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Out-of-service rates for new engines tough trade-off for cleaner air

It’s that time of year again. Hopefully you have all overindulged over the holidays and are now starting your New Year’s Resolutions. I have a couple.



It’s that time of year again. Hopefully you have all overindulged over the holidays and are now starting your New Year’s Resolutions. I have a couple.

The first is to quit the smokes, but the second is going to affect all of you. I am actually going to try and put a positive slant on this column and bring you good news each month.

Now statistically most resolutions fail before the month gets into double digits, so to improve the odds I’m going to have to narrow down my choices. I was going to try and keep them both, but I’m missing my smokes and I’m feeling a little grumpy, so normal service is about to resume.

So what has got me bent out of shape? Regulations of course, specifically emissions.

I’ve just read a survey by the very well respected J.D. Power & Associates. It tells a very sad story, one that has a chance of changing the face of trucking as we know it.

Reading the survey, I was shocked to discover that the out-of-service numbers for 2012 model Class 8 trucks was 46%. Yes, that’s right, 46%. There was nearly a one in two chance that your new $140,000 purchase would be in the shop for repair within its first year.

Not only is there a 46% failure rate, the average length of time the trucks were in the shop was 13 days.

Now, there will have been quite a few cases where trucks were in and out of the shop on the same day, so in the world of averages, if some were only in for one day, others were in the shop for a whole month.

A month without any earnings from the investment is a month of frustration and despair.

This sad story emphasizes one thing: trucks today are far too complicated and not enough people know how to fix them when they inevitably break down.

Something has to be done about this situation before companies start going to the wall through circumstances beyond their control. It’s time to take control, but how? As I see it there are two, maybe three, options. Firstly we could all get together and force the regulators to take notice that their regulations are strangling our industry and could have serious implications to the whole economy, because as we all know, trucks keep our economy moving.

Or we could keep what we’ve got and rip all the emissions junk off the engines and go back to relatively trouble-free motoring, but that’s illegal and we cannot advocate that. If enough people got together and made themselves heard, maybe we could make it so that it wasn’t illegal, but unless there are some big changes to the way we’re represented, it’ll never happen, so we’re left with another option.

Glider kits, they could be the future. I can see that’s raised a few eyebrows and got more than a few of you shaking your heads, especially those of you that remember the gliders of the past. But think about it, you can get a brand new rolling glider kit from several of the manufacturers. You source a pre-emission engine from your manufacturer of choice, bolt it together and you go to work.

You don’t get any failures from EGR valves, EGR coolers, variable geometry turbos, turbo actuators, DPF filters, SCR and all the other mumbo jumbo that contributes to the vast majority of the 99% of breakdowns that affect 46% of all new trucks.

What you get is a solid, robust truck that gets the job done like it’s supposed to do. However, in Canada, we don’t have that option. Environment Canada has a rule in place that a chassis must have an engine of the same model year’s emissions level.
Obviously, the tree huggers have more power than our industry. “No,” they cry, “the dirty exhaust will kill babies and small furry animals.”

They speak and everyone listens. We, on the other hand, say absolutely nothing and of course, nobody hears us. The simple facts are this: a properly functioning pre-emission engine puts out far less harmful exhaust gases than a truck with a malfunctioning EGR system that belches thick black smoke from its stacks.

And without all the emissions junk on an engine, it’s far more likely for that engine to function properly.

They may puff out a bit of black smoke every once in a while, but that’s just a sad fact of life. There has to be a compromise.

The regulators cannot expect the trucking industry to be on the receiving end of the compromises all the time. You cannot make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. We need to have a voice as loud as that of our opposition, rather than keeping quiet as we head into the poor house on the back of a tow truck.

Oh, and before I forget, Happy New Year.


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3 Comments » for Out-of-service rates for new engines tough trade-off for cleaner air
  1. Bill says:

    Great article, I think you forgot to mention the thousands of dollars of upfront monies you pay for having all the emission control devices added to the cost of a new truck. If they stopped the regulations now, perhaps we could get a handle on how to fix broken trucks quickly by stocking correct parts, then give manufacturers a chance to improve durability and reliability. No such luck, 2014 will bring new challenges, as will 2017. Greenhouse gas panic has set in and the great hoax of man caused global warming has left the station. It is a full court press to wipe out anything that burns fossil fuels by driving cost and complexity into outer space.

  2. Rob says:

    Maybe technology hasn’t quite kept up with the demands of the tree huggers but I believe they will get it right and we can have both the simple combustion engine and no emission control systems. How many remember the 14 lb cell phone, now it fits in your ear.
    Going backwards will only result in cities being choked with fowl air and pollutants. I watched a show yesterday where they were looking out of a 16 story window over Hong Kong and there was nothing to see but a thick blanket of smog. If that

  3. John Pringle says:

    I have rarely heard the Republicans called tree hugger but just so there is no rewriting of history, these regulations were passed in 2004 with a Republican House, Senate, and President. It is amazing how the Republicans seem to forget what they did and blame everyone else.
    Trucking regulations, and down times on new products is always high I remember the N14, we changed injectors in every truck at least one a week.
    The “E” model Cat Rocker arm bolts, rocker arms, Cams. front housings Head gaskets. They never lasted a year and all these thing had to be done.
    Lets not get to the sky is falling on every issue, it gets to be a little dumb.

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