Stay ahead of the inspectors with maintenance topics in Overdrive

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Updated Apr 18, 2023

Updated April 18, 2023, to reflect include the most current maintenance-related coverage.

truck belt maintenanceKeeping a close eye on belts and hoses is critical as they wear to avoid a catastrophic failure.Maintenance-related violations are by far the biggest single contributor to the Motor Carrier Management Information System database that underpins the CSA scoring system, accounting for on the order of 70-plus percent of the total violations contained therein. While you can’t influence how bad a roadside or weigh-station inspector’s day has been before you see them, you can make the inspection easy by not taking any chance on whether your rig will pass muster.

[Related: POLL: Are you getting Roadcheck-ready?]

The following collection of Overdrive articles offers tips on maintenance of lights, brakes and other common areas of equipment failure and inspectors’ priority. Use these resources as you need them to help prepare yourself for the road ahead.

Peruse the latest updates in the CSA’s Data Trail series, including information on vehicle violation priorities, via the category page. 

Overdrive‘s Partners in Business manual contains a wealth of maintenance-related material, including the dedicated maintenance chapter. Find plenty more outside the manual in the PIB series of stories via this link.

From our 2017 used-truck series find tips on what to inspect in a used truck.

Tires and brakes

Tire wear patterns telling of overall truck maintenance
Tire safety risks can rise with the temperature
The five most common reasons wheel seals fail -- and other wheel-end resources
Proper wheel end play the difference between bearing life and loose wheels
Newly updated: The CCJ air-brake ebook 
An assist for avoiding brake-adjustment violations
Dramatic, disastrous wheel-off incidents: A new way to prevent
Winter tire management for greater tread life
The team effort for owners, shops to combat brake 'rustjacking'
Prime time for air disc brakes
Keeping brake adjusters in their groove
Auto-slacks: To adjust or not to adjust?
Tread pattern, compounding, maintenance considerations in-depth
The skinny on maintaining brakes to reduce cost, downtime
Data underlies benefits of low-rolling-resistance tires
Tire spec’ing, retreading for life-cycle cost containment

How-to: Build a closed greasing system

How-to: Replacing brake linings and more
How-to: DIY tire maintenance
CSA and Tire Basics
Spec’ing tires
Preventing tire/brake failure
Avoiding top tire killers
CSA and tire basics
Tire pressure and load

Lights and electrical systems

The long and short on advancements in AGM batteries
Using solar to protect batteries, reduce idling
Inexpensive fix for more secure trailer-pigtail connection
Combating heat’s toll on your batteries
When your dead starter is really a bad cable: Modern electrical system PM
Test-driving a pair of LED headlamps
LEDs for long lamp life
Lighting plug and socket PM
How-to: Aim headlights for enhanced visibility
Electrical system PM
How-to: Maintain fuses
How-to: Maintain batteries
How-to: Replace alternator
Preventing battery drain
Preventing power divider failure
How-to: Upgrade headlamps for longevity

Power- and drivetrain

Manual v. automated: Making the transmission selection
Understanding your engine’s warning-lamp language
What’s to know about downspeeding engines in combo with the right transmission
PM fringe benefits: Long miles to overhaul or repower
Engine tinkerers, beware: Ins and outs of ECM retunes
How-to: Extend oil drain intervals safely
New oils hit the market in December 2016: Know what you’re buying
Liner protrustion and why it’s critical
An alternative to the standard dyno

How-to: Save the turbo with clean oil, good driving habits
Crankshaft damper PM
Torque ratings and maintenance/economy
How-to: Transmission and axle PM
2010 engines
How-to: Change oil
Synthetic oil
Overhauling the engine
Oil viscosity
How-to: Maintain steering

Air system

Winter pre: Air dryer maintenance
How-to: Detect air leaks
Preventing air pressure loss
How-to: Replace gladhand seals

Emissions systems

Deleting emissions problems without deleting the entire system
Emissions systems, while improved, still problematic for some owners
Emissions maintenance: Getting the correct diagnosis/repair the first time
3 ways to extend DPF life and keep filters running cleaner
Dealing with diesel aftertreatment demons
Learning your engine's lamp language
Emissions systems: Don’t ‘drive through the lights’
Emissions systems: Newer trucks’ potential handicap
The high cost of emissions-system maintenance
Proper DPF care

Trailers and other topics

Thorough winter prep to avoid downtime
Long-term maintenance value of a parts donor truck for hands-on mechanics
Should I use diesel additives in the winter?
Coolant hoses improved, but old wear sources persist
Fuel additives — efficacy, trends — at the pump and away
Alternative climate control custom option has heat, too
Cost-effective APU alternative for A/C
Next-gen oil bypass filtration and fuel additives
Preventing convex mirror cracks in winter
Primer on trailer PM
PM and inspection tips for suspension, steering components
Spring cleaning: Extra steps to effectively remove road salt to prevent corrosion
Using your reefer unit and separate condenser for cool cab air
Alternative to greasing hood supports: Old socks
How-to: Build custom walk-in storage at front of a dry van
Broken leaf spring: Lessons from the pothole that swallowed my truck
Don’t neglect lonely lube points
Invest in equipment inspections now to save money, hassle later
Wiper assemblies, blade maintenance
Custom-designed dump trailer for bulk application
Hoses and belts: Avoiding premature failure, maximizing life
9 maintenance items many owner-operators don’t have
How-to: Maintain suspension
How-to: Maintain landing gear
How-to: Beat corrosion
Spec’ing trailers for durability
How-to: Service reefer unit
Preventing broken belts/clamps/hoses

Enforcement — Toughest states for maintenance violations:

**CSA's Data Trail: Download the latest, 2022 comprehensive update for the latest 48-state rankings in a variety of maintenance categories
**Tires/brakes considered together
**Where violations overall are most likely, including maintenance-heavy states

The Business Manual for Owner-Operators
Overdrive editors and ATBS present the industry’s best manual for prospective and committed owner-operators. You’ll find exceptional depth on many issues in the 2022 edition of Partners in Business.
Partners in Business Issue Cover