How to Maintain Your Refrigerated Truck: Reefer Maintenance 101

How to Maintain Your Refrigerated Truck: Reefer Maintenance 101


Transport Refrigeration Units, or reefers as they are commonly referred to, come with a whole set of additional maintenance requirements carriers must be responsible for. Not only does keeping a well-maintained reefer provide for safe and efficient transport of refrigerated freight, but it also helps alleviate unexpected equipment failure that can lead to costly freight claims and down-time. Carriers must prioritize the upkeep of their refrigerated fleet to ensure the quality of reefer loads. Quality Reefer Parts’ team of reefer experts has outlined some reefer maintenance tips to help ensure your transport refrigeration unit is performing at peak operating conditions.


Scheduled Maintenance

It is important to establish a routine maintenance schedule. This should include a daily inspection of your reefer during, pre, and post-trip. Additionally, Preventative Maintenance (PM) inspections should be performed based on time intervals or engine hours and necessary repairs performed as required.

Daily Inspection Checklist:

  • Engine oil and coolant levels
  • Visually check for leaks
  • Visually check belts to ensure they’re not worn down or loose
  • Ensure battery connections are clean, greased, and free of corrosion 
  • Monitor and listen for any unusual noises
  • Using the reefer control panel, start the reefer through an automatic pre-trip. Upon completion check for alarms or a “pre-trip pass” message

PM Checklist: (varies based on reefer model, some items may not apply to your reefer)

  • Check air filter restriction indicator and replace the filter if required
  • Tighten belts as necessary
  • Check Battery cables and clamps 
  • Check/add engine oil as needed
  • Check/add coolant as needed
  • Check refrigerant level
  • Check/clean fuel inlet screen/ strainer
  • Check/clean condenser, radiator and evaporator coils as per manufacturers guidelines
  • Check door latches and hinges for proper operation
  • Drain water from the fuel tank and clear debris from defrost drains
  • Check gearbox and compressor seal for leaks
  • Observe fuel lines, oil lines, filters and exhaust system for leaks
  • Listen for unusual bearing noise from components
  • Certain models may require additional checks, this is a general guideline 

Full service:

All items listed in the PM list plus:

  • Change oil and filter
  • Change fuel and air filters

Standard industry best practices recommend a PM inspection between 90 and 120 days for conventional belt-driven transport refrigeration systems. Following that, full-service intervals vary by manufacturer and model but most popular trailer reefers are recommended to be serviced at 3000 engine hours. Engine hour accumulation can vary greatly from fleet to fleet on a yearly basis. Some units may run as little as 1000 hours per year while others can run 3500.  


Common Wear Parts 

As with any system, there are parts that take more wear and tear and require more frequent repair or replacement. Reefer parts that you should keep an eye out for are:

  • Belts
  • Idler pulleys and bearings
  • Oil filter
  • Fuel filter
  • Air filter
  • Door latches 

Luckily, Quality Reefer Parts offers a plethora of reefer parts that are compatible with various refrigeration systems. By being proactive with reefer maintenance, drivers and fleet owners can avoid costly repairs and loss-load claims. The more disciplined and vigilant owners and drivers are, the more reliable and efficient their transportation will be. As an experienced and knowledgeable reefer part vendor, Quality Reefer Parts can help you commit to maintaining the longevity of your refrigerated transport system. 

Quality Reefer Parts is your trusted reefer part vendor providing reefer parts at value pricing. Contact us today to find your part.