What Do You Do For Minor Maintenence Issues?

Topic 16168 | Page 1

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Tweak's Comment
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Okay. Say you're doing your pre-trip, and one of your slack adjusters moves more than an inch, or something similar. I don't know if you can fix that yourself. So, what if you were at a truckstop in the middle of nowhere and you find one thing wrong in the pre-trip? DO you not roll? How would you get that fixed? Does the company send out a maintenance truck? Just curious. Thanks!

Kurt G.'s Comment
member avatar

Yeah, my company has a maintenance number you call and they'll tell you what to do. If it was a minor thing that wasn't a serious danger, I might wait until I got somewhere to get it fixed. The maintenance people also would probably send me to the nearest service center for minor things. But of course as the driver you're responsible, so you should always refuse to drive if you feel it isn't safe. I suppose even for a minor thing you're risking a citation.

Parrothead66's Comment
member avatar

Some minor stuff they may try and walk you through it to fix it. They should teach how to adjust your trailer brakes. Changing out an airline from truck to trailer is pretty simple. They also have fittings if you need to splice together a airline. Carry extra glad hands and seals. Carry a basic set of tools with you.

Rob S.'s Comment
member avatar

If you think it's unsafe you have the authority to make maintenance come to you. It's your license and your ticket. First example, tires, if it's flat, stay put. I had an obvious leak in a trailer tire with the auto inflate system. I was 5 miles from a good, safe, legal parking space so I rolled slowly and had it fixed there. Second example, mud flap. I picked up a trailer that was missing one. I called it in. They sent instructions over Qualcomm to proceed to the nearby truck stop for repairs. They told me that if I was stopped the Qualcomm messages would prevent a ticket. That might be true but the risk was on me.

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.
Kanelin's Comment
member avatar

I wouldn't do anything to the brakes, nothing! That's the most critical system on the vehicle and requires certification to do anything to. I know, I know. Those of us who have mechanical backgrounds could most likely fix them, but if anything at all were to happen, not just with the brakes, and it came out that we worked on them it would be very bad. Very very bad.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Pianoman's Comment
member avatar

Your company should have a number for "On-road" or "breakdown." Just call them, tell them what's going on, and they'll walk you through it.

Real life example: The tread on my steer tires has been getting pretty low so I called On-Road and asked them what to do. They told me to go back to the Lancaster terminal I just came from. I let them know the Lancaster shop had told me they were out of steer tires. So they told me to go to a Love's or TA/Petro and have them measure the tread. If it's DOT legal, call my DM and have him route me through the Atlanta terminal before or after I deliver this load. If they're not DOT legal, call them back and they'll authorize tire replacement at the truck stop shop. Easy. Btw, rookie hint for you--use the TirePass at Love's. It's a quick and easy way to get your tires inspected and aired to the proper level. And they measure your tread depth to a 10th of a 32nd of an inch haha.

Another example: one night I discovered a side marker light on my trailer that wasn't working properly. It lit up and stayed solid when my lights were on, but it would only blink for the turn signal when the lights were off. I called OnRoad to let them know I was going to just replace it myself real quick. Well, it wasn't "real quick" and my fix didn't work--the new light did the same thing. I called OnRoad again. According to them it was legal to run that way since it's just a side marker light. Regardless, they sent me to a TA to get it fixed and sent me a message on the Qualcomm so my butt was covered. Took like 15 minutes at the TA and I got pulled over randomly for an inspection less than an hour later hahaha. Needless to say I passed.

Honestly I was worried about this kind of stuff before I came out here, but I don't even think about it anymore. If it's something small that you won't be placed out of service for, just let your company know and they'll route you somewhere to get it fixed. No big deal.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
Rick S.'s Comment
member avatar

I'm not all that sure that a QC message is going to prevent a ticket - if the defect is citable. In fact - it tells the officer that you were AWARE of the defect, and moved the rig anyways.

Most companies do not permit drivers to work on brakes.

If the defect is something that would cause the unit to be placed OOS (like brakes or another serious safety defect), you shouldn't move the rig until it gets corrected. Otherwise be aware, anything that you could get a ticket for - you WILL GET ONE FOR if you are rolling a rig with a defect and get pulled over.

And it's ON YOU - THE DRIVER.

Rick

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Tractor Man's Comment
member avatar

I can understand defects that would put you OOS. BUT a side marker light. I would not be concerned about driving to the nearest locstion for repair. Unless the Officer is a major "Richard", i would think the most he would do is issue a "fixit ticket" I think the qualcomm message would be an asset and not a liability in that situation. "I'm aware of the problem, tried a new bulb, notified my Company, they are sending me to the nearest repair facility". I do not see a citation in anyones future in that instance. Road service would be a colossal waste of time and money in that instance. Just my $.02

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Pianoman's Comment
member avatar

I can understand defects that would put you OOS. BUT a side marker light. I would not be concerned about driving to the nearest locstion for repair. Unless the Officer is a major "Richard", i would think the most he would do is issue a "fixit ticket" I think the qualcomm message would be an asset and not a liability in that situation. "I'm aware of the problem, tried a new bulb, notified my Company, they are sending me to the nearest repair facility". I do not see a citation in anyones future in that instance. Road service would be a colossal waste of time and money in that instance. Just my $.02

The marker light is really what I was referring to when I said the Qualcomm message covers you. A defective side marker light is not an out of service violation. As you said, the officer could be an a-hole about it but that's part of why I pay $7 a week for US Legal, in case that sort of thing happens. You'll hear some crazy stories about the DOT , but for the most part these are regular people like you and me who would rather be fishing and have more important things to do than harass a driver who's clearly on his way to go fix a broken blinky light. As far as the tire situation, if my tread wasn't deep enough I would have been placed out of service, with or without a Qualcomm message.

The marker light situation could happen with anything. You get caught in a hail storm and it tears up one of your windshield wipers. A dump truck cuts you off and some debris flies up and cracks your windshield. After a really rough section of road, you notice you've developed a small air leak--small enough that you can still drive with it and it's not out of service, but you know it's there.

What do you do? Pull off at the next on-ramp and wait for roadside assistance? You can, but that's ridiculous. If it's not an out of service violation, just get it fixed asap. The Qualcomm message doesn't give you a free pass to do whatever you want. It more or less shows that the problem just occurred and you are on your way to get it fixed. But if it's an out of service violation, like a flat tire, don't drive. And don't worry if the guy in On Road yells at you--he's the one who's gonna be looking for a new job tomorrow, not you.

Basically, I agree with Tractor Man lol.

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Farmerbob1's Comment
member avatar

As an ex steel mill maintenance mechanic, I know next to nothing about diesel engines, but air lines, fittings, wiring, pipes, and other simple, non-load-bearing components are easy-peasy if I have the right tools, or if I can cobble together the right tools.

If it's a critical component like brakes, and not a dead-easy fix like replacing Glad Hands, I am not touching it without a shop, and nobody is going to let me to my own work in a truck shop, so most important repairs get fixed by someone else.

The other day I did some of my own work. I was repowering a trailer with a badly bent bracket for the rear driver side mudflap. The mudflap itself was missing. The bracket was less than a half an inch from the tire tread. The other driver had moved only a couple miles with it, and apparently been lucky not to damage the tread. I was NOT moving the truck with the bracket hanging that close to the tire. One bump or heavy gust of wind from the passenger side, and that tire was dead meat. I was in Dodge City, KS. It was a pretty windy day. 45-50 MPH gusts.

I had been advised of the missing mud flap, and bought one in a truck stop on my way there. The bolts were still in the bracket.

Arrived, inspected the situation, and got some rope and a load lock from my truck.

Tied the load lock to the mud flap bracket with a bowline and about twenty turns of rope.

With the extra five feet or so of lever, Archimedes was right, I easily bent the bracket back into shape (3/16 or 1/4 inch @ 2x2 angle iron.)

The load lock bent a bit too, but not enough to make it useless.

The bolts were too rusted for me to remove with the tools on my truck. Channel locks and crescent wrench. No WD40, no socket set.

(I still have not put a real tool kit on my truck. Not sure if I ever will. Having too many tools may tempt me to do things I shouldn't.)

Contacted road rescue. They advised me to roll 3 miles to a nearby shop since my tire was no longer in danger.

Started rolling, and phone call as I got to the first stop light on the way to the shop.

Road Rescue tells me to turn back around and go back to the place I was. The service would come to me.

I went back and waited two hours instead of driving five minutes. (Grump, but whatever.)

For a mud flap.

But I am a company driver. That means I do what they tell me to do as long as it's not absurd.

At the same time, I do not give them an opportunity to tell me what to do for simple, easy fixes. Like bending the bracket back into proper shape.

The thing is, what I think is easy isn't going to be easy for some other people, and what a few people think is easy, won't be easy for me. If you're a 5'1" female who weighs 85 lbs, you probably aren't bending a mud flap bracket, even with a load lock as a lever. If you're an ex-offensive lineman for a college team, you might be able to bend it with a good pair of gloves, and no load lock.

Knowledge is also critical. You shouldn't try to fix things you don't understand. If you don't have a maintenance background and want to learn, talk to the mechanic who fixes it. Watch them, but stay out of their way. If you are polite and stay out of the way, most mechanics won't mind talking to you about what they are doing. Then you can decide if you want to try it yourself the next time.

I've put a broken/flapping cowling back on a Thermo King unit with a couple rolls of duct tape, then had the trailer repowered out from under me the next day before I could get it to a shop.

I've used rope to hold the muffler of my APU off the ground for a trip to Thermo King after it was nearly ripped off by snow in a parking lot.

I've used Romex to replace the door retaining chain on two trailer doors now. Semi-permanent fixes.

Are you going to make fixes like this? Maybe. Maybe not. It depends on your experience, comfort level with fixing things, physical characteristics, and what tools and parts you have.

APU:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

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