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 Pretrip Do it every time.
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mtn rider

634 Posts

Posted - 07/01/2007 :  2:33:41 PM  Show Profile Send mtn rider a Private Message  Reply with Quote
With the recent long hauling to the DE ride, there were alot of great questions on preparation.
I thought it would be a good idea to make a list people could easily refer to, before hitting the road.

Pretrips. All comercial drivers are required to do what is called a pretrip on thier vehicle, before starting work. Pretrips are just what they sound like, checks before the vehicle is used that day. Pretrips are designed to not only protect the vehicle by making sure fluid levels are in safe operating range, but also to check some very valuable safety points as well.
A pretrip can vary somewhat, depending on what you are using. Bus, bulldozer, highway rig, or your personal truck & trailer, all should be checked every time you go out.

Once you have located everything, and practiced, its a pretty quick routine, and may save yours, or someone elses, life.

Truck fluids:
power steering

and lastly,
windshield washer (this one is not as crucial, your motor will not blow, you wont hit a tree because you cant stop, but then again you may, because you cant see! LOL)

For memory, note that there are as many fluids as you have fingers on one hand, if you dont worry about being able to wash your window.

Expanded view: all these checks are located in engine compartment.

Oil. Check when engine is cold, for accuracy. This is a dipstick check, on the side (can be either)of the engine block. Dipstick will be fairly long, and goes down into the bottom area of the engine. Most will have a safe operating range, marked on the stick. If you are at the bottom of the safe zone, you are down a bit, but still safe to start up, and go get some oil from the store. If you have no oil showing on the stick, probably a real good idea to leave vehicle off, till you get some. I would also be looking for the reason there is no/low oil in there.
Note: there are different types of oils for different vehicles/seasons, learn what your own requirements are, and have some on hand. Clean oil is clear, looks like pancake syrup. Dirty oil is black. Both are OK, as long as levels are good.

Transmission fluid.
Dipstick check, often toward the rear of engine compartment. Often a bit harder to reach, sometimes with a flip-lock on the end.
Proper check is while hot, but I always do a cold check, just to be sure some is in there. Cold check is not accurate for the level on the stick. Re-check after tranny is warm (unlike engine, it must be driven to properly warm up).
Most tranny fluid will be red in color. It is the life blood of your transmission, and provides lubrication and cooling to your gears.
Some pu trucks will have an extra transmission cooler, there is not one with an extra check on it to my knowledge. It looks like a little radiator, often in front of your big rad. Checking the dipstick is all you need to do to see fluid for it as well.

Brake fluid
Hey, I like to stop, do you?
Well, then you need to keep an eye on this as well. Without brake fluid, you are going to have brake failure. Usually located near the back wall, higher up near hood level, often on the drivers side. Mostly you are looking for a fairly small container here. Often it will show clear, and you wont need to open anything (visual check) look for level indicators, on side of container. Often there will be 2 chambers, be sure you see both. Some will have 2 screw on lids, that need to be opened, to see level. Keep lids over opening, so any drips fall back in.
If you need more fluid, be sure to use the right kind for your system.
Be sure to secure caps properly when done.

Power steering fluid.
This one can be tricky to find sometimes, and often you get dirty checking it, if it is located down low. You are looking for (usually) a round topped, screw in dipstick. Lid is about 2 inches across, black plastic, should say power steering on it, in most cases. Stick is only about 4 inches long. Most will have both hot and cold levels on them. Careful which you read.
Also be careful not to overfill this fluid. Too much is not a good thing.
Be sure to secure cap properly when done.
Ever been in a parking lot, where someone is trying to make a tight turn into a space, and you here this whining noise from thier engine? This is the power steering pump straining, because they have turned thier steering wheel as far as possible, and held it there. If a person just backs off a 1/2 inch with the wheel, this noise dissappears.
I mention this, because it is the noise you will hear, if you are out of fluid as well. If you hear this noise, and check & see NO fluid, you may have done damage, and should get system checked by a professional.

MUST be checked cold!
Located across the front of your engine compartment, is your radiator. It cools your engine by circulating water through, and back to itself. You will notice in the front, waffle type material, probably with the odd dead bug stuck in there. These waffles provide more surface area, for the heat to dissapate. If you took it apart, and layed the metal surfaces of the waffles out flat, you would see a huge area. So the hot water transferrs the heat to this surface, and it escapes.
Now some rads are different than other. Some will have a container for the overflow, others will simply have a small hose running down the side, to let the overflow run out to the ground. Container types have a hot level as well as a cold.
Personally, I dont rely on the container.
I do my check with the cap on the rad itself. Remove the cap, and check to see it you have any of the core exposed. If the core of the rad is covered with fluid, you are good to go. If not, you will need to top up. Core will look similar to the waffle stuff disscussed earlier. Water is ok for a top up, but it will change the % of antifreeze you have in your rad. Always get your rad winterized, in the fall, so it does not freeze & crack on you.
Be sure to secure cap proerly when done.

Note: antifreeze is poision, and dogs like to drink it, because it tastes good to them. Be very careful when handleing, avoid spills, and keep this fliud out of reach of your critters!!!!


Ride safe, return safe.

Edited by - FLOOPER on 07/02/2007 1:25:47 PM

Trail Boss (Moderator)

2546 Posts

Posted - 07/02/2007 :  11:27:37 AM  Show Profile  Visit Saddletramp's Homepage Send Saddletramp a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Very good info, Mtnrider!


"She never moved the stars from their courses,
but she loved a good man and she rode good horses"
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Trail Boss (Moderator)

2493 Posts

Posted - 07/02/2007 :  1:21:25 PM  Show Profile  Visit FLOOPER's Homepage Send FLOOPER a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Great info...nicely explained. I made it a sticky...then realized you said you wanted to add/edit it. Let me know when you're done and I'll sticky it.

The one really imiportant item I would add is tires...especially if hauling...make sure the pressure in your tires is correct, and that the tires don't have damage/missing tread, etc. There are often different values given for loaded vs unloaded vehicle. Posted on inside of driver's side door panel. Don't forget to check your spare...not much good if you put it on and discover it's flat!!

For trailers...there's a whole 'nother checklist!!...maybe that can be a separate topic.


"I'm a man. I can change. If I have to. I guess."
The Man's Prayer from the Red Green Show

Edited by - FLOOPER on 07/02/2007 1:27:53 PM
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2499 Posts

Posted - 07/03/2007 :  12:21:19 AM  Show Profile Send ILoveJoe a Private Message  Reply with Quote
This should definitely be a sticky when you are done with it. Great info Mtn!

Someday when we get a trailer I will be going back over these posts gratefully!

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Trail Boss (Moderator)

6117 Posts

Posted - 07/03/2007 :  05:12:47 AM  Show Profile  Visit Hook's Homepage Send Hook a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Super description of the process.

As Flooper says whole other list for trailers but for sure check the tires are inflated and that the hitch is secure before you leave and at EVERY stop.

Another good idea is to have an mechanical fitness check done every year by a competent mechanic.

In Canada this is required for both the truck and the trailer when ever the combined truck and trailer load exceeds 5,000 Kilograms or 10,000 pounds. The check includes steering, brakes and tires and catches all the major items that need to be replaced or repaired before any catastrophic failure. Works well for us and spreads out needed repairs

Hook(ed)......on Horses

"The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life's plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life. " Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
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3424 Posts

Posted - 07/04/2007 :  12:52:06 PM  Show Profile  Visit fracturedbones's Homepage Send fracturedbones a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hey, this is great! Thanks for posting!

One extra thing...anyone want to add to checks on trailer hitching? I could use it!
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1296 Posts

Posted - 07/04/2007 :  6:07:40 PM  Show Profile  Visit puddleplasher's Homepage Send puddleplasher a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Things to check when you have hitched up your bumper-pull trailer:
- Is the coupling sleeve slid all the way forward, and is the cotter pin reinserted to lock it there?
- Does the coupler securely hold the hitch ball? Test by raising the trailer tongue with the coupling closed -- should lift the truck.
- Are the safety chains hooked to the tow vehicle's hitch or frame (NOT to the hitch ball or stinger)?
- Is the breakaway brake cable secured to the tow vehicle (NOT the chains or hitch ball)? You can also test some breakaway systems by pulling the pin & cable from the box on the trailer and attempting to tow the trailer a few feet - if you feel resistance then the system works.
- Check that the electrical cable is securely plugged into the tow vehicle - jiggle it and tug lightly on it to see if it might comes loose during normal driving.
- Check all trailer lights: running lights, brake lights, left turn, right turn, even reverse.
- Check the indicator lights on the breakaway brake controller in the cab of your vehicle; do they light appropriately when you press the brake pedal?
- Make sure you closed the tack room door.

What else am I forgetting?

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