Some Useful Pocket Tools for Truckers

As a trucker, you never know where you’ll end up needing a tool or assistance. Truck stops have limited resources and life on the road is made a lot easier when you have the tools you need. Along with big standard tools, plenty of pocket tools and quick options will make your life more manageable on the road.

A collection of pocket tools will not only provide you with repair options, but many of the tools will help with everyday tasks as you travel from stop to stop on the open road. Check out this guide to learn about some of your tool options and their uses on the road.

Multi-Tools

One of the quickest and most efficient tools to bring with you on the road is a multi-tool. The fold-up tools include a lot of compact options. Tools vary by design, but some of the more common options include scissors, knives, screwdrivers, and pliers. A multi-tool provides quick repairs options but also has everyday uses.

For example, if you purchase fresh fruit for the road, a multi-tool is ideal for peeling and slicing the fruit. After driving for a few months, you will have a good idea of what tools you use on a regular basis. From there, you can upgrade your multi-tool to include the exact tools you need for the road.

Credit Card-Sized Multi-Tools

An alternate version of the multi-tool is a credit card-sized multi-tool. A flat multi-tool includes different edges and flip-out options. Some of the edges may include sharp edges or jagged edges like a small saw blade. The tools are typically made of durable metal to provide strength. These tools also include cut-out shapes in common bolt sizes to help loosen and tighten various bolts.

The tool is easy to keep in a wallet and pull out in a pinch.

Tire Gauges

Air pressure is an essential part of operating a big truck. If your tires have low pressure, you run the risk of a tire popping or lowering your gas mileage and driving efficiency. One of the quickest ways to check the tire pressure on your truck is with a tire gauge. Pocket versions allow you to quickly check the air pressure without the need for a big rig or professional help.

Some of the more advanced pocket gauges include a digital screen. The digital reading takes the guesswork out of a tire gauge and will give you accurate results. Some of the screens feature backlit LCD screens that allow you to see pressure when you check in dark conditions.

Hex Keys

When you need to make adjustments or remove bolts, you may run into frustrations when you do not have the proper size. A hex key tool includes a collection of the most sizes for hex bolts. When you use the properly sized tool, you can make adjustments easily and can avoid stripping bolts.

Each tool on a hex key can flip outwards to access the hex bolts one at a time. As you shop for hex keys, look for ones with at least ten different sizes. Some sets will include both metric and standard sizes for the hex key.

LED Lights

Advancements in LED lights have created small pocket lights that provide powerful beams and illumination. The lights come in handy when you need to inspect and check your truck at night. Choose from handheld lights or keychain lights you can quickly access.

A small LED headlamp provides a hands-free option when you have to crawl under the truck or need to use multiple tools. LED lights are also useful during the day. Many areas of the truck block out natural sunlight and create areas that are hard to see.

Along with the LED lights, consider an extra stash of backup batteries to help power the lights. You can also shop for LED lights with rechargeable batteries so you can charge the lights while you travel on the road.

Tool Organizer

Pocket tools are easy to lose. The last thing you want is to have a convenient tool get jammed in your seat or just go missing. When you purchase pocket tools, consider an easy way to organize all the tools in one place. If you want an enclosed space, shop for small plastic tackle boxes usually reserved for fishing.

A tackle box typically opens up to reveal multiple layers for easy storage. The clips to hold a tackle box shut will prevent the tools from falling out while you drive. If you purchase a truck with a sleeper cabin, then consider a make-up organizer. The open sections of the organizer are easy to place tools in. Keep the organizer inside a cabinet and grab a tool when needed.

For all of your truck needs, contact us at Arrow Truck Sales. We can help you find day trucks and sleeper cabs and give you tips on tools and accessories. The more prepared you are for the open road, the more easily you’ll be able to handle any situation.

How to maintain the resale value of a truck

Jason Church, a member of the purchasing department at Arrow Truck Sales, has seen a lot of trucks in his life. Whether it’s prior roles as a salesman and branch manager, or his role today, the man has done a lot of deals on used commercial vehicles.

When it comes to resale value, Church has some suggestions on how to get the most out of your used truck.
“Whether it’s a truck, a car, a bass boat, a house, people like to buy nice things,” said Church. “When you look at two different trucks, and they came from the same place, and two different people had control of its outcome. If one is clean, the bumper got scratched but they took care of it when they could, and the tires match.”

Beyond keeping things clean and consistent, Church also preaches proactivity. “Making sure there’s not oil leaks to the ground. If you get a simple oil leak today, just fix it. It becomes a massive leak down the road and sprays all over the truck.”

It can be tempting to collect insurance money on minor issues and not resolve issues with the truck, but Church cautions against that. “If you get dinged. Instead of taking the insurance money and saying ‘When things slow down, I’ll get it fixed’. Just get it fixed.”

Church mentions that if at all possible, resolving issues in a timely fashion is important. “I know there are bills to pay, there is a reality to everything, but if you can’t stop right make sure you do.”

A proactive approach to cleaning and maintaining your truck will help improve the resale value when it comes time to sell. “Keep it clean, keep it nice. It speaks volumes and pays more when you do it.”

Watch the full episode here:

What truck drivers need to know about their HVAC

We were lucky enough to spend some time with Stan Saunders, HVAC Product Support for Road Choice on the most recent episode of the successful driver podcast. We asked him several questions about HVAC and he provided some great answers about what truck drivers need to know about their systems.

Heat check

The environment has been on an upward trend with regard to temperature.

“The temperature outside has changed more so in the last few years, to where it’s super hot. And I don’t see that going away,” said Saunders.

Beyond just rising temperatures though is truck-related heat. “The temperatures around the truck because of the EPA is getting hotter,” said Saunders. “We’ve got EGR, DPF filters. All these things generate heat that we didn’t have in trucks in 2007. With the additional heat from the temperatures outside and the technology with the regulations, the temperature around the truck is hotter than it ever has.”

While the temperatures rise for various reasons, the technology for HVAC in trucks has been stead for the last 25 years. “We’ve been using the same AC refrigerant for 26 years,” Saunders said. “The technology is there, we’re doing the best we can when we’re making trucks.”

If your unit isn’t able to keep up even running correctly, it may be time to look for help. “If that’s not satisfactory then maybe they need to look at some auxiliary AC.”

Early indicators of issues

Truck drivers need to proactive about monitoring their HVAC. It can be an uncomfortable experience being without AC or with a failing unit for extended periods of time.

One thing Saunders suggests is monitoring the temperature of the cab. “I’d keep a constant eye on the temperature coming out of the outlets,” he said. “When a system fails, it’s usually one of two ways. It fails very abruptly or it fades away. I always recommend for drivers to keep a dash outlet thermometer. What you’re looking for is about a thirty degree drop from ambient temperature outside. If it’s 90 degrees outside, you’d want the outlets to be at about 60. If you see that you’re not getting your thirty degree drop and it’s gradual, you know that your AC isn’t working properly. It’s going to be a matter of refrigerant or components that need to be cleaned.”

If you are starting to experience issues, it’s important to get it addressed quickly. “Non-working AC systems laying around will get more damage, more contaminants in the system if it’s open for any reason and make the job more expensive to repair.”

You can find more insights from Saunders on the Successful Driver podcast.

The CVSA Road Check is fast approaching!

Next week is the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance Road Check 2021! The event starts on May 4th and runs through May 6th! The emphasis this year will be on lighting and hours of service!

We spoke with Kerry Wirachosky, Director of Roadside Inspection Program with the CVSA in the lead up to next week! Here’s our full discussion:

What one finance and insurance manager sees in successful drivers

Arrow Truck Sales – Philadelphia’s Finance and Insurance Manager Carrie Shingleton has never been a truck driver. She will be the first to tell you that. However, in her role at Arrow she works daily with owner-operators to help them set up their business for success in their most recent purchase with the company. She sees a lot of different of people from a variety of backgrounds – representing a variety of industries in trucking. Here are some of the key things she thinks are important for successful drivers.

Equipment Research
“Your business is on wheels. You don’t have an office. You really have to put a lot of thought into it – starting with the equipment,” says Shingleton. “You have to have a reliable truck. You need to think about protecting your truck. It’s an investment in your business. If your truck goes down, you’re not making any money.”

Budgeting
“Another big thing is budgeting. You can’t have money coming in and out and not really think about where it’s going. You might have your truck payment consistent but you have other stuff going in that can fluctuate depending on how much you’re driving or how much diesel you’re using,” say Shingleton.

Being meticulous about the dollars and cents – even smaller expenses can go a long way. “Even little things like eating,” Say Shingleton. “It sounds like nothing but just throwing money at things and not thinking about it – not having a system in place to track all of your money. You can lose out if you’re not thinking about it.”

Support system
Having people with a vested interested in your success can help you achieve your goals.

“One of the under talked about aspects of being a successful driver is the importance of a support system, says Shingleton. “Whether it’s a business partner, accountant or significant other that has some system in place to ensure you are successful. Because if you’re just haphazardly doing things – you could be in trouble.”

Haul source and networking
“Haul source is crucial,” says Shingleton. “There’s a lot of people out there promising things to drivers and they don’t deliver.” Reaching out to connections in the industry can help you get answers. “You need to be networking – figuring out who has the best loads and what they’re paying. If you’re doing the load boards are they taking a percent of your money? You have to think things through and research them. Networking is amazing because if you talk to other people and get the truth.”

It’s a unique perspective from someone who is so intimately involved with driver success. You can see our whole discussion with her here:

Now is the time for truck drivers to prepare for the next market dip

The trucking industry is flying (…or is it driving?) high right now and drivers across the country are finding phenomenal success. Rates are high and times are busy as the trucking industry helps push the country out of the final stages of a global pandemic.

We’re in good days right now, but what should truck drivers do to prepare for the next dip in the market? What should they do to prepare for leaner times? Start preparing now.

“I think of stories of the ants saving up for a dry season and hoarding their harvest undergroud so that they can eat long term. We’re no different,” ATBS President and CEO Todd Amen told us on the Successful Driver Podcast. “It’s a good time, but don’t and buy new toys like a Harley or bass boat, or a bunch of chrome for your truck. Save that money, because tough times will come and you’re going to need it to get through tough times. It’s nice to make money, it’s nice to have nice things but make sure you’re building your savings for when a tough time comes.”

People respond differently to the adversity that will inevitably hit when more difficult times for truck drivers come to fruition. Sometimes drivers make big decisions about equipment when times are tough. “People react differently,” said Amen. “A lot of times people freak out because what’s been going for a year or two isn’t there anymore. So they change segments of the market. Maybe going from dry van to flatbed, or flat bed to reefer. And that’s expensive. It’s hard to change.”

Amen says that will changing market segments isn’t always a bad thing, coming up with a long term plan for your business is essential. “You can change over time but when you change it costs money. You have to learn a whole new segment, learn new routes.”

Identifying a segment and become an expert driver in that space can go a long way toward short and long term success, and help you survive market dips. “Be consistent in what you’re doing. Pick something to be successful at,” said Amen. “Know it. Understand it. And ride out the storms, because the market will get good again. But we will have dips, there’s no doubt.”

Watch the full conversation with Amen here: https://youtu.be/bPvy56mb5W8

Safety is important to consider when choosing a fleet to work with

When you’re looking to sign on with a fleet, one of the first things to be considered when making such a decision must be safety. There are clearly a lot of valuable factors that play into your choice of who to work with, but it’s a red flag if the priority of the fleet isn’t on the safety and well being of a driver and those out on the road with them.

“Safety is our highest calling. There’s nothing more important than safety in our company,” Wilson Logistics President Darrel Wilson told us. “Everyone knows that we have to operate safe. If our drivers are out on the road and they tell us something is unsafe, it’s unsafe.”

Being able to be part of a culture that invites concerns on the road to be communicated is a valuable piece of a driver-fleet relationship that goes beyond simply the safety aspect. It’s a reflection of the entirety of the culture of the company if you are able to raise concerns.

Safety is baked into becoming a successful driver in so many ways. Be it equipment selection, equipment knowledge, driver health, compliance, so many elements of driver success have safety at the root of it.

We spoke with Wilson Logistics about safety and more in the latest episode of the Successful Drive Podcast.

Technology has been a big disruptor in the trucking industry

Technological advancements have drastically changed society as a whole. The trucking industry is no different and it manifests itself in a variety of ways.

With trucks themselves, there has been a learning curve with emissions technology throughout the last twenty years – for everyone. Some manufacturers have experienced growing pains trying to perfect the technology required to help the trucking industry do their part in promoting a cleaner environment. Safety and aerodynamics have seen major strides in the last decade. Fleets, suppliers, leasing companies and drivers have had to constantly learn the nuances of trucks with emerging technology. The byproduct of all these changes and learning across the board has brought the quality of units to newer heights.

The trucking industry is a well educated industry – livelihood depends on knowing the ins and outs of your unit. The rise of social media has helped keep truck drivers connected to each other – and allowed for wisdom to be imparted on newer generations of truck drivers. Media specific to educating the truck market is available with video accessibility made easy on the likes of Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, and more. There are several options to help you gain knowledge and understanding of the hot button issues on the road.

The way trucks are advertised, bought and sold has changed significantly as well. Gone are the days where salesman would have to mail photos of a unit to a customer. Print media has changed significantly – with every major publication also having a digital wing to get maximum exposure. Information on trucks is now more accessible than it has ever been. Between the information available online from an education standpoint, truck data is more prominently displayed to help potential buyers enter a negotiation on a unit with confidence.

Though it hasn’t always been perfect, the resiliency of the trucking industry has shown itself in how it has adapted and grown over the last few decades. It will be ready for whatever significant technological disruptors come next.

How one flatbed trailer driver found success on the road

On the second episode of the Successful Driver podcast we talked with Nick Lombardo of Arrow’s purchasing and wholesale team. We asked him based on all the interactions he’s had with successful drivers, what he thought led to their business success?

He spoke about a flatbed trailer driver and how he approached his business.

“I’ll never forget Sammy Silvers. He came rolling in a 1980-something Kenworth K-100 cabover. He owned the truck, had it paid off, had his own flatbed trailer. Sammy was always looking not for the next load, but the load after that. He looked at it from a business standpoint. In the flatbed business he figured out that he could haul steel into Kansas City – and when he came into town he could put wooden spools from the electric company, put them on the steel and drop them off on the way to his next load. Drivers that think like that – looking to maximize their load and earning potential. The drivers looking to reduce their cost – the ones that know how much their truck was making them or the company – were finding success. I thought before I got in a truck industry the decision making behind buying a commercial truck would be more about business practices.”

Lombardo says sometimes there is more preference in the truck than there is about the business side of owning.

“When I got in I was surprised there was a lot more personal preference. You’re going to live in that truck a week at a time. There has to be some personal preferences met. Your main focus has to be on the business side or else you’re not going to make it. Those guys that taught me about how they were successful – approaching their business from a mindset. I think everyone in the business works hard – you can’t drive a truck without working hard. Especially some aspects of the industry – flatbed drivers. They’re climbing up and down, they’re strapping and tarping. The ones that could still approach it with a business mindset were the ones that found success. What they know, what they’re willing to learn, but already know enough business-wise to set themselves up in the right direction.”

Being creative and mindful of ways to maximize your load is certainly a pattern followed by successful drivers – not just in the flatbed aspect of the industry but in every element.