The best accessory item to include on any heavy truck is a quick connect to allow an air line to be attached. The most obvious use would be to facilitate attaching an air line to inflate tires on an at needed basis. Perhaps, the existence of a quick connect and available compressed air would encourage weekly maintenance of tire pressures. The benefit of improved fuel efficiency and prolonged tire life comes to mind. A flat tire is the third most common cause of Out of Service during government Truck inspections. A quick connect would put the truck back in service if there is not an audible air leak or visible damage to the tire. This quick connect could also be used to inflate the air system with another truck in the fleet, in the event the truck does not start, and the mechanic wishes to tow the truck from yard, to the shop. With the air pressure up, the brakes can be released, and the truck towed. Fire departments have utilized this method to keep air tanks on fire trucks aired-up and ready to respond to emergencies for decades. So, consider adding a quick connect to the air system next time the truck is in the shop for maintenance.
In our current economy, with rising prices for fuel, many truck owner/operators and fleet managers seek out ways to reduce costs. Extending service intervals is one that is considered most frequently. Skipping a service completely is not a good idea and in time will lead to negative results. But what choice do they have? Instead of skipping service intervals completely, Operators should consider using a top tier Oil and extending drain intervals but change filters at regular service intervals. The oil analysis utilized by many shops is little more than a litmus paper test to find the existence of antifreeze in the oil. While that test is important, it does not indicate whether the oil has life left as a lubricant and detergents still viable for service in the crankcase. Most engines in tractors hauling heavy freight have crankcase capacities of over 40 Litres (quarts). Good oil will cost between $10 - $15 / litre (quart). To drain this amount of oil while still viable service life exists is to throw a lot of money away. An independent Lab that is set up to test oil for contamination along side lubricating qualities and detergent viability would cost about $50. This is by far less costly than an oil drain and refill costing close to $500. Replacing filters and lubricating ball and socket joints and other grease fittings on trucks and trailers with a synthetic grease should be the minimum preventative maintenance performed. This will help reduce costs and keep rolling inventory working and making money.
Tires will lose air pressure in extreme cold. This is not the time of year to be sitting roadside with a flat tire. So, when is the last time you checked tire pressure on your truck and trailer? Many trucks these days have TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems). Most trailers do not. Company owners would spend wisely to add TPMS to trailers as they need to replace tires. A good TPMS will pay for itself in saved fuel and maintenance costs within about 2 years. Fact is – if a Fleet Manager can maintain 70 percent of their fleet within 5 percent of ideal tire pressure, they are in the top tier of maintenance (if brakes and steering components are maintained as well.)