Scary Over-the-Road Breakdowns That Will Put Your Equipment Out of Service

Unexpected, dangerous, scary… roadside breakdowns can pose many risks to drivers and other people whom they share the road with. Spooky season upon us. For this reason, our Star Breakdown Service (SBS) team decided to create a semi-trailer preventative maintenance guide to avoid over-the-road breakdowns.

Consider this… It’s late at night, you have a delivery deadline to meet and you’re hundreds of miles away from your destination. All of a sudden, something doesn’t feel right. There’s an unsettling noise coming from the back of the trailer you’re pulling. Your first instinct is to look in your side mirror and when you do, see an unsettling amount of smoke. You pull over, hop out of the truck to check out what’s going on. When you do so, you realize the right rear outside tire has blown and taken the right side mud flap with it. Not only are you out-of-service and can’t move but you might soon be late for your delivery window. What a nightmare, right?

Countless scenarios like this one could be avoided simply by performing a proper preventative maintenance check.

What are the experts saying?

“Breakdowns and failures are costly to every business, both financially and temporally,” SBS Director Byron Lay explains.

“Breakdown prevention only requires small amounts of time and money. If your business is struggling with failures or preventative maintenance, start by taking stock of the fleets PM dates, evaluate how many are past due and coming due in the next 30, 60, 90-day windows.”

Leading trailer maintenance experts in the industry would agree that focusing efforts and capital on a routine preventative maintenance plan will prevent the likelihood of breakdowns and save capital in the long run. 

“If fleet maintenance overwhelms you, you’ll probably want to pursue an outside entity to help create a preventative maintenance plan and execute it. If you would rather keep preventative maintenance in-house, a great start is to evaluate the process by which your fleet handles inspections. Are there repeat failures? Could these be prevented and added to the inspection process?” Lay added.

A proactive, preventive approach to fleet maintenance will not only help avoid over-the-road breakdowns, but also reduce downtime, save capital, improve compliance, and increase efficiency.

Tricks Tips or Treats?

Let’s get into some tips to help you and your fleet run better, safer and smarter.

TIRES: In the last three years, 39 percent of all SBS events have been caused by tire issues, and 47 percent of our customers’ breakdown expenses were related to tires—that’s a lot! 

When it comes to compliance, law enforcement assigns hefty point penalties for issues regarding tires. Improper tread depth, overinflation, or underinflation are contributors to citations. As well as visually inspecting tires for road hazard damage in tread or objects in the tread, it’s also good practice to measure tread depth and ensure tires have proper pressure. This practice goes for new and older tires. All tires should be inspected before each trip.

LIGHTS: Luckily, lights are relatively low-cost; that’s if you’re able to detect light failures during routine preventative maintenance checks properly. Other common issues that arise due to electrical failures are wire failures and seven-way connectors. Checking that all trailer lights are operable and cleaning your trailer plug connector prior to each trip could help you avoid being put out of service.

AIR SYSTEMS + WHEEL-END: These issues tie into our first set of tips with tires. Wheel-end issues include leaky hubcaps, wheel seals, lack of lubrication, and worn-out tires. Problems with these components left unidentified or dealt with could lead to expensive and dangerous breakdowns and wreak havoc on tire wear. Some tips to help avoid an unscheduled maintenance event due to wheel-end issues would be to inspect wheel-ends during preventive maintenance checks and prior to each trip. Check for signs of lubricant leakage around hubcaps.

Key Takeaways

Whether it’s spooky season or not, unexpected breakdowns can be scary. Adopting a regularly scheduled preventative maintenance program tailored to your trailer fleet type, as well as driver diligence in pre- and post-rip inspections can help avoid over-the-road breakdowns. 

“All companies, big and small, have opportunities to improve their preventative maintenance programs!” Lay added, “Every small step taken helps prevent future failures!”

Many trailer breakdowns can be avoided with preventative maintenance and great pre- and post-trip best practices, however, some breakdowns are still inevitable. If you find yourself in need of 24/7 roadside assistance, our SBS team can help. To learn more about SBS, click HERE.

For more trailer maintenance tips and tricks, stay tuned on our blog.