We keep waiting to post a spring checklist because it hasn't felt much like spring here in South Dakota. However, with the weather finally perking up a bit, we sat down with our Head of Maintenance, Lou Charette and asked what regular maintenance tasks drivers should prioritize in this season. Some of these will be items you can easily check yourself, others may require paid shop help, but all are important.
Finish Body Work
Spring is a great time to deal with unfinished or new body work. Address any ongoing issues and fix any additional problems that may have cropped up due to the chloride and salt on winter roads.
Fix or Replacing Windows
No one wants to replace a windshield in the dead of winter or the heat of summer. Do yourself a favor and take care of existing rock chips in your windshield before they spider into large cracks.
Try Your Air Conditioner
Summer is hard on your battery. Be sure to check your battery in spring and give your air conditioner a trial run to make sure it is ready for the warm days (and nights) ahead. If you don't already have an APU installed on your truck, consider installing one. You can save a lot of fuel and engine wear with lower idle times.
Check Fans, Belts and Pulleys
Hot temperatures are hard on belts and pulleys. Spring is the perfect time to make sure they are in good working condition. If you don't know how to look for wear, ask a trusted mechanic to look it over. They may even be able to teach you how to spot problems early on.
Look for Winter Damage
In addition to body damage, winter roads can wreak havoc on your engine, chassis and wiring connections. These issues can sometimes go unnoticed, but almost always lead to a bigger problem.
Check Your Tires
If you had your tires set to 110 during the winter or early spring and haven't checked them recently, now is the time. Warming temperatures cause the air pressure in your tires to rise.
Overinflated tires can cause a loss of traction and create a harsher ride, both for you and your expensive cargo. Eventually, over or under-inflated tires will create an uneven wear pattern which will shorten the life of your tires.
It is also a good idea to check on the tread of your tires. If you notice they are starting to show wear, be proactive and order new tires so you aren't stranded under load.
Turn Off Tank Fuel Heaters
While most rigs have tank heaters that turn off automatically, some do not. If you aren't sure about your heater, now is a good time to learn more.
Keep Up With Antifreeze
Yes, that's right. Antifreeze isn't just for the winter. There are other protective chemicals in antifreeze that protect your engine and help it to run smoothly even in warm months. Don't skimp on the anti-freeze.
Get Ready for Road Check
Another great motivator for spring maintenance is the annual Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance's Road Check in late spring. The 2019 Road Check (June 4-6) is focused on steering and suspension systems, but all systems are inspected.
If you've never been through a CVSA Road Check, you should know that it is a widespread North American inspection of commercial vehicles set to take place over a 72 hour period in early June. Certified inspectors will primarily perform standard Level 1 Inspections, although some may opt for a Level II, III or IV.
This inspection, like other road inspections looks at items such as: brake systems; cargo securement; coupling devices; driveline/driveshaft; driver’s seat (missing); exhaust systems; frames; fuel systems; lighting devices (headlamps, tail lamps, stop lamps, turn signals and lamps/flags on projecting loads); steering mechanisms; suspensions; tires; van and open-top trailer bodies; wheels, rims and hubs; and windshield wipers.
This article is part of a running series on truck maintenance over the seasons. If you would like to stay up to date when we post new information, checklists, or tips and tricks, sign up by clicking below!