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Dealing with the unexpected


My trials and tribulations as an owner/operator have continued. When I took my truck to the dealer for its annual service and general check-up, an oil leak was discovered that involved removing the transmission and a lot of general messing around.

The result was that I lost my truck for over a week.

Two weekends were lost and that impacted my revenue dramatically as I generally leave on a Sunday afternoon, so I lost another trip. But that’s trucking.

I got my truck back and to be honest I was not impressed with the condition that it was in. In order to get to the rear of the engine the doghouse had to be removed from the inside of the cab. In the process of doing this, some of my stuff had to be removed.

Had I known this was part of the process I would’ve removed it myself, but I never knew so I never did. Whoever did move my stuff obviously wasn’t too happy about having to do it either, as some damage occurred. I pointed this out to the service representative and he took pictures and said all the right things to try and keep me from going over the cam.

The best was yet to come though. After returning home with my bobtail I sent an availability message in to the office and they dispatched me on a load the next day.

When pulling away I noticed a slight vibration, which continued to get worse as the day went on. It was more noticeable when in eighth gear as that’s the point when the truck starts getting down the road. I inspected everything obvious and could find nothing loose, so I called the dealer.

They said to bring it back in and they would take a look, so I set off on my way again.

At highway speed it was fine, but as soon as I stopped and started off again the vibration came, so much so that it became a shake and there was no way I was going to continue like this. So I pulled into a truck stop and put on my coveralls.

Now I’m not the most streamlined chap, so sliding under the truck is not something I do for fun, but there was something wrong in my driveline and I needed to figure out what before I drove another mile.

It wasn’t long before I discovered my problem. The hanger bearing was about to come away from its mounting on the cross-member.

I called the dealer and told them the problem and they referred me to the call-out service, so I called them. The only way to deal with the problem was to send out a tow truck and bring my truck to the nearest dealership, they told me.

Oh well, if that’s what it takes, then it is what it is…except they wanted to know how I was going to pay. I told them I wasn’t paying a cent – it was down to the incompetence of the dealer and it was on them.

They disagreed as there was no indication on the job order that the hanger bearing had been removed. However they did say that if it was proven that it was due to their mistake, I would be fully reimbursed for any expenses.

Now that’s all fine and dandy, but it wasn’t what I had planned, as you can imagine. I also had the inconvenience of a hot load that needed delivering and had to call in to dispatch for them to send out another truck to grab my trailer and take it to the customer. This was my priority, so once I did that I had time to ponder the situation. Did I really need towing for what was a simple nut-tightening exercise?

My thoughts were, no I didn’t. All I needed was another pair of bolts to replace the ones that had worked loose. Luckily there was a garage on site, the guy inside gave me exactly what I needed and with the help of a ratchet strap to hold the very heavy driveshaft in place, I replaced the bolts. I must confess I didn’t think of the ratchet strap method.

I had run out of curse words and retired to my cab after unsuccessfully trying to hold the driveshaft up with my raised knee and putting the bolts through the holes whilst lying under the truck.

Fortunately a friend phoned me and came up with the ratchet strap idea. It then took me all of five minutes to get back on the road.

I called the shop manager at my carrier and explained what had happened and what I had done to remedy the problem and he said it would be okay to run back home. The first leg would be bobtail anyway as my trailer had been picked up by another truck. And that is what I did. I ran it straight back to the dealer and handed the truck over to them to put right. I have to say the manner in which they dealt with my issue was very much to my satisfaction.

The technician that neglected to tighten the bolts, also happened to be the one that messed up my cab and he was disciplined.

I am led to believe that he no longer works at the dealership as they take this kind of thing very seriously and to be honest I was very lucky; the consequences of a driveshaft coming apart and digging into the road could be deadly. 

***

A fourth generation trucker and trucking journalist, Mark Lee uses his 25 years of transcontinental trucking in Europe, Asia, North Africa and now North America to provide an alternative view of life on the road.


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