Commercial trucks require routine mechanical maintenance to run smoothly and avoid breakdowns, including belt, hose, line and tire inspection, brake system checks, engine tune-ups, fluid changes and more. Class 8 vehicles.in particular, require even more attention as heavy duty vehicles and the inherent safety risks should something fail.
Routine suspension system maintenance is also required, and it’s an important component that keeps trucks running safely and efficiently.
How Often a Suspension System Requires Maintenance
Suspension systems encompass the tires and up. These are the components that keep the truck “connected” to the road. Maintenance will include:
- Tire inflation checks every trip and with special attention each 1,000 to 3,000 miles
- Rotate and balance tires every 20,000 to 30,000 miles unless otherwise stated. Tractor tires experience different stresses and may require more frequent attention than trailer tires.
- Check power steering fluid levels at every oil change
- Wheel alignments every 50,000 to 60,000 miles
- Replace or retread tires as necessary (duration changes based on tire type)
These schedules are for semi-trucks and may vary for different truck classes.
When the wheels are being aligned, it’s important to have the suspension’s components checked for wear and tear. If there are signs of wear, have repairs made as soon as possible to keep the suspension running smoothly.
Some fleets will have their suspension checked every 15,000 miles as part of routine maintenance. The maintenance team should check for fasteners that are coming loose, signs of potential damage and an inspection of the shock absorbers
If the truck is leaking hydraulic fluid or there are signs of broken end connections or worn bushings, replacing the worn parts will reduce excess damage to the system.
The suspension system will begin to compensate when there are other issues with a rig, such as a truck’s valve adjustment being altered for a more comfortable ride. The adjustment may put more weight on the U-joints, causing damage over time.
It’s important that when repairs or an inspection are made, this information be recorded. The records allow you to better track problems and know what you can expect from your suspension over time. Working out a maintenance plan with a service provider, such as STTC, can capture this information on your fleet assets for you.
Why Suspension Systems are an Integral Part of Mechanical Maintenance
A truck’s suspension system ensures a smooth ride, reduces bumps, improves tire life and component reliability, allows for emergency maneuvers, good wet traction and safe turns to be performed. Suspension systems are critical for driver safety and comfort.
Well-operating suspensions also reduce the risk of cargo breaking in transit.
Modern suspensions require little maintenance to keep running properly, and a routine inspection helps fleet owners make rapid repairs while they’re still a small issue.
Suspension Wear is Usually a Result of Other Problems
Suspension systems are resilient, and when an issue does occur, it’s normally the result of another issue. Undue stress on the system’s components can occur when there’s uneven loading or torque on the system.
Having mismatched tread depths on your drive tires, for example, can cause excess wear and tear on the suspension (as well as the tires), leading to premature repairs and breakage.
Trucks that have been driven 400,000 to 500,000 miles will often have issues with the undercarriage, including loosening of bearings and bolts. Bushings may need to be replaced, and the assembly may loosen.
Torqueing the U-bolts initially and then every 50,000 miles when they’re new can help extend the lifespan of the bolts, too.
Proper mechanical maintenance will keep your fleet running smoothly for longer. Set a schedule for maintenance, log any inspections or issues that you have and make repairs as needed to keep your suspensions working properly.