TRUK Advice Column

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Things To Check Before Buying Used Trucks

for saleIn the present economic climate in South Africa, buying a new vehicle is virtually out of reach for some owner operators, so buying a used vehicle is the only option, and may be the answer to their needs.

Before you buy a used vehicle make sure it has been well maintained and has the engine and drive line specs suitable for your needs.

Make sure the vehicle is suited to the type of work you will be doing with it.  Proper specs are very important.  

Don't buy just because you feel it is a good deal. 

An underpowered truck for heavy hauling loads will be a VERY COSTLY MISTAKE, one which you cannot afford to make.  

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When Buying A Used Heavy Duty Vehicle

inspection2 There are things you need to know when buying a used heavy duty vehicle

If you do your research it is possible to get a good deal on a used truck, instead of just taking a gamble.

Do you feel lucky?

It is always great if you know the original owner and know how the vehicle performed and how it has been maintained, and whether it had any problems and what they are.  It does help if you know the owner/driver, but it doesn't totally eliminate any possible risks.   You can take steps to avoid having to rely on luck only.

You need to know that the vehicle is mechanically sound, so a thorough inspection is always necessary.  Remember, buying a used vehicle is not necessarily a bad thing, and it is possible to get a great vehicle that will be reliable and give you great service.

The time you take to thoroughly inspect the vehicle and see if it is sound, is always well worth the time and effort. 

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You May Need Clutch Service

clutch1If you’ve noticed that your clutch has been slipping lately, you may be in need of some professional clutch service. Although a clutch should last you for many years, it won’t last forever. And there are many parts that make up a clutch, which means that there are many things that can possibly go wrong with it if regular maintenance isn’t applied. For example, if oil happens to get on the clutch and it isn’t removed immediately as it  should be, it could possibly ruin the clutch.

Because there are so many things that can cause a busted clutch, it can be well worth your time to take a look at a few things yourself first before having to seek some professional clutch service.

Is Your Trucks Clutch Slipping?

If your trucks clutch is slipping, you are definitely not alone. In fact, a slipping clutch is one of the more common problems when it comes to a trucks clutch not working properly. Although it’s necessary for a clutch to slip a little in order for it to slide into the proper gear, once you’ve completely taken your foot off the clutch pedal, there should be no slippage at all. If there is, it’s very possible that you may have a busted clutch.

Because a little bit of clutch slipping tends to lead to more clutch slipping, the reason for the slippage definitely needs to be investigated so that it can be fixed as soon as possible. The more a clutch slips, the more likely it is to create heat that’s so hot that the gears won’t be able to stay in their proper position. This can easily cause damage to all of the clutch parts, including the flywheel and the pressure plate.

Most truck drivers tend to notice that their clutch is beginning to slip when they’re carrying a very heavy load, driving up a long hill, or when driving at a low speed when in high gear. Because it’s highly likely that normal wear and tear is going to be the reason why your clutch is now slipping, some necessary clutch service may be in your near future.

If you happen to be experiencing a slipping clutch even though you just recently had the clutch installed in your truck, it’s most likely due to the following – a defective cable adjuster, a cylinder being blocked, wrongly installed release bearings, a wrong modification on the release system, or even by oil or grease getting into a part where they don’t belong 


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Stopping and Parking

stopping2Definitions of Stopping and Parking

Stopping is when you stop for just long enough to offload goods or passengers with a view to move further. Parking is when you stop for longer than necessary to offload goods or passengers.

Introduction to Parking

Some areas of the road are restricted for parking. This is because parking in that area could endanger roader users. If a vehicle is parked illegally, it can result in a fine for the owner or the vehicle may be impounded with the vehicle owner liable for the costs of removal and impounding.

Maintenance workers, emergency crews, construction workers and officials in the course of duty are exempted from these restrictions.

Parking Signs and Road Markings

You must obey all parking signs. Any parking sign that has a red border around the outside means that you cannot stop there at any time
In addition, in areas with a solid yellow no-parking line you may not park. In areas with a dotted yellow no-parking line you may park there at times indicated on signs next to the roadway.

NoParking   roadmarking   pic1


How to Park Safely

It's not only moving vehicles that are potential hazards on the road. Parked vehicles can be hazards too. That's why it's important to follow the safe parking rules and guidelines shown in this section.You should follow these rules when parking: 

1.    Indicate for at least three seconds before slowing down to park
2.    Move as far off the road as possible when stopping or parking on a road with fast-moving traffic
3.    Park parallel to the road and as close to the left as possible, unless you are parking in an area where angle parking is permitted
4.    Always park within a demarcated parking bay and not on the sidewalk or verge
5.    There will be lines on the road to show where you can angle park
6.    You may park on the right hand side of a one-way road provided the traffic signs and rules allow it and the outer edge of your kerb side wheels are not more than 450 mm into the roadway
7.    Always check for overtaking vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians before opening your door
8.    Be careful when pulling out of a parking space. Don't forget to:

a) check for vehicles
b) signal for at least three seconds before pulling out

hillyroadParking in Hills

1.    When parking uphill on a steep road turn the front wheels away from the kerb and leave your car in first gear if it's manual or in park if it's automatic.
2.    When parking downhill on a steep road, put the car in reverse gear if it's manual or in park if it's automatic, and turn the front wheels into the curve.

scania1Did you find this article helpful?   Do you have any tips to share with other truckers?
Please feel free to leave a comment below 

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Trucking Safety

trucksafetyTrucking is a high-risk profession, as many as 600 truckers are killed on the job every year. The fatalities and injuries involved with trucking stem from vehicle collisions and fuel fires. However, long term health problems linked to fume inhalations and circulation problems also make trucking dangerous. Below are a few tips to keep truckers and other motorists safe.


1.    Upon arriving at an intersection be sure to signal early and often to ensure that other motorists know which way your truck is turning.
2.    Always make sure to slow down long before a complete stop is necessary. Other motorists do not realize how long it takes for a truck to   come to a full stop, so seeing the brake lights early will help to avoid a collision.
3.    Keep changing lanes to a minimum as trucking “no zones” or blind spots are large. Be sure to check mirrors every 7 or 8 seconds.
4.    When routinely checking your vehicle, always be sure to check the headlights, brake lights, and turn signal lights to avoid accidents.
5.    When driving slower than the speed limit due to a heavy load or bad weather always use your flashers.


1.    Use the specific parking set aside for trucks as big rigs need four times the space as an average passenger car.
2.    Trucks should never be parked on roadways with speed limits over 30 mph unless disabled.
3.    When pulling off to the the side of the road or highway, always use precaution with flares, flashers, and safety triangles to alert other motorists.
4.    Do not park your truck near driveways or side streets, as the tractor trailer can obstruct a motorist’s view of oncoming traffic.
5.    Never park facing oncoming traffic.


1.    Do not let your truck idle for more than 5 minutes at a time as it is a waste of fuel.
2.    Do not idle your truck while sleeping, loading or unloading. Not only does it burn fuel, it has also been linked to lung cancer in truck drivers.
3.    When idling your vehicle, do not leave it unattended. This is how theft happens.
4.    If idling is necessary, keep windows closed or wear a safety mask so as not to inhale too many fumes.
5.    Idling may be necessary in temperatures below 20 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid fuel-gelling. This can be for as much as 10-20 minutes as necessary.


1.    In rain or snow conditions be sure to keep substantial space between your truck and the vehicle in front of your truck in case of an emergency stop.
2.    In bad weather, do not feel obliged to go as fast as the speed limit. Slower speeds are necessary to avoid rollovers, jackknifes, and collisions.
3.    Always keep tire chains on hand in case of snow or ice.
4.    Keep the fuel tank full during the colder seasons as water condensation can build up in the fuel line.
5.    Remember to take extra precautions on bridges as they freeze before roads do.


1.    Do not tailgate. Although long haul trucking entails hours of driving and frustrations run high, keep emotions in check.
2.    Take sufficient breaks and actually get out of the truck in order to stay fresh and alert on long hauls.
3.    Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing as sitting for long periods of time can cut off circulation and cause serious health problems over time.
4.    Admit to yourself when you are fatigued. Driving while exhausted can be more dangerous than driving while intoxicated.
5.    Remember that trucking regulations prohibit more than 11 hours of continuous trucking with a subsequent 10 hour off-duty break.

However, this is not always enough rest time so be sure to pay attention to your body’s fatigue levels.

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Change The Oil in Your Truck

oilchangepanChanging your own oil in your truck can save you time and money. Taking your truck to a maintenance shop could take almost all day after you make an appointment and driving to the shop. After learning how you will never take it to a shop again.

Things You'll Need

1.   Wrench or socket wrench
2.   Cloth rag
3.   Empty container/ bucket
4.   Oil filter wrench
5.   Oil filter
6.   Oil
7.   Latex Gloves
8.   Cat litter
9.   Floor jack    


1.   Before you change your oil you should run your truck and get the oil warm so that it will gather all the dirty particles. It will also be easier to drain.

2.   Make sure you set the parking brake.

handbrake3.   First you must obtain a floor jack and jack stands. Jack the truck up using the floor jack. Place the jack in the center of the front brace between the front tires. Make sure that the surface you are parked on is level and stable, so that the jack doesn't move(if not make sure blocks are placed under back tires). Jack the truck up so the front tires are off the ground. For safety purposes, you should also place a jack stand under the brace just inside of the two front tires. This is to make sure the vehicle does not fall on you if the jack fails. Blocking the rear tires will also help eliminate the risk of the jack moving.
jack4.   Get a wrench that fits your drain plug, an oil filter, an oil filter wrench, a bucket to catch the oil, and the oil. Be sure to know what type of oil your vehicle requires. If you do not know, you can find this information in your vehicle manual, as well as the oil capacity.
undertruck5.   Slide under the vehicle. Locate the oil pan and loosen the bolt located on the end of the oil pan. The drain plug. Before you loosen the bolt place bucket under the bolt to catch the oil.

6.   Drain the oil from the oil pan, and clean the bolt with a rag and screw it back in with your fingers. After, take the wrench, and tighten it another quarter to half rotation. This will ensure that the bolt it tightened enough, but not so tight that it is going to pinch the rubber seal.

7.   Use the oil filter wrench to unscrew the oil filter which is to the right of the oil pan. Before the filter is completely screwed out, again place the container under the filter to catch any oil that is still in the filter.

1change   2change   3change


8.   Dispose of old filter and the new filter can be screwed in place. Be sure that you have purchased the correct filter, as sizes will vary depending on model and type of motor you truck has. Also check to make sure you have removed the O-ring from the old filter off of the filter housing. To ensure that the new filter gets installed properly.

9.   Take fresh oil and rub it around the rim of the filter. This is to ensure that there is a good seal once the new filter is screwed in.

10.  Hand tighten the filter. Then take the oil filter wrench and tighten another quarter turn.

11.  Gather the tools and move from under the vehicle.

lowerjack12.  Remove the two jack stands and lower the floor jack.

13.  Pop the hood of the vehicle and unscrew the oil cap which is located on the left side of the engine. Be sure to remove any debris that could potentially fall into the oil. Pour the recommended amount of oil into the vehicle. Screw the oil cap back on and close the hood of the vehicle.

oldoil14.  Run vehicle for ten minutes, then check oil levels with dipstick. Top off oil if needed. Do not forget to release the parking brake before the vehicle is driven again. 

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Keep Your Diesel Engine Running Smoothly

checkingBecause one of the leading maintenance problems truck drivers have these days is diesel engine trouble, it is highly recommended they perform some regular preventive maintenance checks. Preventative maintenance is one of the absolute best ways any truck driver can keep their heavy duty truck running smoothly, and for many years to come. Although most diesel engines are now computerized, which means you may not have much of a choice but to take it in to a professional diesel engine repair shop, there are still some things that you can do in order to make sure that your engine is always a operating at its best.

Since the majority of truck drivers have a basic understanding of how diesel engines work, it is highly suggested that you perform these regularly scheduled maintenance checks at least once every six months in order to keep your truck running smoothly. And remember, when regular attention is given to making sure that a diesel engine is performing the best it can, it’s going to save you a lot of money in the long run.

inspectingtruck nozzle oilcheck

How to Keep Your Diesel Engine Running Smoothly

The following are some of the best ways that you can keep your diesel engine running exactly as it’s supposed to.

•    Buy the best diesel fuel. BUYING  diesel fuel directly from the fuel network is highly recommended because they’ve already performed the necessary research in order to find out which of the many truck stops offers the best diesel fuel options.
•    Oil filters and fuel filters. Diesel engines need to be kept fully lubricated in order for them to work properly, which makes checking and changing the oil and fuel filters necessary. If the oil and/or fuel filters become clogged on a diesel engine, it will not only reduce the gas mileage, it will also cause the engine to perform poorly.
•    Clean the radiator. If the radiator is not completely clean, it can cause the engine to overheat, therefore it is recommended to clean the outside of the radiator every 3 to 6 months in order to remove any road debris, etc.
•    Clean all electrical connections. Cleaning all electrical cables is going to allow for a better and proper electrical connection, which is going to allow electrical connections to be at their strongest.
•    Check the gauges. Checking all of a trucks gauges is a great way for you to see if there are any possible issues that need to be addressed, i.e. oil pressure falling, fuel issues, overheating, electrical issues.
•    Check the tyres. Checking the tyres for uneven wear and tear could point toward a need for repairing the alignment of the axle.
•    Check the fan belts. A simple way to avoid engine repair is to make sure that the fan belts are all set to the proper tension.

Regular checks not only prolong your vehicles life, it can also save yours.

Please feel free to comment or leave your tips below. 

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Buying a Used Truck Tractor

inspectingengineTruck tractor drivers depend heavily on their trucks. It€'s their livelihood and, for long-haul drivers, it can be their home away from home. This extremely interdependent relationship between drivers and their trucks quickly turns even the greenest of drivers into truck tractor experts.

It'€™s no wonder that most truck buyers carry out their own preliminary inspections on truck tractors that interest them. Many people bring a trusted mechanic or colleague to do the inspection for them. An experienced truck owner or driver can recognize the signs of a well-maintained truck and one that has been driven long and hard without any proper maintenance.

If you'€™re a new driver thinking of becoming an owner/operator, a contractor needing to haul heavy equipment back and forth from job sites or a farmer wanting to haul livestock, you'€™ll most likely need to buy a truck tractor. Whether you're looking for Mack trucks for sale, International trucks for sale or another truck tractor make, take some advice from the experts and inspect these five items before you buy:

Axle configuration, horsepower and capacity

Check the truck€'s axle configuration and transportation regulations for your area. Make sure you’re buying the right axle configuration (4x2, 4x4, 6x4, etc) for what you’ll be carrying. Consider the terrain and type of driving you’ll be doing. Will you be hauling loads over hilly terrain for long distances or making short trips within the city to deliver goods?

Select a truck tractor that has the right amount of horsepower for the type of tasks and trips you will be doing. Ask yourself how much capacity you'€™ll need. If you'€™re buying a truck tractor to pull your excavator around town, check the weight of your trailer and your excavator to determine the right capacity for the job.


The engine can give you a lot of information about a truck. Pull the hood and look for any signs of leaks. A leak means the engine may need some repair, perhaps not a costly repair, but a repair nonetheless. Start up the engine; let it run for a few minutes. As the engine gets warm, you should notice no smoke at all coming from the exhaust. If there is smoke and it is blue or white in colour, it could be a sign that the engine is burning oil.

Listen for any knocks coming from the engine. A knocking sound is a good indicator that the engine should be looked at more closely. While you a€™re inspecting the engine, check the engine sticker to find out if the engine meets the latest emission standards.  Be aware that each jurisdiction within a country may have its own emission standards for tractor truck engines.


Step inside the cab and look at the overall condition of the interior. Is the amount of wear reasonable for the truck tractor's age? Check the odometer and make a note of the mileage. For a car, anything approaching 300K might be a sign that it is time to think about a replacement, but for an over-the-road truck, mileage is not as important as the truck'€™s overall condition. If the odometer reads in the range of 400-500K, take a closer look at the engine. It might be time for an out-of-frame or less expensive in-frame overhaul to ensure the truck tractor continues to run for many more years.

Maintenance Logs

If you suspect the engine has already undergone an overhaul, check the truck'€™s maintenance records. Look for any engine work that may have already been done and for other major repairs. The maintenance record should give you a good idea of how well the truck was looked after, in addition to letting you know if the oil was changed on a regular basis. Most mechanics and/or operators will mark the last mileage date of an oil change on the air filter. Check to see if this date coincides with the maintenance records.

Brake Pads

Look online to view brake pad pictures or check the brake pads on site to estimate the percentage of life remaining. A truck with worn brake pads may still be a good investment. Replacing brake pads is a relatively inexpensive repair, and something you should take care of as soon as possible.

hub bearings   position brake

Safety comes first!!!

What truck tractor inspection tips do you have for new truck tractor drivers? Comment and let us know.  

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Safety Tips for Truck Drivers

bluetrruck   truck1

By using nine good motoring habits, truckers can continue to ride the highways in a safe manner. After all, no one wants to add the information of a truck accident to their financial records, even if they have easy-to-use, online truck expense management software.

9 Safety Tips for Truck Drivers

1. Get enough rest. If you feel drowsy, pull over and take a nap. Don’t risk driving while sleepy.
2. Slow down in work zones. Lanes are often moved or redirected during construction; adjust your speed so you can follow the provided signage without endangering yourself, other drivers, or the workers.
3. Be aware of your blind spots. Small cars can be easily missed. Signal your intention to change lanes or turn well in advance, so that cars have enough opportunity to get out of your blind spot. You might also invest in extra side mirrors to improve visibility.
4. Maintain a safe distance from the cars in front of you. It will take you much longer to stop than an average car.
5. Regularly check your brakes. There isn’t always a convenient runaway truck ramp nearby to catch you if your brakes go bad.
6. Follow suggested speed limits.
7. Avoid aggressive drivers. This will help you fulfill tip #6. Don’t get caught up in road rage scenarios; antagonizing aggressive drivers will only escalate the situation.
8. Always, always, always wear your seat belt.
9. Beware of the effects of prescription and OTC drugs; many medications make you drowsy.

safety1   safety2   safety3

By making these suggestions habits, truckers can avoid getting personally acquainted with highway patrolmen, accident lawyers, insurance auditors and DOT representatives. Instead, these dedicated freight movers will enjoy the camaraderie of other truck drivers, rest stop acquaintances and happy freight companies

The best way to avoid becoming part of trucking industry statistics is to be alert, be aware and be conservative. Drivers have their hands full handling the tons of equipment and cargo they move. By adopting these nine safety tips for truck drivers, they can avoid becoming the 1 in 20 drivers with an accident on his or her record. 

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Tips to Keep Your Rig Running Great

bigrigAs a truck driver, you know you have to set aside time for truck maintenance and repair. But every minute you’re off the road you probably feel like you’re losing money. Aside from sticking with a routine maintenance schedule—which is the single most important thing you can do for your truck—the best way to avoid unscheduled repair stops and unnecessary downtime is to take care of your rig.

It really doesn’t take much to make a huge difference in how your truck performs, and often the smartest and safest habits are simply common sense. Here are 10 tips to keep your truck running great between service visits:

pressure check11.   Make sure your tyres are properly inflated. Every week (or more if you’re on a long trip), check your tyre pressure. Underinflated tyres can lower your fuel mileage and make steering difficult, and overinflated tyres are more prone to punctures and pothole damage. It’s also important to keep in mind that tyre pressure can fluctuate with weather changes and from driving at high speeds, so definitely monitor your tyres in these situations.

2.   Regularly check your fluid levels. Before a long haul, make sure to check all of your fluids, especially your oil. Big diesel engines need lots of oil to run well, and if you don’t check your oil often, you could eventually harm your engine, leading to high repair costs.

3.   Regularly check your radiator. Prior to long trips, it’s also important to check your radiator. Look at the radiator itself as well as the overflow bottle. If necessary, top off the fluid, and if you see any leaks (even if they’re small), deal with them quickly before they cause overheating and do any damage to your engine.

4.   Make sure to use the correct fluids. You may think this goes without saying, but it’s all too easy to use the wrong fluid when you’re in a hurry. Make sure to double-check container labels before you top off your fluids.

5.   Check your fuel vent if you’ve been sitting for a few days. After a few days off, check your fuel vent before getting back on the road. Insects, such as wasps, are known to build nests in truck fuel vents, creating blockages and causing trucks to appear to be out of fuel.

checkoil   brakes


6.   Check your brakes often. Do you hear squealing or feel vibration when you apply your brakes? If so, it’s probably time for a check-up. Dealing with the issue sooner rather than later will likely save you money and downtime in the long run.

7.   Drive properly. Drive at the posted speed limit and avoid slamming on the brakes. Simply following trucking regulations can save your truck a lot of wear and tear, prolong its life, and keep you out of the repair shop.

8.   Park properly. Avoid parking sideways on a hill and causing one side of your truck to be higher than the other. This can cause fuel from the higher tank to flow into the lower tank, and then when you start your truck, the uneven tanks will cause the fuel uptake system to draw in air instead of fuel.

9.   Allow your engine to cool before turning off your truck. Before you cut the key off, allow your engine to cool so that your exhaust gas temperature is below 300 degrees.

10.  Avoid harsh weather conditions. We know it’s an inconvenience to stop for inclement weather, but you can avoid significant damage to your truck by getting off the road when bad weather strikes.


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