Springtime is an appropriate time for inspecting and conducting maintenance on refrigerated trailers. Popular units throughout North America are powered by a small diesel engine that drives a compressor to generate cooling and heating as necessary to prevent spoilage of goods being hauled.


Important Precaution

Prior to inspecting, always switch off the microprocessor to avoid having the engine starting. This is done to prevent injury. First, inspect the doors of the unit for proper operation.

Harsh chemicals used on roads in winter months can cause deterioration of hoses, belts, and wiring harnesses and could result in a breakdown of the reefer unit. Corrosion on electrical terminals can lead to failure of the unit to operate.



What to Look For

Check all belts for cracking or fraying. Check belt tension that should be a half inch to a full inch of deflection. Examine all hoses for cracking, leakage or rubbing causing wear. Replace if necessary. Inspect the defrost hoses for debris plugging them.

Check engine oil level, coolant level, fuel level, and refrigerant level. Adjust when required. Conduct regular maintenance according to manufacturer’s specs, generally at 1,500, 3.000 and 4,500 hours. And always look for signs of fluids leaking.


Test the battery and ensure that it is securely mounted. Vibration is the enemy of a reefer battery. Long periods with the unit not running can also cause a battery to lose its charge. Many fleets now use a solar panel charger mounted on the trailer roof to keep the battery charged and lengthen its life.

All trailer refrigeration units have a compressor, evaporator, condenser, and dryer. Clean these components of any debris.


Inside the Trailer

Enter the cargo area of the trailer and check the air chute for damage. Clear all floor drains of any debris that may accumulate. Moisture in a trailer is only your friend when you are hauling an iced load such as sweet corn or some greens. The ice is blown in over the load as snow and preserves the goods as it melts and the ice cold water keeps the load from overheating. But keep those floor drains open.

Examine the inner walls and ceiling of the trailer for any sign of damage from loading and unloading. Repair immediately so no insulation is lost or moisture damaged.

When finished remember to switch the microprocessor back on. Start the engine to perform the unit’s self-checks and ensure the unit cycles from cooling to heating. Perform a defrost cycle to see that cold water flows from the hoses. Check the air flow inside the trailer.


Pre-trip Inspection Can Reveal Potential Issues

Require your drivers to always perform a pre-trip inspection of the reefer unit before leaving the yard. Provide them with a check list if necessary. 

As long as there are refrigerated trailers there will always be the need for maintenance of the heating and cooling unit components and the engine. Regularly scheduling PMs and conducting them on time is the key to having reliable reefers in your fleet.

Scheduled maintenance can extend the life of your reefers. Units don’t last forever. But they are serving fleets longer with regular inspections and maintenance. At BrightOrder Inc. we created FleetSquared to help with that.

FleetSquared is a repair shop fleet management system designed to make life easy for service managers and technicians. It’s software specifically intended and optimized for Heavy Duty Truck and Trailer Repairs. Use it to quickly and easily create PMs digitally so your reefers and vehicles never miss a scheduled maintenance.

And FleetSquared can do so much more for your shop. It’s affordable and it comes with a free 30 day trial. Try it out by signing up with your email to start your free trial today.