM’s Produce Repairs

You should expect to see repairs if the PM is done right. The flip side is that if the PM is done improperly then you have to accept the consequences of unpredictable breakdowns plus all the extra costs that go with them.

There are two types of repairs for purposes of this newsletter – planned and unplanned. (You can substitute “Controlled” and “Uncontrolled”.) Planned (controlled) repairs give you the opportunity to schedule the repair at the best possible time for you and at a negotiated or known price. Unplanned (uncontrolled) repairs mean it can happen at the worst possible time for you. Costs for the unplanned repair can escalate out of control. Since you can’t shop around you’re not in a good position to negotiate. You might feel pressured to make hasty decisions especially if the breakdown puts you behind schedule.

Pre-Trip and Post-Trip inspections compliment Preventive Maintenance. All have something in common – all three are intended to prevent costly breakdowns and promote safety. Pre-Trip and Post-Trip inspections should be performed personally and in a systematic way until it becomes natural and effortless.

While a Pre-Trip inspection is required, the Post-Trip inspection can be the most beneficial to running a business. The Post-Trip gives you the opportunity to make repairs during a scheduled stop at the end of the day instead of at the beginning of the day when you should be running. A Post Trip can compliment preserving your personal time and also can preserve your record for on-time service.

Ten Preventive Maintenance Tips You Can Do Yourself

1. Set aside a maintenance reserve fund based on the age of your tractor.  A major engine repair can cost you as much as $22,000 so don’t spend the funds from this account on other things because you think you have enough saved for maintenance. If you save too much and don’t have to use it, it’s still in the bank! Consider the guidelines below:

Age of Truck

Maintenance Savings


5 cents/mile

1 Year or 150,000 miles

6 cents/mile

2 Years or 300,000 miles

7 cents/mile

3 Years or 450,000 miles

8 cents/mile

4 Years or 600,000 miles

10 cents/mile

5 Years or 750,000+ miles

15 cents/mile

2. Get the correct maintenance manuals for your truck and its major components. Be sure that you have read them and understood them.

3. Obtain a quality Preventive Maintenance (PM) form and use it.  This form should be    customized for your truck and your type of work (long trips vs. short trips, light loads vs. heavy loads, on-road vs. off-road, etc.)

4. Commit to following the set intervals for your truck’s PM schedule.

5. Learn your truck’s grease points and grease your truck yourself.

  1. Grease is always cheaper than repair. “Lube it or lose it” is the way it works.  This is not the place to skimp so use high quality grease.
  2. You can set-up a weekly rotation to grease a small part of the truck on a certain day of the week. This makes a big job smaller and easier.
    1. It’s a small thing, but if you grease your own truck, wipe the dirt off of the zerks before pumping grease into them. If you don’t you’ll be pumping dirt into the joint.

6. Your driving will affect maintenance cost: 75 MPH vs. 65 MPH means that the engine and drive train components as well as brakes and suspension are all going to be working harder and they will wear out faster. Aggressive driving and high speeds cost you money – lots of money.

7. Check the oil level every day. Look for substances that shouldn’t be present like coolant or metal.

8. Check the tire air pressure for all tires with an air gauge, every day. When a breakdown happens the chances are really good that it will be related to tires and most of those tire failures are caused by simple under-inflation.

9. Cavitation will ruin your engine. Prevent cavitation damage by using the proper coolant and the proper coolant additive package.  Coolant additive test strips will tell you the quality of your coolant package. Do this yourself and don’t trust this critical inspection to the service technician. Not all coolant is the same so look in the engine owner’s manual for the proper coolant for your specific engine.

10. When buying tires or parts, make yourself acquainted with the warranty before you buy, then carry photocopies of the warranty and the receipt in the truck with you in case there are problems while over the road.


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