While it does vary from one company to the next, the average truck driver travels upwards of 3,000 miles a week. Summer travel can be stressful as construction projects kick into gear, so there can be more delays due to detours and lane closures. The last thing any truck driver wants to deal with is having a truck break down in the middle of all of this.
What can you do to prepare your rig for summer travel? Here are ten tips for making sure your truck is ready for summer hauls.
Have the AC System Tested
The last thing you want is to be out on the road on the hottest day of the year and find your AC isn’t working. You don’t want to be trying to sleep and find it’s just too hot. Have it tested and charged if needed. Make sure there are no leaks that are causing your rig’s AC to run inefficiently.
Inspect and Replace Tires
Never take off on a run without having checked tire pressure and tread. If tire pressure on a specific tire is consistently low, find out why. Is the rim bent? Is there a small hole? The low tread is a sign that it’s time to replace a tire. Don’t wait until a tire goes bald and could potentially blow while you’re on the interstate at top speed.
Check Your Rig’s Fluid Levels
All fluid levels should be checked before you leave. This includes oil, windshield washer fluid, transmission fluid, braking fluid, coolant, and power steering fluid. If any levels are low, top them up. Make sure that the levels aren’t low due to a small leak.
Inspect the Braking System
The FMCSA keeps a list of the factors tied to large truck crashes. Brake problems account for 29% of those crashes. Test the brakes and check brake lines for corrosion or leaks. Any possible issues must be repaired before you go out on the roads. Once repaired, the repairs also need to be double-checked for leaks or problems to ensure the repair or replacement is holding.
Test All Lights
Do a full test of all lights. This includes headlights, brake/tail lights, turn lights, hazards, and parking lights. If a bulb is out, replace it. If you find the headlights are clouded over and not illuminating enough area or the alignment is off, have that fixed.
Make Sure GPS Systems Work Effectively
If you rely on GPS to get from Point A to Point B, make sure the maps are updated and that your GPS device is charged before you head out. You might want to have a secondary system on a phone just in case you’re finding your GPS isn’t providing updated map information like detours or shorter routes that are closed to big rigs.
Inspect the Windshield and Wipers
Check windshields for chips and cracks. If you see anything, have it repaired now. If you wait, that chip or crack could end up spreading to the entire windshield and impact your vision.
You also want to check that your wiper blades are in good shape and that they work. If a wiper blade needs replacing, do it now. You don’t want to be out in heavy rain and find your blades are unable to clear enough water to make sure you’re able to see.
As you add windshield cleaning fluid, look for a formula that can remove bug splats and that adds a protective coating that causes rain to bead up and roll off for better visibility.
Pack Emergency Supplies
Have an emergency kit ready just in case. If a mudslide or weather event leaves you stuck on a road for hours or even a day. You want to have non-perishable foods, water bottles, and reflective rain gear if you have to leave your rig. Flares and reflective triangles are handy if you go off the road. A fully-charged power bank is a good idea for keeping your phone charged.
Verify That Licenses, Insurance, and Permits Are Valid
Before summer’s deliveries pick up, take a few hours to make sure your CDL licenses are in place and not due to expire soon. If it is, you can renew it now and check that off your list. Make sure your insurance hasn’t lapsed and that any permits you hold are still in effect. If not, take some time to remedy those issues and get everything updated.
Drive With Safety in Mind
Finally, make sure you’re always driving with safety in mind. Summer hauls often mean more drivers are on the road for vacations, teens are out of school and having fun in the summer months, and animals have usually had babies by now, so you might find mama animals getting their babies across busy highways. Be alert and ready to react.
If you’re tired, take a break. Driver fatigue accounts for 13% of accidents. Pull off where it’s safe and walk around or do something that gets your blood flowing. Jumping jacks and jogging or marching in place are helpful aerobic activities to recharge your energy.
Plan for the Unexpected
One more thing to consider is that even with the utmost care in preventative maintenance, issues can and will arise. If your rig breaks down unexpectedly, have a plan in place to cover the cost of emergency repairs. A strong cash flow is essential for this reason.
How do you make sure you have cash in hand to cover unplanned expenses? If you haven’t looked into freight factoring, it’s time to explore the benefits. A traditional payment system involves taking your bills of lading, spending time printing out or creating invoices, mailing or emailing those invoices, and waiting for a shipper or broker to pay you.
If your client doesn’t pay bills more often than once a month, you could wait weeks for payment to arrive. Some clients haven’t embraced online payment systems, or you might not have had the time or means to set up online payments. If you’re still getting checks in the mail, the USPS isn’t as quick as it used to be. You also have the time it takes for your bank to clear the check with your client’s bank. It could be over a month before you get paid.
While you’re waiting on payments, a truck breaks down and you don’t have the money in hand to cover repairs. That takes that rig off the road. You now have to adjust the loads you can take until you have that truck back. A month of lost loads can impact your revenue and become a major headache in trying to keep your clients happy.
Get Paid Now
Stop the traditional invoicing routine and move to freight factoring. After picking up or delivering a load, submit your bill of lading to Saint John Capital. We’ll pay you a percentage or all of the money you’re owed, minus a minimal service fee. If you request payment when you pick up a load, you’ll get 50% of the money due. The balance is paid (minus the fee) after you deliver the load. Otherwise, you can wait until you’ve delivered the load and get the full amount minus the fee.
Set up a freight factoring account with Saint John Capital and get paid the same day or shortly after. For same-day payments, you need to have an SJC card and submit your bill of lading by noon EST. Even if you miss that deadline or don’t have the SJC card, payments are sent to your bank and in your hands within a few business days. Imagine not having to wait weeks or months to get paid anymore! It’s possible with freight factoring.