Should you do it yourself?
One of those jobs you might handle or turn over to a shop is changing transmission fluid. Dolce says you’ll need a pump to get the fluid back in through the side case of the transmission. Unless you’re willing to carry the pump in your truck, you’re better off taking it to a shop.
Owner-operators will save money changing lightbulbs and windshield wipers and fluid. On newer trucks that have LED lights, you’ll need a tool to change the light, Dolce says. To save more money, carry a headlight suited for your truck, bulbs and red and amber lenses.
If you’re changing out halogen lights, be careful not to touch the glass or the light won’t work, McClusky says. “I recommend drivers carry a can of electric contact cleaner and a tube of dielectric grease,” he says.
Another device to have to save money when changing lights is a wire splice kit. Says McClusky, “I saw where a place charged a driver $80 to change one light.”
Tools of the trade
To perform maintenance on the road, you’ll need to carry some basic tools.
Bill McClusky of ATBS recommends investing in a mechanic’s kit of pliers, screwdrivers, wrenches, electrical tape, dielectric grease, electrical contact cleaner, a tire depth tool and a tire pressure gauge. Also carry oil and fuel filters, a gel chemical for getting a frozen fuel line flowing, windshield wiper blades and arms, glad hand seals and gallon containers of diesel (store it outside the cab), oil and coolant.
To change oil and filters, you’ll use a spanner-type wrench to turn and loosen the filters, maintenance consultant John E. Dolce advises. If you encounter nuts, you’ll need a 0.5-inch drive socket and probably a long extension bar for leverage. Those same tools will help if you decide to change fan belts.