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Preventable Emergency Road Service?

At a local Maintenance Council seminar the other day, FleetNet America shared some interesting statistics from the Emergency Road Service arena that can help focus your maintenance efforts and prevent costly breakdowns.

The most surprising thing is the number of preventable events FleetNet sees on a daily basis.

FleetNet America handles approximately 170,000 incidents per year, nearly 40% of which are tire related.  Most of these tire failures are not due to road hazards or tire quality problems; rather, the larger majority of tire failures are air pressure related.

Tire manufacturers say that a tire that is more than 10% low on air pressure is going to build excessive heat and run the risk of failure.  This is the reason we see more tire issues in the summer as opposed to the cooler periods of the year.

That means  more than 34,000 road failures are preventable (40% of 170,000 equals 68,000 tire failures, 50% of 68,000 equals 34,000 air pressure related), often by simply ensuring proper pre trip and post trip inspections.

At a conservative cost of $400 per road call, that's more than $13,000,000 in preventable repair cost!

Another major cause of breakdowns is starting problems, particularly in the winter.  Most of these can be traced to battery and electrical system maintenance. 

When the weather is mild, the electrical system has enough capacity to perform it's job of ensuring vehicles start and lights work properly, but the stress of cold weather reduces the strength of the batteries.  In addition, engine fluids get more viscous (stiffer) in cold weather which requires additional power from the batteries.  Combine this with batteries and cables with high resistance because they have not been properly maintained…the result is a no start condition.

Cables and connections should be checked to make sure that they are free from corrosion and that they are tight and in good condition and batteries should be load tested to make sure they do not have a weak cell which would further lower available amperage. It's also a good idea to check the starter draw on the unit.  This will give you a good indication of a starter that may give you a problem in the future.

Two other wintertime sources of break downs are the air system and the fuel system.

Air dryers should be checked to make sure they are operating properly.  Though air dryers require minimal maintenance, at some point in time desiccants lose their effectiveness and allow moisture to collect in the air system…the result is a frozen air system and stopped truck.

One suggestion is to ask,  "When was your air dryer checked or serviced?"

If you can't remember or do not have it noted, now might be the time to do it.

With fuel systems, careful attention to fuel line routing, use of heaters and additives in some applications can minimize problems.

The bottom line – quality maintenance programs for tires, electrical, air and fuel systems can significantly reduce roadside failures and will help reduce the cost of repairs, not to mention delays in deliveries.

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