Think Ahead: Don’t Wait For A Breakdown – Anticipate and Act Now
Emergency breakdowns on the road are expensive and disruptive – for the truck driver, for the trucking company and for the customer. Of course there’s no way to prevent all breakdowns, but the key to avoiding them is regular and preventative maintenance together with an understanding of possible problems.
Anticipating common problems like worn-out brakes or aging hinges on the roll-up back door can extend truck life by attending to these difficulties before they become major problems.
Parts To Watch Out For
No one can predict what could go wrong, but some of the items on a truck that could potentially break down are:
- Tires can acquire slow leaks from nails or other punctures or just normal wear and tear. At $500 per tire or $800 per super single tire, it’s important to make sure truck tires maintain the correct tread depth of 20-30 32nds of an inch and the correct 95 lbs of air pressure. It’s a much better idea to replace the tire than risk a flat 5,000 miles away on the road. Imbalanced tires or a bent rim can create problems with the axles.
- Electrical components. Almost everything in a diesel engine is integrated and monitored by a computer known as the Electronic Control Unit (ECU). The ECU will flash a warning light to signal a problem and a driver should have sufficient time to finish a job and return the vehicle to the shop for diagnosis and repair. Even so, electrical problems are not always easy to find.
- Transmissions are complex and can also cost a few thousand dollars to fix, depending on the issue. Changing the transmission fluid regularly can help prevent some of the problems that can occur if a transmission is damaged. Some symptoms of transmission problems include gears slipping while driving, a burning odor, a dragging clutch or a grinding or clunking sound when changing gears.
- Clutch cables can come under stress and may weaken and break.
- Suspension springs.
- Duct Fluid Filter. At a cost of $5,000, maintenance is key.
- Worn-out injectors will belch black smoke and make noise when they’re breaking down. Technicians are able to shut down each injector to diagnose the problem, which could stem from engine oil in the combustion chamber to a bad seal on a valve.
Regular Maintenance Helps
Changing the Air Filter will keep the turbo spinning at the correct rate. If dirt clogs the filter a truck could end up very quickly with damage to the turbo, the valves or the pistons.
Oil filter and changes are crucial since any silica or dirt that slips into the motor will cause wear and tear to the engine.
Changing the fluids regularly. This includes engine oil, coolant and transmission fluid to help the engine operate at peak condition.
Keeping your mud flaps in good shape is a good way to prevent rust from creeping on to the truck.
It may seem expensive, but the cost of replacing these items en route at another auto shop would be considerably more than being replaced by the trucking company’s in-shop technician during preventative maintenance. It pays to do a thorough in-house inspection and parts replacement early in the game.