Washing the exterior of a truck. Sounds easy right? Well, it’s not really. When you soap a truck, it is very important that you are careful to soap around all the handles, turn signal lights, steps, and wipers. You want to soap all that stuff by hand. Use a one-foot by one foot lamb’s wool square-not a mitt, they don’t work well. You can use a brush for the rest of the truck, but you have to get in around the handles and stuff by hand. There is no shortcut if you wish to maintain quality.
Many product manufactures say you can use inline injection with certain soaps and let the soap dwell for 30 seconds and rinse. That’s great but you’ll dull the paint. If you don’t hand soap there will be huge spots where you missed, because the brush cannot get to all the nooks and crannies. It just physically is impossible. So when you’re washing a truck you want to make sure that you are soaping most of the nooks and tricky parts by hand.
Now the rest of it, you can soap by using a brush. One thing you may want to check out on Peterbuilt trucks that have the large front end that looks like a car, with the hood, not the flat cab, Kenworth type. On this Peterbuilt style truck, you can loosen the big straps that strap down the hood and pull on the front of the hood and tilt it forward. You will notice the top of the hood goes straight up and down, when it’s fully forward. Then you can soap it pretty easily and you can stand on the tires. Usually the trucks have two cross members that hold the radiators in place above the engine. You can usually stand on those and soap the top part of the cab. That is probably the easiest way to do it if you’re alone. That way you’re not climbing all over the tractor because when some of these fenders get slick with soap, you will slide right off. You’re going to be four or five feet in the air. As you slide off you might get hurt. You certainly don’t want to have a worker hurt him/herself. So you may want to tilt the hood open.
You are going to have to hand soap the wheels. You’re not going to be able to clean them with a brush because they have those big lug nuts. In between the little chrome caps that go around the lug nuts is a space that you’re going to have to hit. You don’t want to miss those areas. It’s OK to spray a citrus cleaner, white wall cleaner, or strong degreaser on the wheels, but don’t put these types of chemicals on polished alcoa aluminum wheels. Hand soap them along with the rear wheels on the tractor and the trailer. Make sure when you’re rinsing those wheels that you rinse thoroughly. You’ll have to dry the water out, otherwise the water rests in there and the entire soap residue rests in a little pool of water in those rims. Then when the driver moves the truck or trailer the dirty pool of water splashes the rest of the rim spotting it and the dirt ring travels around and around. Pay attention to this kind of stuff.
There’s grease all over these types of tractors. The backs of the cabs can get really greasy. You’re going to have to use some kind of a cleaner. Whitewall cleaner or citrus cleaner/degreaser work the best. You spray it on and blast it off. It usually makes them perfect. Make sure your hot water pressure washer, we recommend Landa or HydroTek unit is running at 150+ degrees, 180 is most optimal. Soaps activate best at 180 plus degrees, too hot and you get steam with less water flow and potentially get vapor locks slowing your progress. For more information on Truck Washing equipment or procedures contact; The Truck Wash Guy; http://www.Truckwashguy.com.
We all know that there’s grease also on the bottom of the front axles, which require high pressure hot water to clean. You may have to get down kind of low and blast the front axle from the front of the tractor. Use an extension wand and get the grease in between the frame rails of the tractor behind the cab as well. You’re going to want to get all the grease off of the rear differential, airbrakes and the airshocks. These are the places where you see the majority of the grease. Check the bottoms of the gas tanks. The diesel fuel really blasts off easy especially with hot water. One pass and it will clean it up. Make sure you hit this area otherwise there will be a big grease stain there. Trucks are usually inspected by the state patrol. That’s the highway patrol or state troopers as they’re called in some states. They give tickets at the scales when they test for load weight before the trucks go down hills and at different inspection points they check for excessive grease, because that’s a fire hazard for over the road trucks. Always make sure you clean the license plate on the back of the tractors. The trucks will get stopped at the scales if you cannot read the license plate.
Make sure the trucks you wash don’t get tickets. If they do they’ll probably terminate your contract for cleaning their trucks because you’re not helping them if you don’t clean all the grease off. Bugs. Boy, there’s always bugs on the front of trucks. So you want to make sure you get all the bugs off. Some trucks have those big chrome horns on top of the cabs, and the little yellow lights that are all the way across the top of the cab. These get really dirty with lots of bugs. Many trucks have really big rear view mirrors on sides of the fronts of the cabs so that when they turn they don’t hit smaller cars that are low to the ground. You have to hand soap those as well, both sides; bugs in front and dirt on the back. And make sure you clean bugs off the front license plate.
To clean the entire fleet repeat this simple process in rapid repetition and as you work down the line you will see why on the first day God made dirt and then soon after he made water to clean it off all he created.