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Truck Oil Changes: What You Should Know

As a tractor trailer driver, it’s important to know about how to properly take care of your truck. Knowing how to manage truck oil changes, along with other basic maintenance, is a large part of that. While you will likely learn the basics from other truckers, instructors, or guide books. However, we’re going to provide you with one more avenue of understanding…

Truck Oil Changes: Taking Proper Steps

Engine design

The engine of your truck plays a large role in your truck oil changes. The design, age, and conditions all play a part on your oil’s life. Additionally, things like engine contaminants can also play a role in reducing your oil capabilities. You engine’s fuel efficiency helps determine the overall life of your oil. A more modern, fuel efficient engine tends to have better oil life than older, less efficient ones. However, contaminants like water, dirt, and soot can reduce this efficiency.

How the truck is used

It’s also important to consider how the truck is driven. Much like with normal cars, how hard a driver pushes their truck can shorten their oil life. You also have to consider what conditions you drive your truck in as well. Harsh weather or climates can have a negative impact on your oil lifespan. For example, say you usually drive your truck in hot and dusty area. The higher temperatures can cause your engine to work harder and reduce your oil’s efficiency. Also, there’s an increased risk of contaminants like dirt getting into your engine as well. All of this can lead to the need for truck oil changes.

Oil properties

You also have to consider the type of oil you use in your truck. Trucks will generally use heavy-duty oil, unlike normal passenger cars. Different oil types will have also different properties which can impact their lifespan. Generally, the most common oil types used for truck oil changes are synthetic versus “standard” blends. Synthetic oils tend to last longer and perform better compared to their “standard” counterparts. However, this comes with a higher cost. These oils are also not impervious to contaminants. A higher-quality oil can degrade faster than “standard” oil if it is heavily contaminated.

Truck oil changes are a key part of keeping in properly running. That’s why it’s important to know the factors that can impact your oil’s overall effectiveness. After all, it’s always better to be proactive when it comes to truck maintenance.

Proper GPS Usage: Truck Driver Safety

Saying that GPS has made driving easier is a huge understatement. With GPS apps on phones, truck drivers can go on longer trips faster and more accurately. However, many drivers are unaware of proper GPS usage. Knowing the right way to use GPS can help you get the most out of this great driving aid…

Proper GPS Usage: Traveling Safely​

Keep it at eye-level

GPS is more convenient than ever these days with GPS apps on smartphones. However, these apps come with a risk of drivers constantly glancing at their phones. This takes their eyes off the road, and could lead to potential accidents. That’s why it’s important to keep your GPS at eye-level while driving. Using a phone mount can let you keep your phone GPS up and keep your eyes on the road. Proper GPS usage means you make sure you use it responsibly.

Understand how they operate

It’s always a good idea to know how your GPS works before you head out on the road. Many are designed to be user-friendly, but proper GPS usage means knowing all the features they have to offer. This is especially important in making them safer to use as well. A feature that many GPS apps and devices have is voice navigation. Having your device read out where you need to go can help you stay more focused on the road. Additionally, make sure that it recognizes the address you put in as the correct one before you begin driving!

Use common sense

The GPS is a great tool, but it isn’t perfect. Like all technology, it might have moments where it doesn’t work like it should. In these situations, it’s important to rely to your senses. Remember to obey the traffic signs around you. Many people turn the wrong way onto one-way streets just because their GPS said so! If you think you’re going the wrong way, or your GPS is losing signal, it’s good to stop at somewhere like a gas station and ask for more reliable directions. GPS is a handy tool, but like all tools, you have to use it properly. Proper GPS usage means knowing how to use your device safely and accurately. It also means knowing what to do when things go wrong.

Trailer Talk: Trucker Lingo and Phrases

Growing up, nearly every single on of us has a memory of passing a tractor trailer on the roadway and motioning for them to honk their horn. It was a game for long car rides, or a challenge on the school bus. No matter where you experienced this, it is a visceral image we can almost all recall. However, while we can all recall the ‘honking’ game bit of trailer talk, you might not realize that there are plenty of other phrases that truckers themselves might use to communicate a number of different things. From police on the roadway, to emergencies, and different destinations— there seems to be a common phrase for everything.

Trailer Talk: Commonly Used Phrases

Popular Terms

First of all, when it comes to trailer talk, these are the most common terms:

  • 10-4: Usually used to signify acknowledgment, but can also be used in agreement
  • 10-6: Basically saying, “I’m busy, please hold”
  • 10-7: The trailer talk equivalent of an AIM away message. “I’m done for the night, signing off!”
  • 10-8: En-route. Usually used when saying you’re on the way to a location.
  • 10-9: Repeat your last message, I did not receive it. 
  • 10-20: 20 denotes a location. In fact, it can be used to inform others of your location or ask others for their “20”.
  • 10-33: This term is used to clear the channel for emergency traffic.
  • 10-100: This means you’re taking a potty break!
  • Runnin’you across: The weigh station is open and moving quickly

Law Enforcement

Second, in order to let other trucks know about nearby law enforcement, there is certain trailer talk to talk about just that. Then, they don’t need to guess what is ahead of them on the road!

  • Evel Knievel: a police officer on a motorcycle
  • Mama Bear: A female police officer
  • Papa Bear: A police officer with a CB radio
  • Baby Bear: A rookie police officer
  • Bear Trap: A speed trap
  • Bear bite: A speeding ticket
  • Fox in the hen house: An unmarked police vehicle
  • Full-grown bear: State trooper
  • Flying doughnut: A police helicopter

Destinations

​Finally, when it comes to trailer talk, some of it focuses merely on places you might be going. In fact, some slang is for locations of truck drivers or their destinations only, so they can communicate with other drivers.

  • Gateway: St. Louis, Missouri
  • Lost Wages: Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Mardi Gras: New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Bingotown: Binghamton, New York
  • Beantown: Boston, Massachusetts
  • Motor City: Detroit, Michigan
  • Stack of Bricks: a house or home
  • Spud Town: Boise, Idaho
  • Windy City: Chicago, Illinois 

Essential Truck Features

It’s important to make sure that your truck is prepared before you head out on the road. While some specifics might vary from driver to driver, there are some essential truck features that you should make sure are taken care of. These are the kind of things that you wouldn’t want to leave without…

Essential Truck Features: Top Priorities

Good tires

A good set of tires are some of the most essential truck features to have in good shape. The old saying “you get what you pay for” is certainly true for truck tires. You shouldn’t settle for cheaper tires to save only a few bucks.

Instead, investing in good quality tires will keep you safe and avoid frequent replacements. Stick to the well-trusted brands and follow their recommendations for proper use. Check them frequently to make sure they are still in good shape. Furthermore, consider all-weather or snow tires if you’re driving in icy or snowy places. 

The right lights

Proper lighting is one of those essential truck features that is useful at night and during the day. Break lights, headlights, running lights. and turn signals all should be in working order before you set out. Make sure to check that they are as bright as they should be so other drivers can see them.

Your lights have multiple purposes when on the road. Lights allow you to see the road and they let other drivers see you as well. They also indicate your intentions to other drivers. This is why it’s important to make sure they are working properly at all times. 

Clear mirrors

Mirrors are considered to be essential truck features, but they often get overlooked. Good mirrors let you see around your truck and avoid accidents. They can also help you with parking and other maneuvers.

However, mirrors may require a bit more maintenance than other features. You’ll have to make sure to clean them off if they get too much dirt and grime buildup. You’ll also have to make sure they’re in the right position before driving. The benefits that good mirrors give you makes this maintenance well worth it.

Taking care of the truck essentials will make your trips much more safer. Give these components a check the next time you’re getting ready to head out to make your driving experience all the more enjoyable.

Bobtail Trucks: How They Differ

You might assume that driving a truck without its trailer would be easier than driving with it. However, driving these bobtail trucks can actually be more risky than you’d expect. Driving bobtail requires one to be focused and aware of how their truck changes…

Bobtail Trucks: Driving Safely

Understand the Risk

As mentioned before, bobtail trucks are trucks which are driving without a trailer attached. At first glance, this may appear to be the safest way to drive these trucks. The trucks look like they should preform even better without the added weight of the trailer. However, it turns out this isn’t quite the case.

The added weight of a trailer helps a truck keep all its tires on the road. Removing these trailers then places all the weight on the front two tires of the truck. This means truck drivers will have to be aware of how differently their truck will handle while driving bobtail.

Ease on the brakes

Truck drivers normally have to use some force when they want to brake. However, with bobtail trucks, braking becomes a different story. Hitting the brakes hard could result in your truck flipping over due to the unbalanced weight. It helps to visualize it like you’re riding a bike. You’ll flip your bike if you brake with all the weight on the front wheel, and the same idea applies with bobtail trucks.

To avoid this, you should try to ease on the brakes instead. This will help keep the truck grounded and come to a safer stop. Furthermore, this helps the truck come to a stop sooner as well. You might also want to avoid other braking methods like engine braking when driving bobtail. 

Check you clearance

Something else to keep in mind is your truck’s clearance when driving bobtail. Truck drivers know they have to make sure their clearance is at a level that allows them to pass under bridges or through tunnels. A trailer actually helps lower a truck’s clearance. The added weight helps to push the truck just a bit lower to the ground than usual. 

However, without this added weight, your truck might have raised back up in height. That’s why it helps to double-check your clearance just in case. After all, you wouldn’t want to realize your truck’s too tall after its too late!

Overloaded Truck: Concern and Risk

On their own, tractor trailers can be difficult to handle. This becomes especially apparent if they go over their normal load limits. An overloaded truck can make tractor trailer driving even more dangerous. It’s important to be aware of the risks that come with overloading and improperly loading your truck…

Overloaded Truck: Understanding the Issue

Load limits

Federal law caps the weight limit for commercial vehicles at 80,000 pounds. However, that doesn’t mean that all trucks can carry that weight. That’s why it’s important to know how much your truck can handle to avoid having an overloaded truck. 

Your truck’s total capacity is determined by a number of things. These include it’s braking system, drive train, axles, and wheels just to name a few. However, each truck should have a sticker letting you know what its capacity is. Exceeding this capacity could cause your truck components to wear down and break.

Harder handling

Damaged components are not the only risk that comes with an overloaded truck. These vehicles also are much harder to handle than usual. The added weight makes your truck less responsive and more likely to have the heavier trailer swing out of control.

Rollovers and Jackknifing

Rollovers and jackknifing are also more common on overloaded trucks. So is losing control over your truck, especially when going downhill. These all can increase the risk of accidents to both you and other drivers. That’s why it’s much safer to drive with a properly loaded truck. 

Improperly loaded

Your truck doesn’t have to be over its weight limit to be overloaded. In fact, sometimes you can have an overloaded truck due to improper loading. Improper loading can cause one side of your truck to be heavier than another, causing issues for you when driving.

For example, a truck with too much weight on the left side will struggle to turn right. This unbalanced load will also increase the chance of rollovers during left turns. That’s why it’s important to make sure your cargo is loaded safely and balanced.

Overloaded trucks might seem like a way to move a bit more cargo each trip. However, the risks far outweigh the benefits. Everyone on the road is much safer when trucks carry loads within their weight limits.