A food truck is just like most things in your life: You get out what you put in. And for food truck vendors who depend on their vehicle to get to their next event, a bit of maintenance goes a long way. While each make and model will have its own special needs following these simple food truck maintenance tips, your food truck can continue making you money for years to come.
8 Simple Food Truck Maintenance Tips
- Don’t Miss Any Oil Changes. This step is one of the most important things you can do to ensure a long life for your food truck. Most manufacturers suggest you do this every 3,500 miles or six months. Also, always change your oil filter when you change your oil. There are wide range of options tailored to increasing the life of older engines, so be sure to consult your owner’s manual to ensure you pick the right viscosity level for your truck.
- Watch Fluid Levels. This food truck maintenance tip is to check your trucks fluid levels. The most important one to check is the engine oil. In order to get an accurate reading, be sure it’s cool. Also, check the oil itself. If it’s dirty or smells like gas, it’s time for a change. Now check your, engine coolant. Truck engines create a lot of heat; this is what keeps them from overheating. Check the levels by popping the radiator cap (again, make sure the engine is cool before proceeding). Refill as needed with the manufacturers specified coolant. Finally, check your windshield washer fluid. It’s a good idea to keep an extra jug somewhere on board your truck, especially in winter.
- Rotate Your Tires. Rotating your tires each time you change your oil helps ensure an even wear. This is because tires will wear unevenly depending to the drive-train of your truck. Rotating them will not only extend the life of the tires themselves, but it can make for a smoother ride and reduce the wear on your food truck’s suspension.
- Keep Your Tires Balanced. When getting your tires rotated, make sure to have them balanced. A tire is balanced when the weight of the tire is equally distributed around the axle. With each bump or pothole your truck hits, your tires get more out of balance. An unbalanced set of tires can lead to vibrations on the road and cause increased wear on your suspension as well as damage your kitchen equipment.
- Maintain Alignment. If your food truck is pulling to one side it’s probably time for a wheel alignment. If your wheels are out of alignment, you’ll cause higher wear and tear on tires, typically end up with worse gas mileage, and experience poor handling on the road. Vehicle pulling can also happen when your tires are unevenly inflated or if your truck was designed with the kitchen weighed down heavily on one side.
- Check Your Lights. Check all of your interior and exterior lights and make sure they are working correctly. Dim lights can be a sign of a larger electrical problem, while a burned out light can be dangerous and lead to a fine.
- Replace Your Engine Air Filter. Food truck engine operate best with clean air. Over time, air filters become clogged with dust, and debris. Replace your engine air filter every 15,000 to 30,000 miles. A clean air filter will help your engine last longer, and will optimize its efficiency and acceleration.
- Get It Inspected. If there’s one thing that will help keep your food truck going longest, it’s knowing when to contact an expert. Most truck manufacturers offer specified maintenance checks at dealerships. These inspections will cover everything from your batteries to spark plugs to brake pads. Qualified technicians will spot potential problem areas early, thus helping keep you safe and your food truck running longer.
The Bottom Line
If you own a food truck, you know that the usage of the vehicle is a lot harder than a normal passenger car. Heavier loads are carried; you often do a lot of stop and go driving, and are often tied up in traffic. All this can take its toll on your truck, and keeping up on food truck maintenance should be a top priority. Because your vehicle is the heart of your business, it doesn’t pay to have it breaking down on you every time you turn around.