The top technical trucking tips and tricks of 2019

John G Smith

TORONTO, Ont. – Whether you’re looking to improve shop efficiency, prevent wheel fires, tackle trailer wiring issues, or get the most from your oil, we’re always on the lookout for technical information that could help to guide your operation.

Here’s a selection of some of the trucking tips, tricks and guidance that Today’s Trucking delivered during 2019.

Maximize the benefits of cruise control

Going back to its earliest incarnation, cruise control meant tugging on a dash- or floor-mounted mechanical throttle extension cable and giving it a twist to lock it in position. It set the engine to a given rpm and allowed the truck to cruise along at a given speed on level ground. Modern day cruise control works essentially the same way, but with the added benefit of eyes and brains. … more

Protect air systems in cold temperatures

Cold temperatures and water can lead to only one outcome, and ice has no place in a truck’s air system. Frozen moisture can disable compressors, along with any of the multitude of air valves in the system. Plunging temperatures will be put air systems to the test. … more

When to consider a fuel additive

Canadian fleets have few advantages over their American counterparts, but overall we have a better quality of diesel fuel than they do, and it’s chemically more consistent across the country. In the U.S., fuel quality can vary considerably from region to region and from supplier to supplier — even from truckstop to truckstop. … more

Make the case for (significantly) older trucks

It might be presumptive to call it a movement, but some owner-operators and small fleets are turning to (significantly) older iron rather than the typical five-year-old, million-kilometer used truck. … more

Prevent wheel fires

Wheel end fires, while uncommon, are not rare. They usually make the papers and the TV news websites, though. They can produce dramatic footage of thick black smoke and flames consuming an entire trailer – and the tractor, if the ­driver can’t get the two units unhooked fast enough. … more

Get the most out of your oil

Through a combination of design changes to the engines to meet the GHG17 standards, new oil formulations, and a recognition that different applications and duty cycles affect the oil differently, owners of newer trucks running recommended lubricants can run out to far as 97,000 km when a sampling program is followed. … more

Develop a slick oil program for your fleet

Stocking oil in the shop, preventing cross-contamination and spills (not to mention misfills), can be a challenge. Spills can create hazards and inefficiencies, and misfills can damage equipment if quickly not identified. Maintenance operations can reduce the risk of all of the above by first consolidating product, whenever possible. … more

Improve shop efficiency without compromising quality

Do you want to save time and money on fleet maintenance operations? Then dig deep to find the root cause of your problems and take full advantage of all the technology at your disposal to solve them. And don’t forget to use a little imagination along the way. … more

Platform lifts
Platform lifts allow easy access to the entire undercarriage. These can also be combined in tandem for a platform that can accommodate an entire tractor-trailer.

Pick a lift that delivers productivity, safety

Using lifts in your shop instead of floor jacks, jack stands, creepers and pits makes an undeniable difference in productivity. The systems provide more convenient and comfortable access to every part of a truck that needs service. That lets technicians get more work done in less time, and with a lower chance of injury. … more

Manage wheel maintenance

Wheels do not require much maintenance, but they do suffer their share of problems. From the damage during tire service, to cracking and bending from daily wear and tear — and corrosion — your wheels are under constant attack. Recognizing that wheels won’t last forever is the first step in improving service life, followed by diligent inspections for wear and damage every time the wheels come off the truck. … more

Wheel damage uncovered after time in a blasting cabinet
Damage that went unnoticed under the previous coating is exposed after the coating is stripped away in a blasting cabinet.

Save money through wheel refinishing

Nasty-looking wheels, all covered with rust and cracked paint, are pretty well an invitation to a roadside DOT inspection. Rusty wheels may not reflect the attention to detail your fleet usually brings to the maintenance game, but they don’t send the right message to the creeper cops. For about half the cost of a new steel wheel, refinishing is a cost-effective alternative to new wheels. … more

Trailer connectors that remain plugged into their sockets most of the time are not immune to corrosion. It may be even worse if you operate where corrosive de-icing fluids are used.

5 ways to avoid trailer wiring problems

Until someone develops a cable-free electrical system for vehicles, we’re stuck with wires. And wires are generally not a problem until some outside force disturbs or damages them. They are subject to chaffing from contact with nearby surfaces, or even from within the wiring harness itself, and the insulation can crack with old age. Once the insulation breaks open and moisture gets in, it’s all over but the shouting. … more

Maintain medium-duty trucks

Don’t let the size of a truck fool you. Medium-duty trucks are dwarfed by their Class 8 counterparts, but such equipment can present some of the biggest challenges for a repair facility. … more

Perform an effective tire test

Running an accurate tire test isn’t a matter of simply throwing on new rubber and tracking fuel receipts. A true test requires at least 30 wheel positions to remain at the end of the test, and the use of a control fleet. … more

Make the right wheel-end adjustments

The tolerable end-play for truck wheel bearings lies somewhere between the thickness of a human hair and a sheet of paper. Various sources put the diameter of an average strand of hair at 0.001 inches and a sheet of standard office paper at 0.005 inches. In other words, it’s perfectly acceptable to adjust wheel bearings so that they are just a little bit loose, but not too loose. … more

Avoid brake violations

An unannounced Brake Safety Day enforcement initiative by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) on April 25 saw 13.8% of inspected commercial vehicles placed out of service for brake violations. We caught up to brake guru Kevin Pfost — formally technical services coordinator, Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake — for his insights into brake maintenance best practices. … more

Choose a transmission for heavy hauls

All the power in the world won’t get you anywhere if your transmission can’t manage it properly. Startability and gradeability are the two key factors in powertrain spec’ing, which means getting the power to the wheels safely — without wrecking the driveline — and having several ratios to keep the truck moving while climbing. … more




John G Smith

John G. Smith is the editorial director of Newcom Media's trucking and supply chain publications -- including Today's Trucking,, TruckTech, Transport Routier, Inside Logistics, Solid Waste & Recycling, and Road Today. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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