Adventures with a Broken Truck!

by TruckerMike

Well, it finally happened. My trainer and I are having truck problems. We are currently sitting at our company terminal while our truck gets worked on. It's a total bummer being down, but we each got a motel room (our company owns a motel, so we stay at a big discount), and are just being lazy for a while. Our company also has a fantastic terminal , so we grabbed some great food (free of charge as I had a coupon left over from orientation), watched a movie in our company's movie theater, played a little pool, and are now just relaxing. Our truck is supposed to be done late tonight, then we're getting a refrigerator installed tomorrow morning. Hopefully we'll be back on the road after that!

So, here's how it all went down. Last week while on our last run before getting my trainer home for some much needed home time, we couldn't get the truck started. When we turned the ignition, absolutely nothing would happen. It wouldn't crank or anything. After about 30 minutes, my trainer decided to try it one more time, and it worked! Ok, weird, but we were mainly just concerned with getting him home. We'll have it checked out later.

After my trainers home time, the truck started up with no problems. We picked up a high value load,and were off to Indiana. I drove for a while with no problems, then hit the sleeper while my trainer drove. I woke up in the middle of his drive time hearing a "humming" noise. I didn't know what it was, but was too tired to really care. So I went back to sleep. But shortly thereafter, I felt the truck turn off the expressway. I went up front and found out the windshield wiper fluid motor was stuck in the "on" position. It just went on by itself and wouldn't shut off.So we pulled into a truck stop to see if we could fix it. There was no fuse listed in the manual to shut off the motor, so we were forced to unplug the wire leading to it. Problem solved right? Nope.

While we were fussing with the wiper problem, our truck shut off. The truck is on a timer and will automatically turn off if it's been idling too long unless we hit a button, which we forgot to do. Then of course, the truck wouldn't start again. To make matters even worse, we now had a headlight on the passenger side out, and a fog light on the drivers side out. We switched the bulbs out, but as expected, that didn't work. We were having some major electrical issues.

We called our "road assist" team, and they called out a tow truck for us. The tow truck driver said he was going to give us a "pull start." this consists of putting a chain on the back of the tow truck, attaching it to the front of our truck, then pulling us along to about 5mph so we could "pop" the clutch. This is a round-about way to start the engine. About $300 later, we were back on our way, with a burned out headlight, and not being unable to turn the truck off. But remember, we were on a high value load. We just had to hold out and get our delivery in.

We finally made our delivery without getting stopped by the police or pulled into a weight station due to the headlight. Phew! We were instructed to head to a truck stop and wait for a load going by our terminal so we could get the truck fixed. Well, we got to the truck stop, but eventually the truck quit idling on its own. Great, now we were stuck again. It would have taken a couple hours for a tow truck to get to our location and it would have cost a few hundred dollars...again. We hopped on the CB to ask if any drivers could give us a pull start. Initially, we were greeted with the "radio rambos" who just started yelling and mocking our situation. But finally, a good guy came through. A driver from Star Transportation came to our aid and gave us a pull start. He was a real nice guy and we were fortunate he was willing to take the time out of his day to help us.

Our dispatcher said to take it to a local Freightliner dealership, but the only dealership in the area had a 4 day backlog. So, he finally told us to just deadhead (empty trailer) to the terminal and get it fixed there as they had no backlog. We made it with no issues and are currently having it worked on.

There is actually a recall on the truck for the exact problem we're having. These new Freightliner Cascadias leak at the windshield a bit when it's raining. Since we were in a ton of rain the last few days, a lot of water was leaking in. The water then finds its way to an on-board computer inside the dash which can cause a whole slew of problems, including the problems we were having. The repair shop is a little mystified about our headlight and fog light though, they haven't seen that happen with this problem.

Anyway, it's costing us about 30 hours of downtime. We are having a fridge installed while we're here, which is going to save us a ton of money from eating out all the time. I'm hoping this will be the only breakdown I deal with while in training, but this is all just part of the job. Hopefully we'll be rolling again soon!

Until next time, drive safely!



To drive with an empty trailer. After delivering your load you will deadhead to a shipper to pick up your next load.


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.


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.
by Brett Aquila

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