Dealing with a truck breakdown is one of those things every trucker has to experience at least once. Getting stuck out on the highway with cargo waiting to be delivered is extremely stressful.
When working as a company driver within a team that is understanding and helpful in these situations, that might relieve you of some of the stress. But, if you’re left out on your own, it can be nerve-wracking.
While some malfunctions are impossible to predict, there are some that can be avoided by timely action.
1. Trouble with Tires
Tire troubles are the most common mishap that can lead to a truck breakdown, with over half of all roadside problems tracing back to them. Since tires are the only direct contact a truck makes with the ground, they are considered one of the essential parts of the vehicle. It’s only logical then that they can cause a lot of trouble if not taken care of properly.
It is advised that every truck driver includes the tire inspection in their pre-trip checklist. The things you should look out for during inspection are underinflated tires, low tread depth, and misaligned axels.
Image source: Freepik
2. Brake-related Issue
Brake-related problems are as frequent as they are scary. These mishaps are the most likely to pose a danger to other vehicles on the road. And road safety isn’t an issue that should be taken lightly. That’s why brakes need to be under consistent and appropriate maintenance. Truck brakes are under constant pressure and friction, so they wear down with time. The most common issues that can lead to brake malfunction are corrosion and wear, incorrect air pressure, overheated brakes, and internal water contamination.
3. Problem with Trailers
When driving a truck with a refrigerated trailer, any malfunction of the trailer can lead to losing the entire freight. If a problem does occur, the repairs must be done very quickly, because the temperature-controlled wares mustn’t remain in inadequate conditions for too long. Because of this, it’s much better to keep the trailer in perfect condition, inspect it before every trip, and monitor it closely during the haul.
4. Electrical System Trouble
The electrical system consists of three main parts – starter motor, battery, and alternator. The malfunction of any of these parts can get you stuck on the road. Without a working battery and/or starter motor, you can’t even start your vehicle. And with a faulty alternator, your battery is going to get drained out very quickly, and, again, you’ll get stuck.
So, you should always be on the lookout for any signs of problems with the electrical system. These include:
- power loss in the engine
- strange grinding noise under the hood
- strong sulfur smell
- clicking or whining sound when turning the key
- the starter not activating instantly when the key is inserted into the ignition.
Image source: Internationalusedtrucks
5. Fuel System Problems
The most common fuel-related reason a truck driver will have to stop unexpectedly is simply running out of fuel. This can be prevented by checking your tank regularly, of course. But, once in a while, everyone will miscalculate or simply forget to refill before it is too late. Other frequent problems include a dirty fuel filter or faulty pump. Early signs of a failing pump are sudden tugs at high speeds and uneven acceleration.
How to Act If Your Truck Breaks Down
It is practically impossible to prevent big-rig breakdowns entirely, even with all the safety measures. So, it’s good to have some sort of strategy for when a failure does happen. No solution can cover all the breakdown scenarios. It’s not exactly the same if you get stranded in the middle of a city, on a highway, or on a rural road. But there are three things you will always do in the case of an unexpected stop:
- put your hazard lights on
- move to the side of the road
- put out your warning triangles.
This way, you will avoid becoming a hazard to other vehicles. After that, you can safely approach coming up with a way to get your truck moving again.
How to Prevent Semi-Truck Breakdowns
As it was said throughout this post, the best way to prevent any truck breakdown is to do regular maintenance of your vehicle. This includes annual DOT inspections, but also pre-trip, en-route and post-trip inspections. The risk is never going to be at 0%, but this is the best way to minimize it.
Knowing your truck is in the best possible shape is one of those things that will make you feel more comfortable while spending a long time on the road. For some more tips that will enhance your trucking experience, take a look at this post.