Summer Truck Maintenance Made Easy - with Lou Charette
Summer is very obviously here, so we wanted to remind everyone of some basic summer maintenance to keep your truck in top working order! We once again turned to our Head of Maintenance, Lou Charette and he shared the regular maintenance tasks drivers should consider this season. Please keep in mind, while you can probably check some of these items yourself, you may need to talk to a paid mechanic for others.
In the summer we focus on staying cool, and your focus for your truck should be the same. Make sure that you understand the basic mechanics of the cooling system, as that is one of the first things to go out during these hot months. To inspect the system look for the following.
Check the Radiator
Does the radiator have visible wear? Does the radiator cap look to be in good condition? How is the coolant? Is the pressure in the coolant system holding constant?
The coolant in most of these systems is designed to be replaced at least once a year. Check with your regular mechanic to determine if you are due for a coolant flush. When you flush the coolant it is also a good idea to replace your radiator cap. The hoses and lines that run to your radiator also need to be checked. Do this when the engine is cold (or cool after a long break). If you feel soft spots in the hose it is a good sign it is close to breaking in that section. Most hoses need to be replaced every three years, but it could be more or less depending on how you run your truck.
Look for Issues With the Water Pump
Leaks in your water pump can cause the entire engine to fail in short order. The water pump, along with the radiator is the heart of the engine. If the water pump can't circulate the coolant from the radiator then the engine will overheat and the pump will not be able to return the warmed coolant back to the radiator. Eventually all water pumps go out, but noticing issues with your water pump early on will save you from replacing any secondary engine parts. One of the easiest indicators of the health of your water pump is the temperature of the engine. Try to watch this number and if you see it gradually warming over time, it might be time to talk to your mechanic about a replacement.
Check the Air Conditioner
No one wants to be trapped without air conditioning. Yes, we had you check this in the spring, but it is still good to check it is working properly throughout the summer months. The coils on your air conditioning unit can easily collect debris and buildup and cause damage to the system. Keep these coils as clean as you can and talk to your mechanic if you see anything change.
Examine the Belts
The heat of the summer months does a number on the belts in your engine, so it is good to make sure they stay in good working order. Generally belts need to be replaced every one to two years. Make a habit of knowing how your engine looks when it is in good working order so that you can detect changes early on. You don't have to be a diesel mechanic to visually see that something isn't right. Being proactive can save you a lot of money.
Check Battery Connections
Extreme temperatures, either hot or cold, are hard on the battery connections. Inspect these connections regularly and use a small wire brush to remove any debris that inhibits a strong connection.
Inspect Your Wires
Electrical failures seem to happen more in the summer months. Check your electrical connections by following each wire to ensure it is intact and secure as well as ensuring it isn't rubbing against any rough parts of the engine as this could cause the wire to fail.
Watch Tire Pressure
As the temperature of the pavement rises, the pressure in your tires gets higher because air inside the tires expands and rises. We've seen tires go up as much as 16 psi during the hottest months.
The best time to check tire pressure is when the tire is cool (after a period of resting the truck). Plan to check your pressures regularly, and even more if you are traveling in areas with extreme temperature fluctuations.
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!