By John L. Hruska
When owning trucks and trailers, the expense of proper repairs and upkeep can be overwhelming, I’ve found that keeping good maintenance records is a key to healthy, profitable equipment.
First and foremost, come up with a plan on how to format your maintenance records and how to keep them neat and legible. I typically use a spreadsheet with separate columns for date, mileage and repairs performed. If you don’t have a computer you can always use a hard back ledger book from an office supply store. Once you have this, separate the file or book into different categories. The categories that I use are as follows: General Repairs, Filters, Suspension, Air System, Tires, Wheel Ends, Electrical, Hoses and Belts, AC / Heater, and Major Components. Keeping your maintenance records organized makes it easier to have them readily available when you need them.
Now that you have a place to record your repairs, you’ve taken the first step to better maintenance. When repairs are performed, enter the date, mileage, what repairs and parts have been replaced and who did the work. It’s also important to record where you purchased the new parts. A new part typically carries some sort of warranty (check with your dealer). If the part fails, your dealer should stand behind it for a period of time. It’s also a good idea to keep your sales receipt. Your receipt can prove when you bought the part and can be the difference between paying again or getting a new one under warranty. Warranty parts are always a good thing, we don’t pay for them.
As time goes by, your records will prove to be a great tool. After a few repairs you can look back on different parts like brake lining, tires, or even brake drums. At this point you can do a little of your own analysis, like calculating the cost per mile on your part. To do this, take the price of the part and divide it by the number of miles that you used that part for. Now you can realize what your cost per mile is on that particular part. Sometimes you will find that a cheaper, up front cost is not always the cheapest overall cost in the long term.
Good maintenance records are always a big plus when you’re ready to sell your truck as well. When a prospective buyer or dealer gets a look at the past few years of your trucks repair history this helps you to get a better trade or sale price for your truck.
Lastly, I think it is also important to keep a copy of regular oil analysis in your record file. In my opinion oil sampling, also called oil analysis, can be a very valuable piece of information to have. It is like blood work for your engine; if you do this on a regular basis you can see the trends of wear metals, carbons and soots. You can also catch a potential failure such as water or fuel in your oil, which can be very harmful to your engine if not caught early.
To sum it up, good maintenance records are one of the most valuable tools on your work bench. They can help you to see the true cost of the parts and services that you purchase. If used correctly, good maintenance records can save you money and help you to take better care of your asset.
John’s father started in the trucking business in 1947, John then joined the business in 1981. He owns and operates Hruska Trucking and Diesel Transport along with his business partner and brother-in-law, Clark D Hofecker, in Windber, PA.