Goal Setting Tips for Truckers

Do your own PM

by Dean
(Chicago, IL)

Doing your own PM is easy if you are somewhat mechanically inclined. There are a few things you must do first.

1. Learn where all the lube points on your truck are.
2. Get the tools.
3. Get the proper filters.
4. Get the proper fluids and lubes.
5. Find out where your local waste oil recycler is.
6. Find a place where you can park your truck to do the PM.

Learning the lube points.

You can learn most easily by bringing your truck to a shop, paying for a PM, then pay the mechanic to show you how he does it on your truck.

While most mechanics want to keep their "secrets", if you throw him a hundred; I'm sure that he will show you EVERYTHING.

As he shows you, make sure you write down or record what he is doing and ask him to show you short interval AND long interval maintenance.

From this, you will get to see all the filters, tools, and fluids used for your vehicle. That hundred you just threw that mechanic will save you thousands, trust me.

Getting the tools.

You can get the basic hand tools you need an any Wal-Mart for around 100 bucks. The fuel and oil filter wrenches you can get from any specialty tool retailer for around 75 bucks. Craftsman, Snap On, and Matco are among these. I got mine from

You will need an oil tub to drain your waste oil into that is
A) large enough to hold ten gallons of oil
B) can be sealed so you can transport it to the waste recycler
C) flat enough to fit under your truck
D) rugged enough so that it wont break when you drag and lift it with oil in it

Getting the filters.

The best possible place to get your fuel, oil, air, and transmission fluid filters is directly from the manufacturers of those filters. There are many and you can order online and have the filters send directly to you. All the typical filters for your truck may run you a hundred bucks getting them this way.

Getting the proper fluids and lubes

Look in the owner's manual for your truck to find out all the proper fluids for your truck. These fluids can be obtained at any TA, Petro, Boss, or dealership among other places. You can also obtain most of them at Wal-Mart, Pep Boys, AutoZone.

One note; the engine oil is the same regardless of brand! Don't pay an extra 10 bucks for one brand over another.

All the lubes and fluids can be obtained for 200 bucks at most.

Find out where you local recycler is.

Look online for waste oil recyclers and call one of them about your waste oil.

Finding a place to park your
truck to do the PM

Anywhere that is level and big enough to park your tractor is good enough. If your driveway is accessible, do it there. If not; find a local paved lot and ask the owner if you can use it to PM your truck. Maybe you'll need to throw him or her a few bucks to rent the space for a few hours.

Now armed with the knowledge, tools, fluids, filters, disposal paradigm, and area; you can tackle your own PM and save yourself thousands a year on maintenance costs.

Response from Vicki:

Dean, thank you so much for your excellent pointers on how to do your own PM on a truck!

The concept of learning how to do preventive maintenance (a "PM") from a certified mechanic is tremendous. There's nothing like duplicating success from an expert.

The thought of moving 10 gallons of used oil strikes fear into the heart of some folks, but if it is sealed up, there should be no problems. Part of the trick of changing one's oil is making sure that there are no drips or spills. We wonder if there is some kind of impervious drop cloth that one can use under the oil tub to catch small drips and spills.

If a driver wants to do his own PM in his driveway (or other location) himself, does he have to drive "up" on something to lift the truck high enough to crawl under to do oil changes? Are there recommended weight-rated "ramps" for large trucks? Are there other things that he should consider before attempting this?

We suppose that in addition to learning from a mechanic how to do a PM (watching him do it), a driver who is a bit hesitant to jump directly from watching to doing his own might pay the mechanic to "supervise" one time while the driver does his own, just to make sure that everything is done correctly. It would be like a reinforcement lesson along the lines of this Chinese proverb:

"Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand."

For what it's worth, I Googled the term "oil recyclers" and found sites that list these. Depending on which type of oil they use, drivers may need to pay special attention to recyclers who take only non-synthetic versus synthetic types of oil -- or only oil from gasoline engines versus diesel or natural gas engines. We would be interested to know if there are any oil recyclers who pay for used oil.

Thanks again for your wonderful contribution! Based on this, we anticipate that our owner-operator readers will indeed be able to save money.

We wish you safe travels and lots of money saving opportunities on the road!

Best regards,
Vicki Simons

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