Truck Care for the Summer Out There
Summer is in full swing, and with the unpredictable storm season fast approaching, there is no better time to revisit emergency plans and make sure your truck is running in peak condition.
In such a dynamic industry as road transport and freight, expecting the unexpected is part of day-to-day business—think accidents, route changes and systems failure—or worst-case scenario, a failed truck component. Combine the upcoming hot and wet weather with increased traffic and underprepared holiday motorists, and it’s the perfect mix for a whopping headache.
With higher than average wet conditions predicted for much of Australia’s northern and eastern regions due to this year’s La Niña phase, drivers should be prepared for wild weather and possible flooding.
Undertaking routine maintenance and a few extra checks can be an important part of emergency plans, avoiding roadside breakdowns, and keeping cargo, drivers and other road users safe.
Isuzu Australia Limited (IAL) Engineering Support Manager, Jeff Gibson, had some practical tips for truck owners working through the holidays.
“People are normally winding down around this time of year, but for many transport businesses, the summer means more work, not less.
“And with most interstate borders primed to open for domestic travel by Christmas, and no outbound international travel happening, our roads are sure to be busier than usual.
“While no means an exhaustive list, we recommend taking precautions to prevent any serious damage to your truck as part of your summer truck care plan—it doesn’t have to be complicated. Simple things like checking tires, brakes, filters and fluids can have a big impact on your safety and fuel efficiency, too.”
Mr Gibson offered this basic checklist for operators to consider before hitting the road.
Driveline and engine
Checking and changing oil filters and using high-quality oils are all sounds steps for preventing engine and driveline issues, said Mr Gibson.
“Now is the ideal time to check the engine oil, main filter and partial flow oil filter or combination.
“Identifying issues and replacing components now can avoid accelerated internal engine component wear, leading to downtime you can’t afford.”
Mr Gibson noted checking air filters was equally important, “Dirty or clogged air filters are one of the most commonly neglected service items and can cause problems in the engine combustion chamber, influencing power output.
“Air filters can be cleaned between replacements. If you’re doing a lot of driving on unsealed roads, then it’s good practice to change them more often as they impact a truck’s fuel efficiency and performance.”
Fluids, coolant & radiator
One of the most common problems encountered with heavy driving in the Australian summer is an overheated engine. Cooling systems have a rough time during summer and any problems with cracked hoses, leaks or even a loose radiator cap can cause an avoidable breakdown. However, the single most common issue is simply dirty, blocked radiator fins.
Mr Gibson recommended monitoring fluid and coolant levels and having a service provider thoroughly check the radiator, belts and hoses including a good clean of the radiator fins before getting stuck into the busy season.
Tyres, brakes & battery
Inspecting the condition of tyres, brakes and battery is critical for operators, Mr Gibson explained, with heat and humidity playing a role in wearing down components.
“Tyre pressure can change dramatically over the course of a day with a rise or drop in temperature. Our summer can be absolutely brutal with concrete and bitumen highways retaining heat, so it’s a good idea to check them before and after any long shifts.
“What many people are not aware of is that tyre pressures are one of the big contributors for high fuel consumption.
“Your tyres, and the brakes in turn, are also some of the most important features for maintaining safety on the truck. If you feel any change or hear a difference in sounds coming from them it needs to be looked at immediately, but you should be keeping this up as a top priority already.”
Batteries also react differently to extreme weather and can fault in various ways, whether it’s overcharging from the heat or grimy discharge from humidity, said Mr Gibson.
“If the battery is not running optimally the rest of the truck’s functions including air conditioning, headlights and windows, will be less than ideal.
“We all know how painful it is sitting in a vehicle without air-conditioning in the middle of summer… and when it’s a work vehicle, battery problems are even more frustrating costing you comfort, time and money for every minute spent in sub-par performance.”
This of course, leads to…
Maintaining air conditioning
There’s no getting around the fact that air conditioning is vital for survival during the Australian summer. Toughing it out with the windows down is simply not an option for a full day in the driver’s seat.
“Air conditioning has a big impact on your health and wellbeing,” said Mr Gibson.
“We would always recommend having your truck’s air conditioning professionally seen to if you notice changes in the air output or efficiency of the system, well before the serious heat hits.
“But aside from nailing down basic truck care, our main message for road users this summer is to be prepared,” Mr Gibson concluded.
“Check anything that’s been put aside or has been niggling you. Check your windshield wipers, carry some extra fluids and water with you and have your emergency plans in place. Take care of yourself, and your truck on the road this summer.”