How To Implement a Diesel Preventative Maintenance Program

Regardless of whether they have a gas or diesel engine, trucks are an investment. Both require care and maintenance to make the vehicle last and meet its full potential. Understanding the differences between the two will help you know what is specifically required for cars with diesel engines. Understanding how to implement a diesel preventative maintenance program will assist you in keeping your truck running smoother longer.

Preventative Meaning

Preventative maintenance refers to a series of tasks being regularly performed on specified equipment to lessen the chances of a breakdown or failure. Preventative maintenance is executed while the vehicle is working to help avoid issues from arising. This type of work is done to all parts of a vehicle, not just the engine. Everything works simultaneously to transport you and your cargo correctly, so the entire machine must be cared for.

Diesel Maintenance

Part of diesel maintenance is to improve fuel economy as well as increase the lifespan of the truck. Keeping the vehicle in the best shape possible while you own it will also help you sell it later if you choose. In commercial trucking, keeping your fleet in order will help you to avoid fines and violations. Maintenance of diesel trucks can be scheduled based on mileage or the amount of time between each occurrence.

Preventative Maintenance Checklist

As you begin to compile your diesel truck preventative maintenance checklist, you have many things that need to be checked—keeping a physical record of what’s done, and when, will help you ensure that you’re not missing anything. Even if you take your truck into a shop, it’s a good idea to keep your own records.

If you want to transfer shops, need to check information quickly, or something goes awry, and they lose some of your data over time, you’ve got what you need. You’ll also be able to log things that get replaced—so in the event that you do choose to sell your truck, you have well-documented records for a new owner. When making your list, you’ll need to cover several categories and their subgroups within those classes.

Inside Cab

The maintenance checks that are to be done inside the cab of your vehicle will start at the top of your windshield and work down to the floor. Much of the in-cab checking can be done at home and only requires a professional’s involvement if something is malfunctioning.

  • Seats. Check that the seat track is working, and it goes back and forth as well as up and down. Check seat suspension and whether the air bad detector comes on (if applicable). Check your seat belts and ensure that they’re both usable and have locking devices.
  • Ignition. The ignition is responsible for starting your car. If you have a key, ensure that it’s not bent, or you may have difficulty turning it to start the engine. If you have a push-button start, you should regularly check the batteries of your fob. Additionally, you should determine the location within the vehicle that you can place a dying fob to still be able to operate it. Keep an ear out for when your ignition starts acting oddly.
  • Lights. When checking your vehicle’s lights, you’ll want to make sure the overhead lights are working as well as side mirror lights. Additionally, switch on your head, parking, and brake lights, as well as brights and hazards, whenever you need to check if there’s another vehicle in your car’s blind spots.
  • Gauges. Make sure to check your air and dashboard gauges and any other warnings that are made to notify you of issues.
  • Pedals. Push your brake pedal and make sure it isn’t going down too far. Check the pads on them and their overall condition.
  • Operations. Check the steering, parking brake, dash switch operations, heating, and air conditioning controls to ensure everything is working as it should.


When inspecting the body of the vehicle, look for abnormalities such as dents, rust, broken hinges, handles, seals, mud flaps, towing hitch, bumpers, license plate brackets, or locks. Other things that will require inspection are:

  • Air System. You’ll be checking for leaks when you push on the brakes. Test the time it takes for air pressure to build up.
  • Tires. Tire pressure can change with sudden temperature changes in the environment. It can also help you detect a slow leak. Be sure to determine whether the pressure is where it’s supposed to be on all wheels. You’ll also want to look for abnormalities such as balding, uneven tread, tearing, and bulges in the tires. Beware of loose lug nuts.
  • Fuel Tank. Check the fuel tank area by looking at the mountings, the crossover lines, and make sure your fuel cap is inspected.
  • Exhaust System. Staying on top of the exhaust system and HVAC air filters can help you know when to seek the help of a car service.
  • Fittings. Keeping fittings lubricated is essential. Locate them on the hood and body and make sure they’re properly greased.

Engine Maintenance Checklist

As you proceed to inspect the engine area, your checklist gets a bit more invasive. If you’re uncomfortable with this type of work, hand it off to a professional. If you are seeking replacement components, turn to ATL Diesel for Navistar parts for your engine. They’re one of the most trusted brands to supply these necessary elements.

  • Fluids. When checking fluids, assess if oil, fuel, coolant, or other fluids need replacing. If they are low, refill them. Test antifreeze protection and flush the cooling system.
  • Radiator. When you’re inspecting the radiator, you’ll want to look at it for cracks and make sure the mountings are not loose.
  • Alternator. Check the mounting and wiring.
  • Drive Belt. Accessory drive belts need to be assessed for tension. Note their condition.
  • Filters- You will want to have the oil filters changed, check air and power steering filters.

There is a lot to consider as you determine how to implement a diesel preventative maintenance program. There are always going to be things that you can add to your list. If you’re not equipped to work on your own vehicle, it helps to have a firmer understanding of what a professional will do to ensure your diesel is maintained. As mentioned earlier, it never hurts to keep your own records about things that failed, replaced parts, and how often you got your vehicle serviced.

How To Implement a Diesel Preventative Maintenance Program
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