My first service experience as an O/O

by Mark Lee

 As I wrote last month, my truck was almost due for its first service. I’m happy to say that it was a pleasant experience. It didn’t go according to plan at first and I was about to blow a gasket within a couple of minutes of arriving at the dealership in Winnipeg.

I made the booking to coincide with dropping a load off in the city, so it was mid-morning when I arrived. Not a problem as I had advised them a day or so earlier when I made the booking. So upon arrival I went around the back and dropped my trailer. I then walked down to the check-in desk and having taken photos of the VIN number and odometer I was fully prepared for all the questions I would be asked.

So far so good – the guy at the desk was polite and informative and I had a warm and fuzzy feeling. While this was happening a technician took my keys and my truck went into the shop, making me feel warmer and fuzzier. Then it all started to go horribly wrong. I brought up my alignment issue and instead of hearing positive words I heard only one, the word ‘no.’ This was not a word I wanted to hear, the technician told me that as the truck had done more than 50,000 kms, that it was not something that they dealt with.

He went on to explain the reasons why and they all made sense, but I didn’t care about sensible responses, I only wanted to hear that they would take care of it. I had, after all, just spent a lot of money buying a truck from them and I wanted everything to be 100% how it should be. Now this technician must have taken a body language course as he sensed I was about to go off and he asked if I had notified anyone of the problem before.

I told him that it wasn’t something I noticed when I collected the truck, it was a windy day with a northeast wind and as I was heading southeast it was blowing me around a bit. I did pick up on it when I set out on my first trip; I was heading west with a fairly stiff northerly wind and the truck was still pulling to the right, so I called the salesman who I did the deal with and he said that it would be put right.

Now those were the words that Steve was waiting to hear and he said that I should go see the salesman and he would take care of it. They don’t do alignments on site, so they would have it taken care of by a partner company and after visiting the salesman, that’s exactly what happened.

Because I was aware of the alignment issue, I had been closely monitoring my tire wear. Visually there were no signs of any abnormality and running my hand across the tire had confirmed that. Usually with an alignment issue there will be a feathered wear pattern on the front tire or tires. Running your hand back and forth across the tire will feel smooth in one direction and rough in the other. This is a very useful diagnostic procedure and any alignment shop that doesn’t look at the tires to ascertain what is going on before making any adjustments is best avoided in my opinion.

So after the service was completed I set off to the alignment shop. The first thing the guy did was feel my steer tires and my warm and fuzzy feeling returned. He said there was no issue with the tire wear, so the misalignment hadn’t had much effect on the truck, which I was pleased to hear.

The truck went up on the ramps and some adjustments were made. The result was that I drove home in a dead straight line, so all’s well that ends well. Not quite. I went east on my next trip and parked for the night in Thunder Bay. The following morning I did my pre-trip and fired up the truck. Well, I tried to, except it didn’t want to start. It was cranking over fine, but would not catch. It did eventually start and I made the decision to carry on to Toronto and see how things developed.

I had a 50,000-lb load so elected for Hwy. 11 as it’s easier on the truck and I made it as far as North Bay that night. I shut her down and grabbed some beauty sleep. The next morning the same thing happened – it eventually fired up and then a warning came up on the dash display. Check fuel filter it said, so I did. I have one of those glass bowl filters and I drained the fuel from it, stripped it down and found nothing amiss, so I put it back together again, poured in the fuel I had drained and shut the hood.

I got behind the wheel, turned the key and it started as it should. I shut it down and tried again, it started just fine. So I set off and all was good until the first stoplight when the fuel filter warning came up on the dash again. The truck was running fine, so I carried on. It was Sunday so there was no point visiting the service agent in North Bay. I continued my journey, thinking that I was visit a dealer in Toronto and get it sorted, then my satellite beeped. It was a load offer. My outbound trailer was already going to our terminal and there would be a trailer waiting there to take me home.

With that in mind I revised my decision to get it fixed in Toronto to try to make it home. So far it hadn’t been any trouble once it was up and running and my load home was nice and light, so that’s what I did. Each morning I would purge the diesel from the filter, take it apart and refit it. The truck started fine once I had gone through that procedure, so I was confident that it would get me home – and it did.

I was having some home time when I got back, so I called the dealer to book the truck in and was put through to the same technician who worked on it before. He told me to bring it in whenever it was convenient and they would take care of it and that is exactly what they did. It turned out that the gasket that seals the filter bowl onto the housing was not uniform in size and it must’ve been allowing a bit of air in to the system, which under normal operating conditions wasn’t a problem. But when it was shut off for the night it interfered with the capillary action of the fuel lines (like holding your thumb over the end of a drinking straw, when you release the pressure, the liquid comes out) and the fuel was running back from the injectors, making it difficult to start the engine.

I have no complaints about how I was looked after at the dealership. On the contrary, they were professional every step of the way and I’m both pleased and confident for the future. It wasn’t a perfect start to my truck ownership experience, but that’s trucking.

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