Truck Maintenance – Is it really the driver’s responsibility?

The success of any freight company is solidly based on the quality and dependability of both its drivers and its fleet of trucks. While the quality of the driver is very much an individual thing, the dependability of the fleet is more of a team effort. That being said, when something goes wrong and a truck breaks down then it’s the driver who is immediately impacted. This is especially true when the trucker is an independent driver and is paid per delivery rather than a fixed salary.

Seeing as the driver is the one who is primarily impacted by the maintenance of the truck how much involvement should he have with the maintenance? He may feel that he is employed to drive the truck and nothing more. After all, the mechanics back at the depot don’t fill in for him when he is unable to drive. That may be true but it is still in his best interests to involve himself as much as possible in the maintenance process. How can he do this?

The mechanics that do the repairs and maintenance on the trucks often follow a routine maintenance schedule when deciding which truck parts to replace and which to repair. They will then check for any obvious repairs that need to be done in addition to this. Beyond this, it is difficult for them to know what else may be wrong. They can use all kinds of diagnostic equipment but in the end it’s the driver who is in the best position to give them good feedback.

Hours on the road behind the wheel make it possible for the truck driver to get a real feel for his truck. As soon as something out of the ordinary happens he can generally feel it even if a passenger along for the ride may not know it. It’s a great idea for a truck driver to have a notebook close at hand so that he can log any unusual noises, vibrations or warning lights as soon as he experiences them. Trusting your memory is a bad idea. When you get to your destination and start unloading you might get so busy that you quickly forget about the issue you had on the road.

Once back at the depot the driver can give some good feedback to the truck maintenance crew and this will be invaluable in their efforts to keep the truck in the best possible shape. Now they are in a position to check things that they may not have thought to look at. Very often this kind of feedback has led maintenance crew to finding the early tell-tale signs of what could become a big problem on the road. Good, open communication between truck drivers and the mechanics that keep the wheels rolling is an essential part of a successful trucking company.

Trucking and freight haul may be a lonely job up front in the cabin but it is essentially a team sport. Much like Formula 1 racing, winning the race comes down to having a good driver, a good car and a good pit team. When the driver takes the responsibility to give feedback and involve himself in the maintenance process then the best results are experienced.