7 Key Garbage Truck Inspection Checklist Items to Include

Investing in a garbage truck fleet is quite the undertaking, considering the fact that each truck can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. According to an audit by the Consolidated Government of Columbus, Georgia, the average age for their 52-truck fleet was 13 years. When the aging trucks eclipsed their normal useful life, annual repair costs skyrocketed from $600,000 annually to over 2 million dollars.

If your organization doesn’t have the luxury of renting trucks, you know how important maintenance can be to keeping them on the road. Since major repairs can really set you back, your daily inspection checklist is critical for identifying faults when they occur, and before they lead to more serious complications.

With this in mind, here are 7 inspection checks specific to most garbage truck types to help reduce preventable repairs.

1. Hydraulics

Since hydraulics are capable of lifting enormous weight, it’s important to keep these in good working order. One hydraulic cylinder can cost well over $300 (not including installation) and failure can be detrimental to keeping trucks in service, so adding this inspection item to your checklist is important.

A typical hydraulic system inspection involves:

  • Assessing the hydraulic fluid filtration system – inspect the filter on the hydraulic fluid system for potential clogs or debris. You also want to look for dirt or unwanted materials on the fluid by taking and analyzing samples.
  • Inspecting the hydraulic cylinder rod – Here, you’ll want to look for any weaknesses, wear, or stress. This inspection is crucial because a bent or rough rod may damage the seals or cause leakages.
  • Examining the sealed area (i.e., system components and fluid lines) – If the rod isn’t bent or damaged and there’s fluid leaking from the top of the hydraulic cylinder, that’s a sign of a worn-out or broken seal.
  • Checking the hydraulic cylinder barrel – If you notice any signs of ballooning or machine interference, you should immediately repair the barrel because leaving it alone may cause damage, severe leaks, or cylinder failure.
  • Look into the sideloading – Do you notice any signs of the cylinder enduring force from the sideways? This may cause bearing wear, misalignment, or tube scoring, hence the need to rectify sideloading promptly.

2. Packer Blades

Even if everything seems perfect from the outlook, having your team inspect (and photograph) the packer blades to make sure they are free of debris is critically important to keeping them in good working order.

Here are a few aspects to look for in these blades:

  • Inspect the bolts and pins – Ensure that these connections are tight to keep the truck’s blades securely attached. Losing the bolts and fasteners during waste lifting or when the truck’s on transit is a recipe for costly repairs and time wastages.
  • Look for dirt or any foreign materials – Keeping the blades clean at all times helps enhance the garbage truck’s longevity and functionality. If you leave unnecessary trash in these blades, it could lead to premature wear and tear.

3. Rollers (Roll-off)

A roll-off inspection entails going over several parts, including but not limited to: cable hoists, cable sheaves, container locks, mounting hardware, hoist up alarm, control handles, and hook lifts. Here are a few tips for assessing the rollers:

  • Look into cable hoists for worn-out sheaves or fraying – Do you notice any signs of wear outs at the edges? This may be because rollers usually experience lots of rubbing.
  •  Check if the fittings are adequately lubricated – For best results, fitting areas like bolts, fasteners, and brackets should undergo lubrication after every 40 hours. Improper or inadequate lubrication causes premature wear and tear of the above components.
  • Check for breakages or unraveling – all hoist cables, clamps, pins, and cable ends should undergo thorough scrutiny after every 40 hours to uncover any irregularities. Leaving it unattended may cause the hoisting system to malfunction or damage other parts of the system.
  • Check for leaky airbags or cracked springs – roll-offs are prone to rusts, and any snapped spring or leaky airbag may catalyze the corrosion, hence the need to inspect frequently.

4. Cables

For roll-off cable hoist systems, checking these for signs of damage periodically is imperative, especially considering the amount of weight they support when lifting containers.

Loose cables and cable ends can cause real damage and accidents to bystanders, especially when the truck’s in operation. Therefore, it’s paramount to ensure that the cables are at the right spot before the truck begins moving. The cables inspection entails:

  • Running the cable slowly with your hands to feel any rough areas, cuts, or lumps.
  • Scrutinizing the cables to unmask any discolored areas, which may indicate damage.
  • Are there areas within the cable that are covered with tapes or labels? They may be areas of damages or obscuring joints.
  • Does the cable grip latch on to the outer cable tightly? If not, that may be a sign of damage.

5. Lift Arms

With side-loaders, lift arms are one of the main inspection points to include in your process. Here are a few things you’ll want to add to your pre-trip or post-trip inspection checklist:

  • Check the pin retaining bolts to affirm that they’re tightly held and not broken.
  • Check the lift bolts to ensure they’re available and securely held.
  • Visually examine the mounting bolts for security and movement.
  • Check the lowering speed while the lift is on a full down trip.
  • Go over all lubrication points to confirm cleanliness, secure fitting, and lubricant availability.
  • Check the lift controls to confirm accessibility, unparalleled view, and effortless return to the neutral position when released.

6. Oil Levels and Fluids

Failing to check and change the hydraulic oil frequently can cause the pump to falter or become noisy. Here’s a basic checklist for oil levels and fluids:

  • Check for hydraulic cylinder leaks. If the hydraulic pressure is too low due to leaks, the system may fail to lift a loaded container.
  • Check the air dryer and valves. If they’re not examined and maintained frequently, dirt and moisture may enter the valves, compromising their functionality.
  • Check the oil reservoir. It’s critical to have sufficient hydraulic oil before heading out to collect garbage. You also want to replace smelly oil and lift any dirt off the tank.

7. Battery Cables

Inspecting and maintaining battery cables is overly critical because everything in the truck runs on battery-generated electricity.

While conducting a full inspection, the battery cables need to be disconnected, cleaned, and subjected to load-testing to see whether a full charge gets through. If the wires transmit low voltage to the batteries, it could be exerting a lot of pressure on the starter and alternator, ultimately reducing their lifespan.

Stay in the Know With a Better Way to Inspect Your Fleet

Conducting regular inspections on your fleet of garbage trucks needs to be taken seriously, considering the cost of purchase and ongoing maintenance. Before hitting the road, Whip Around customers use the Whip Around app to inspect and take pictures of the truck’s hydraulic system, blades, battery, lift arms, oil & fluid levels, rollers, and cables are in good working order.

Although inspections are a great start, verifying that inspections are being performed is what matters the most, which is why our platform is designed to be as easy as possible for drivers, and gives fleet managers instant information about the status of inspections.

Request a demo today, to see firsthand how you can ensure inspections are actually completed the way you need them to be, and your maintenance process streamlined if repairs are needed.

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