We get it, you really like that truck! You picked it out among many others and want to make it yours! But hey, there’s more to a truck besides its awesomeness, and you should definitely keep some things in mind before you drive it out of the yard! To help you make sure there won’t be any issues once you leave the yard, we prepared a checklist of things to check:
- Visual Walk Around
- Engine Inspection
- Tires and Brakes
- Fifth Wheel
- In Cab Inspection
Visual Walk Around
Since you already walked around the yard picking out your truck, we will only point out things that are out of the ordinary, such as rust. Rust may not be visible on the surface, so make sure to look under the truck too. Take your time to inspect items that affect the aerodynamics, such as broken wind deflectors, loose or missing side panels, etc., because these parts might affect your fuel efficiency by causing excess wind drag. Other items to consider for inspection are mirrors, doors, and windows.
Open the hood and check if there are any visible leaks. Check the underside of the truck to see if there are fluid stains on the ground. Inspect all the engine components, such as the alternator, hoses, wiring, water pump, and power steering pump. Pay close attention to the fluid levels and the coolant reservoir to ensure there are no contaminants, such as oil. These are the same techniques you should always use for your routine pre-trip inspections.
Once you have done a visual inspection, it is now time to start the engine. Some questions to ask yourself:
- How does the engine sound?
- Are there any knocking, ticking, rattles, thumps, squeals, or squeaks?
- Is the exhaust producing large amounts of white or grayish smoke?
- Does anything seem out of order otherwise?
If so, be very careful, as these issues could lead to very expensive problems down the road.
Tires and brakes
Checking the tires for a proper thread is very important. The tread depth on your steer tires should be 4/32 and 2/32 on your drive tires. You should also look to see if the tires are cracked or have any type of deformities on the inside or outside of the tire. Tires are one of the most important parts of the truck. If not properly inspected/maintained, tires could cause sudden blowouts that could lead to catastrophic events.
The brakes are one of the hardest working parts on the truck and should be inspected thoroughly. The brakes should not be overly worn and should be free of grease. Check the brake lines to be sure they are secure and have flex in them, also the airlines for leaks, glad hand seals, mechanical damage, and trailer slides.
The brakes should be checked inside and outside the cab.
Check shocks and look for any leakage. Look at tractor-drive tires for abnormal wear – this can indicate a bad suspension.
You should do a visual inspection of your frame to check if there are any cracks or welds that are out of the ordinary.
Inspecting the fifth wheel is necessary to ensure the lever mechanism works properly and is not excessively worn or warped.
Lights & Horn
Make sure all the lights are intact and in good working order, and the horn is working properly.
- Make sure all of your in-dash instruments are working.
- Check your driver’s side seat, is it working properly?
- Test your windows and door opening mechanism on both doors.
- Turn on the air conditioner/heater to make sure it is operational.
Do an air leak-down test to make sure you don’t have any air leaks. We recommend doing a thorough pre-trip inspection to confirm that everything is working within DOT standards.
How to properly check your engine oil
Your engine is the heartbeat that keeps your tractor rolling. Lubricants are vital to keeping them working properly, and knowing how and when to add them is also important. Your engine oil keeps all major engine components in good shape, and you must check your oil levels regularly!
So, let us show you how!
We recommend that you check your oil while your engine is warm. So, you can do so mid-trip or during your post-trip inspection.
You should turn your engine off and let the oil return back to the oil pan for an accurate reading. It takes around 5 minutes.
Things you will need are:
- Napkin or rag
Gloves are needed just in case you need to touch anything in the engine compartment or to prevent accidentally getting some oil on your hand.
Open the hood of your truck. Locate the engine oil dipstick. (This should be on the drivers’ side of the tractor)
Remove the dipstick, and pay close attention to the color and the smell. If the oil is creamy and has a lighter tan, it means you have water mixing with your oil, and you should seek immediate mechanic assistance. If your oil has a fuel aroma, this means that there are other contaminants in your oil, so you should seek a mechanic’s assistance as well.
Re-insert the dipstick after wiping it with a napkin or rag. Make sure it is still lodged in the same place it was when you started. Remove the dipstick and check the oil level. We recommend that you check the level at least twice and wipe the dipstick clean each time. Add oil as needed.
It is recommended to check oil levels EVERY DAY, during each post-trip inspection!