Why do maintenance shops give the most important Preventive Maintenance jobs to the newest member or least experienced person on the team? I am talking about oil and filter changes done together with greasing ball and socket joints, leaf spring ends and air brake self adjusters and other related parts. To the well experienced mechanic the job of greasing a vehicle is the most important Preventive Maintenance function that can be performed. It starts with a good quality grease. I prefer a synthetic grease because it will resist the absorption of water, and it will withstand extreme temperatures better than a soap or clay-based grease.
The mechanic who takes pride in his work will be on the look-out for grease fittings that will not allow for grease to enter the part and other defects along the way. For example, wheel bearing oil seals that allow lubricating oil to drip onto brake friction materials; cracks in the frame at suspension points and other stress areas; loose U-bolts attaching axles to leaf springs; loose brake chambers; insecure air tanks; holes at curved portions of exhaust pipes, to name a few points that can be quickly repaired before they turn into costly downtime. During my apprenticeship years there was an Instructor at Trade School that commented – “if you watch a mechanic work for about 15 minutes you will learn a lot about what he knows and his work ethic.” How true that comment has proven to be over the years.
The inexperienced apprenticing mechanic should first be assigned to make some of the repairs listed in the paragraph above. That way, the apprentice learns what to look for as defects. As the apprentice becomes experienced and knowledgeable, he can then be assigned to perform inspections looking for preventive maintenance items incorporated with lubrication operations. The manager who sees an oil change and grease job as a result instead of a process is missing out on truly servicing a customer’s needs. There is no wonder that many owner/operators have chosen to perform their own oil and filter changes. Those same owner/operators will go under their truck and trailer with a hand grease gun between oil and filter changes and inspect their rig, while they are at it! The benefit is in more trouble free miles.