Tags Posts tagged with "Maintenance"

Maintenance

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Do you spend much time doing preventative maintenance on your food truck? If not, why?

food truck being towed
image from evgrieve.com

Your food truck is how you are able to deliver your fantastic menu to your customers. If it won’t start or is stuck at the auto repair shop, your mobile food business is closed until you can get it back on the road. In this article we’ve compiled 50 tips full of advice, surprising tricks, and vehicle care tips to prolong the life of your kitchen on wheels!

Drive with care every day

Drive with care every day and your food truck will reward you with longer intervals without repair.

  • Do not race your engine during start-up. This is a quick way to add years of wear to your engine, especially if it’s cold outside.
  • Accelerate slowly when you begin your drive. The most wear to the engine and drive train occurs in the first ten to twenty minutes of operation.
  • Warming the engine by letting it idle in the commissary parking lot is not a smart idea. The engine doesn’t operate at its peak temperature, resulting in incomplete fuel combustion, soot deposits on cylinder walls, oil contamination, and ultimately damaged components.
  • Put less strain on your engine and automatic transmission by shifting to neutral at red lights. Otherwise, the engine is still working to push the truck even while it’s stopped.
  • Avoid driving at high speeds and accelerating quickly, especially when it’s very hot or very cold outside. Such driving behavior will result in more frequent repairs.
  • Extend the life of your tires with careful driving. Observe posted speed limits. Avoid fast starts, stops, and turns. Avoid potholes and objects on the road. Don’t run over curbs or hit the tire against the curb when parking.
  • When turning your steering wheel, don’t hold it in an extreme right or left position for more than a few seconds. Doing so can damage the power-steering pump.
  • Consolidate your short driving trips. Most of the wear and tear — as well as the pollution your food truck generates — takes place in the first few minutes of driving.

Buy gas at reputable service stations

Ask whether the gas you buy is filtered at the pump and if the station has a policy about changing the pump filters regularly. If you get a song and dance, find another gas station. Some stations don’t have pump filters, making you more vulnerable to dirty gasoline. Other stations may not mix alcohol and fuel properly — or worse, water down their product. Find a station you trust and stick to it.

Don’t fill up if you see the tanker

If you happen to see a gasoline tanker filling the tanks at your local gas station, come back another day or go to a different station. As the station’s underground tanks are being filled, the turbulence can stir up sediment. Sediment in your gas can clog fuel filters and fuel injectors, causing poor performance and possibly necessitating repairs.

Lighten up your key chain

Does your food truck key share a chain with a dozen or more other keys? That’s a pretty heavy load hanging off the car key when it’s in the ignition. The weight, combined with bouncing while you drive, can wear out the tumblers inside the ignition and eventually lead to ignition switch failure. To add years of service to your ignition switch, purchase a lightweight key chain that allows you to separate your ignition key from the others. Drive with only the ignition key in your ignition. If your ignition key “sticks” when you try to turn on the truck, it’s a warning that your ignition switch is about to fail. Replace it before you get stranded.

Keep an auto log

Keep a pad and pencil in the glove compartment and use them to record your gas fill-ups and mileage. If you notice that your gas mileage worsens, mention it to your service man. It may be an early warning sign that something is wrong with your truck.

Preserve your truck during long-term storage

If you are not going to use your truck for more than a month, store it properly to prevent unnecessary damage and repairs upon your return.

  • Fill the gas tank to help prevent condensation from accumulating in the gas tank. Add a fuel stabilizer and drive the car around a bit to distribute the additive to engine parts.
  • Place a vapor barrier on your garage floor. A 4-mil polyethylene drop cloth will do.
  • Disengage the parking brake to help avoid brake corrosion.
  • Put the truck on jack stands to take the weight of the vehicle off the wheels and tires.
  • Disconnect and remove the battery to keep it from draining. Place the battery on a trickletype charger. Or periodically drain the battery, using a small light bulb, and then recharge it with a low-volt charger.
  • Plug the tailpipe with a rag to prevent moist air from infiltrating into it.

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The signs that fall is sneaking up on us are starting to show: the days grow shorter, leaves are beginning to trickle to the ground, and the hot blanket of summer is slowly lifting.

fall food truck maintenance

As the seasons change, the needs of your food trucks change, too. Maintenance is especially important as fall and winter encroach.

Here are 10 maintenance tips to keep your food truck running in tip top shape:

  • Test and re-test your tires. Since tire pressure changes pretty dramatically when temps drop, you should check the pressure first thing in the morning. Properly inflated tires help with weight distribution and reduce risk of blowouts at high speeds.
  • Change fuel filter.
  • Test your battery. Ensure that it’s secured and that connections are tight. Replace it after 72 months.
  • Check the windshield for cracks and pitting. As temperatures increase, stress on the glass can increase, leading to crack propagation.
  • Replace your wiper blades. The blades are your best friend during a winter storm.
  • Check exhaust systems to ensure that they are free of leaks.
  • Check and refill antifreeze, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and brake fluids.
  • Check all belts and hoses.
  • Prepare your emergency kit and restock from the previous winter. Don’t forget road flares, fire extinguisher, reflective triangles, first aid kit, water, solar blanket, and jumper cables.
  • Adhere to all recommended maintenance schedules.

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food truck battery maintenance tipsHere’s a hot tip about food truck batteries: Warm weather is the time for major automotive-battery problems. Heat, not cold, shortens battery life. The average life of a battery is three and a half years, and even shorter in warmer climates.

Excessive heat and overcharging are the two main reasons for shortened battery life. Heat causes battery fluid to evaporate, which damages the internal structure of the battery. A malfunctioning component in the charging system, usually the voltage regulator, allows too high a charging rate. That can mean a slow death for a battery.

Statistics from a recent study show battery cables, clamps and terminals needed maintenance in 13 percent of the vehicles and seven percent of the batteries were not properly held down.

To get the most life out of the battery in your food truck, we suggest the following:

  • Be sure the electrical system is charging at the correct rate; overcharging can damage a battery as quickly as undercharging.
  • If your battery is the type that needs to be topped off (not very common these days), check it regularly, especially in hot weather. Add distilled water when necessary.
  • Always replace a battery with one that’s rated at least as high as the one originally specified.
  • Keep the top of the battery clean. Dirt becomes a conductor, which drains battery power. Further, as corrosion accumulates on battery terminals it becomes an insulator, inhibiting current flow.
  • The terminals are the positive and negative plugs on top of the truck battery that connect to the corresponding wires to transfer energy from battery to car. Clean these terminals with a wire brush every three months or so.
  • Disconnect your battery if you know you won’t drive the vehicle for more than two weeks. This prevents a gradual loss of charge.
  • The alternator recharges the battery while the truck runs. However, the food truck must be on for at least 20 minutes to fully recharge the battery. Try to limit how many short trips you take, many starting cycles, coupled with short run times will leave your battery below the ideal charged specification. This cycle will lead to a short life for your food truck’s battery.

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preparing food truck for spring

For mobile food vendors who put their food trucks into hibernation over the winter months, spring is an exciting time because it’s time to get your business on the road again.

AZNeats hibernationIf you shut down your truck properly, you made sure to prep your food truck systems for winter storage. This will help to ensure that the de-winterization process will be simple. However, since we are all human, it’s possible to have skipped a step or worse — skipped the winterization process altogether. This means preparing your food truck for spring operation may take additional work — even perhaps fixing some damage. 

Here are some quick steps to help evaluate how your food truck weathered the winter:

  • First Look: Inspect inside the kitchen and cab for water leaks — ceiling or paneling stains — and animal infestation. Even if no water leakage is evident, check the roof for areas where the sealant may have shrunk around vents and other seams. Once you have thoroughly checked for leaks and none are evident, wash and wax your truck. You may also want to apply a petroleum distillate-free protectant in areas including rubber roofs, tires, moldings, and plastics.
  • Freshwater System: If you used a non-toxic antifreeze, drain it as thoroughly as possible via low-point drains, the water heater drain, and tank drains. Return the water-heater bypass to the operational position, and flush the system thoroughly with fresh water via the water pump and a city water connection.
  • Electrical Systems and Appliances: If the batteries have been on a converter or trickle charger, they should be ready for the road. To be safe, just check electrolyte levels (if applicable) and make sure there’s no corrosion on the battery connectors. If everything looks good, connect the shore power cord, and operate all appliances — use a 30-amp (or higher) service to test the A/C. Next, use a polarity checker to ensure all wall outlets are functional.
  • LP-gas: After prolonged storage with the LP-gas supply turned off, the gas lines will be full of air. To purge, open the LP-gas tank or cylinder service valve, then light a stove burner (this may require you to hold a flame next to the burner up to 30 seconds as air escapes). With the burner flame continuing, turn the refrigerator to gas, and check to ensure the flame is lit. Repeat this for the water heater and other kitchen equipment which uses gas to operate. If you suspect a leak in the lines, you can use wipe soapy water over the lines to confirm — bubbles will form where leaks exist for easy detection.
  • Running Gear: During storage, tires gradually lose inflation. Re-inflate to prescribed levels for safe travel — when in doubt use the pressure value listed on the tire sidewall. Food truck owners may opt to inflate tires according to load/inflation tables, when such figures are available. This approach may improve ride quality, and must be used with accurate weight figures for safe travel. You may also want to add 10 psi as a safety margin.

Hopefully, this evaluation shows you that your food truck has survived the winter with no major damage. But in case you’ve stumbled upon some minor repairs needs, we at Mobile Cuisine have a slew of tips to help you through small jobs. If the job is larger, get it to a professional mechanic to have the problems resolved.

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tip of the day

While every food truck owner may need roadside assistance at one time on another, a little advanced planning can help minimize the aggravation or the downtime.  Below is a checklist of items that you should carry in your glove box or tucked away in your food truck for emergencies.

Glove Box:

  • Owner’s manual
  • Insurance card
  • Vehicle Registration
  • AAA (or other roadside assistance provider) phone number and account number

General Items for the truck:

  • Spare tire (don’t forget to make sure it is properly inflated the next time you stop for gas)
  • Tire jack and tire iron
  • Tire Pressure Gauge
  • Battery Operated Air Pump
  • Flat Board (for those cases where the truck might get stuck in the mud)
  • Cat Litter (helps with traction in winter conditions)
  • Blankets
  • Jumper cables
  • Flashlight and spare Batteries
  • First Aid Kit
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Basic Tool Kit

This list is just a general list and can be expanded or revised if you live in an area with special seasonal conditions.

If you have any additional suggestions, please let us know in the comment section below.

 

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With gas prices well over the $3 mark and insurance costs rising, owning a food truck is no drive on Easy Street. Don’t let common repair mistakes add more bumps to the road. Smart vehicle care keeps your food truck running safely and can help to prevent unnecessary accidents. Staying accident-free will keep your food truck insurance rates down at a time when drivers could use all the help they can get.

engine compartment

The Consumer Price Index for auto insurance rose 3.6 percent last year and was up 33 percent from 2002, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Proper maintenance also prolongs the life of your vehicle, another critical factor in today’s sputtering economy.

Whether you have a brand-new or 20 year old food truck, poor maintenance can cost your mobile food business big time. Here are five common mistakes you should avoid:

1. Skimping on routine maintenance

Don’t let the temptation to save a few bucks by delaying maintenance on your food truck steer you off course. Follow the maintenance schedule in your vehicle owner’s manual.

“Not changing the air filter and oil at the right intervals just makes your engine work all that much harder,” Brian Hafer, marketing vice president at AutoMD.com says.

Neglecting other tasks can have even more serious consequences. Failure to replace worn-out brake pads, for instance, can result in the damaging of other parts and put you and your passengers in danger. “Parts of the brake system may then need to be replaced,” Hafer says.

Don’t take your tires for granted, either. Make sure they’re inflated to the proper pressure. Underinflation increases treadwear on the outer edges and reduces gas mileage, according to Goodyear Tires. Too much air pressure leads to uneven wear and faster deterioration.

Goodyear suggests checking tire wear every 3,000 miles. Use the “penny test.” Put a penny into the tread with Lincoln’s head upside down and facing you. It’s time to replace the tires if you can see the whole head, according to the tire maker.

2. Communicating poorly with your mechanic

“The better you are at communicating what’s wrong with your vehicle, the better your chances of getting the repair done right,” Hafer says.

AutoMD recommends keeping a log of what you hear, feel, see and smell when your car has trouble and then sharing those details with the mechanic. Thorough information about the symptoms will speed up the diagnosis and save on labor costs. AutoMD provides a free online car diagnosis tool that provides questions a mechanic might ask.

Don’t tell the shop what needs to be replaced — you might be wrong. Also, ask for your old parts back if anything is replaced. This prevents dishonest mechanics from needlessly replacing good parts or charging you for work that wasn’t done.

3. Failing to get repair quotes

Research repair shops online and get quotes for repairs, AutoMD says. Keep in mind you don’t have to visit the dealership for every problem. Food truck owners can save an estimated $300 or more a year by opting for independent repair shops rather than dealerships, according to an AutoMD analysis.

4. Ignoring dashboard warning lights

Read the owner’s manual to understand what the dashboard warning lights mean, and take appropriate action when a light turns on — even if the truck appears to be running OK. Ignoring warnings could lead to expensive damage and danger.

That includes the warning light for low fuel. Besides increasing the risk of running out of gas, driving a fuel-injected engine frequently on a very low tank is hard on the fuel pump, Hafer says. AutoMD recommends keeping the fuel level above a quarter tank.

5. Failing to do simple repairs yourself

Not everybody’s a mechanical genius, but anyone can learn to replace wiper blades, light bulbs and even fuses and air filters. Doing simple tasks yourself will save money you can use to pay experts for complex work.

With the economy stuck in neutral, do what you can to keep your food truck running smoothly today and save money for tomorrow.

 

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food truck crash

Worn brake pads can drastically reduce your ability to bring your food truck to a complete stop. This can be especially dangerous in an emergency situation when properly working brakes are a must to help you stop your truck promptly. There are some telltale signs your brake system will give you prior to impending brake problems; do you know what they are? Knowledge of these possible brake problems can help you avoid downtime, injury or even death of you, your employees, a customer or anyone in the way of your rolling bistro.

Here are some of the common warning signs:

  • Grinding or squealing brakes
  • Pulling of the truck from one side to the other
  • Wheel grabs
  • Brake pedal pumping
  • Sudden and hard brake pedal
  • Spongy brake pedals

While some of these problems may necessitate you replacing other brake components, an inspection of your brake pads should reveal that they are worn and are in need of immediate replacement.

Your next course of action will depend on your level of knowledge as a mechanic, your available time and on finances. Most garages offer free brake inspections so I suggest that anyone not certificated as an automotive technician/mechanic have someone else inspect your brakes to confirm your findings.

Ask your mechanic for a complete diagnosis of your brake system and an estimate on what parts and repairs will cost you. A good garage will give you a fairly close estimate of what your costs will be. Throw in your local taxes and the price quoted should be within 95% of the final cost, barring any unforeseen problems.

If you feel reasonably confident that you can do the work yourself, you stand to save yourself plenty of money, at least in labor costs. You can save money with parts, too, by shopping around; the highest prices you pay will likely be through your dealer’s parts department. Prices at a national auto parts supply store should be lower, while prices through an online wholesaler should be about the lowest available as they purchase directly from the manufacturer.

If you decide to purchase online, only obtain parts from a reputable dealer selling parts from trusted manufacturers. Be careful of parts sites selling generic parts from overseas and if you do order online be sure that you can return what you purchase, if needed.

We hope this article helps you to stay safe on the road. If you have any other tips, please feel to share them with our readers in the comment section below.

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Unlike your brick and mortar competitors, your kitchen is mobile which has its fair share of advantages; however, it can also provide you with your own set of disadvantages.

If you have been worried about the poor performance of your food truck lately, it is time to get it checked at a reliable automotive repair services shop. Automotive repair is a regular maintenance practice which is required for a longer lifespan of any vehicle but especially your food truck when it could mean lost days of business if it breaks down. It is can be a big expense even when new, but with the increasing age of your mobile eatery its maintenance requirements will grow over time. You will have various options in your area but choosing one depends on the type of vehicle you selected to be the base of your business as well as the proximity of the repair shop to your location.

Truck repair is also dependent on seasons. For example during summer, the engine needs to be taken care of, especially since the hot weather will put more stress on it on your daily runs. Going in for a full service is a wise decision to make in such a situation to avoid any inconvenience during the business day. Every truck owner should also be aware of minor problems related to their vehicle which can be easily fixed by themselves whenever required.

It is always advisable to start looking for an auto repair shop when you own a truck because one never knows when the need might arise. Here are some tips to find reliable services:

  • One of the best and most reliable options of finding auto repair services is asking friends and colleagues for references. If they have the experience of getting good service regularly, it can be a great option to choose.
  • The auto repair shop should have qualified professionals to carry out the repair and maintenance work with ease. A proof of high quality is the association of the repair shop with a, NAPA Autocare, ASP or Parts Plus. This association ensures that the repair shop has undergone high scrutiny of service and also has satisfied customers.
  • The look and feel of a repair shop is also important. One can also take feedback from customers at the shop about the kind of service provided by the technicians and how satisfied they are.
  • Find out if the shop has technicians with certification like ASP, Delco or certification from manufacturers like Mercedes, Ford, and GM. This indicates how serious they are about their job and service provided. This also means that they are up-to-date with the latest technology which is actually a sign of excellence.
  • Also, it is not necessary that a larger repair shop will be better than a smaller one. Always check for prices in every shop you research because prices are usually competitive in any area.
  • Look for state-of-the-art equipment in the repair shop. Without a well-equipped store, complete repair cannot be guaranteed. This becomes even more essential if you own the latest model of truck.

Maintenance and it services are very important for any food truck. Although they may be difficult to afford at times, they are priceless when it comes to maintaining the good health of your vehicle. It is very important to make the right choice so that at some time you do not have to close up your kitchen because your truck cannot make it out of the commissary.

We hope this article will save some of you the headaches of having to deal with downtime because you did not keep up on your mobile kitchen’s maintenance.

 

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