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The Heat Is On: Check Your Diesel Fleet Prior to Summer Driving

Diesel-truck operation owners know summer will place a heavy burden on the various systems incorporated into their rigs. Excess heat can cause breakdowns or lead to damage requiring expensive repairs. It is important to recognize, too, that as summer approaches vehicles are coming off a long winter of cold temperatures and unforgiving roads. As a result, fleet owners should take steps to prepare their vehicles for the summer season.

Don’t Spread Your Oil Too Thin

Because engine oil deteriorates and becomes filled with contaminants over time, compare your truck’s mileage with the manufacturer service guidelines to make certain you are on schedule. Also, note whether the oil in your trucks are the proper viscosity to handle the temperature ranges they will encounter in the coming months.

Avoid a Meltdown

Because summer driving will make demands on the truck’s cooling system, it is crucial to check the condition of the coolant. When a diesel engine operates, the coolant is tasked with removing a significant portion of the heat it generates; if the coolant has deteriorated or the level is low, the radiator may be in danger of boiling over at any point in a long drive. The coolant also provides additional lubrication and corrosion resistance to any engine components it contacts. If trucks have required the addition of antifreeze over the winter, check that the cooling system holds a mixture of 50% water to 50% coolant, the optimal combination.

Also, examine the cooling system hoses – along with drivetrain belts – since winter cold and driving miles may have made them brittle and prone to rupturing or splitting.

Take Charge of Your Batteries

Batteries are another crucial wear item that needs to be inspected as part of routine diesel truck maintenance. Wear is an apt term since summer heat increases the corrosion rate of batteries’ internal grids, as air conditioner use, electronics charging, and other external (parasitic) electrical draws decrease the starting power of the battery over time – especially after many hard winter starts.

Keep Your Cool

Since your drivers will need to travel in a comfortable climate, check the air conditioner. A truck service center can pressure test the system for leaks. Units that were used rarely over the winter can display cracking seals, gaskets, and tubing.

Take Care When the Rubber Hits the Road

Be certain your drivers do not suffer a blowout. Checking tires is critical at this time, since winter road conditions and changes in temperature cause worn tires with pressure variations. As temperature rises, a tire that had been set to the proper pressure will be overinflated.

These are a few crucial, minimal maintenance checks to make before the summer season. However, these items should be part of an overall maintenance routine. Using a certified fleet maintenance company will ensure you do not leave your drivers stranded whatever the season.

 

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