Driving down I-77 yesterday behind a tanker, we noticed that each of the four mudflaps had a different trucking emergency service listed.  It made me worry about the truck.  How many times has it been serviced? What do those truck maintenance records look like?

Breakdowns on the Road

At any given point during my time as a fleet owner, I was often one breakdown away from shutting down my business.  If there wasn’t enough cash in my account to pay for a hefty repair, I would sell the truck instead of paying for the work.

As I look back on that time, I realize I made a number of mistakes that many owner-operators make when they get started.  Choosing to do accounting based on the cash in hand rather than accounts receivable often put me in a bind when the invoices weren’t paid quickly.  Sometimes I had to use a factoring service to get the funds for fuel to haul a load.  But the breakdown on the road could kill me.

I’m not the type to do my own repairs and maintenance on my truck.  When I was home, I wanted to be with my kids, not in the garage.  It was worth it to me to pay a mechanic to keep up my rigs.  You can’t always plan on emergencies, though.  Who hasn’t driven on tires that probably should have been replaced?  Blow outs happen, right?

Yep, they do.  But I could have avoided that blow out by knowing how long I’d had those tires on the rig.  That’s when I started taking my truck maintenance records a lot more seriously.  Instead of just tracking my repairs, now I was going to keep an eye on those tires – and that transmission, and the coolant – and all the others maintenance items on the checklist.

Financing Truck Repairs

It’s never convenient to have to pay for the on the road repair.  You know it’s going to be a lot higher than it would be at home.  Just having the repair truck coming out on the highway is costly.  Then the equipment they use and the equipment they install may not be what you want.  And you have to pay for it.

If you do an online search for “financing truck repairs” then you’ll see millions of hits in less than a second.  Everyone wants to lend you money on the Internet.  Best terms, the lowest fees – you’ve seen the sales pages for these businesses.

I’m not here to talk bad about truck repair financing companies.  They provide a necessary service to our industry.  Paying for an immediate repair and getting back on the road is critical to all trucking businesses – owner-operators or fleets. When the cash isn’t on hand, or the credit card limit is too low, using a financing company may be the only choice.

Are you creating an emergency fund to avoid financing?  It’s a good idea.  I know a couple of truckers who keep a single debit or credit card with a balance for emergencies only.  This keeps the funds handy but also keeps them accessible.  It’s not like it’s a good idea to carry $5,000 in cash in your truck.  It is a good idea to have a $5,000 credit or debit card close by.

Checking Those Truck Maintenance Records

Just because you’re keeping track of your truck maintenance records, doesn’t mean that you’re paying attention to them.

Some maintenance tasks are based on time.  It’s easy to remember to check your suspension system every month on the first Tuesday – just put in on your calendar.  But tracking oil changes and tires – those may be checked often, but the miles are what matter.

As we move out of summer, it’s time to start thinking about getting ready for the rough winter and the slow-down in the new year now.  While the loads are good, it’s common to postpone the things that keep us off the road.  The money is good and we will need it come January.  I think it’s smart to plan ahead and look at what will need to be done.  By using the truck maintenance records, those plans can be decided now and the money set aside for pay for them.  When you’re at home, enjoying the slow season, and not having to worry about how to pay for them.

How to Check Your Truck Maintenance Records

Are you using a spreadsheet to track your maintenance?  I used to do that too.  I couldn’t ever make it work that well.  It was too complicated using miles for one and time for the other.

That’s the power of a trucking management solution – not just the software for maintenance.  But having a complete system that tracks both miles and time and lets you know when it’s time to attend to the equipment needs makes your life much easier.  That’s why TruckingOffice has a maintenance module that works behind the scenes.  You’ll enter the maintenance work as it’s done, but TruckingOffice can help you remember when it needs to be done again.  No more doubling the work on multiple spreadsheets.  By using your data in many ways, trucking will never be easier than it is with TruckingOffice.

Bold claims.  I know you’re thinking we can’t be all that – so let us prove it to you.  How about a free trial of our complete trucking management software solution – not just the parts we want you to see?  (You know who we’re talking about.)  So sign up today absolutely free!  We don’t ask for a debit card, credit card or checking account number until you’re satisfied.

Let’s not see you on the side of the road – or with four different emergency service mudflaps on your trailer.