Common Reasons Semi-Trucks Break Down and How to Prevent It

As a commercial truck driver, you know breakdowns are inevitable, and typically results in delays. common reasons for breakdownBreakdowns cost over-the-road truck drivers time and money due to waiting on maintenance or a tow truck, the cost of repairs and the downtime.

When truck drivers are broke down they must face weather conditions, other drivers, and many other hazards. Issues typically come up unannounced but when these issues do arise you should be well informed about these causes and know how to prevent them. By avoiding these setbacks, you can stay on the road and put money back into your pocket.

Common Reasons for Breakdowns

Most pre-trip inspections will prevent a breakdown from happening; however, that is not always the case. Some issues occur unexpected. Here are some common breakdown causes to be aware of.

  • Age: A big rig suffers a lot of wear and tear over the years with thousands of miles driven. Some older model trucks are more likely to break down because of their age and high mileage.
  • Alternator or Battery: If your lights are flickering while idling, or if the engine is getting harder to turn over, this could be mean the alternator or battery is failing.
  • Brakes: Brake systems are complicated and can have many reasons for failing; however, the most common is because of air leaks, internal water contamination, or external corrosion.
  • Clutch Cable: Clutch cables can corrode over time, and eventually break. When a clutch cable breaks, difficulties shifting and slipping gears can arise while driving. A mechanic will need to replace or repair the cable to prevent more damage from occurring.
  • Electrical: Typically, when an electrical problem is present, it could mean a dead battery, or it is a problem within the wiring system.
  • Engine: Older semi-trucks are likely to suffer engine problems if they were not maintained correctly. Newer semi-trucks are known to be eco-friendly and built to last longer than older truck models.
  • Radiator: If your truck is having trouble cooling down, this could indicate an issue with the radiator. When the radiator is not cooling the engine, it can cause damage to other components within the engine.
  • Refrigerated Trailers: Refrigerated trailers, also known as Reefer Units, are essential when shipping goods that need to be in a temperature-controlled freight trailer. This means repairs are required as soon as possible to protect the goods from being damaged. During transit it is essential to monitor any cab signals that show the trailer is not working correctly.
  • Oil Leakage or Burning: When the oil is leaking this means the engine is not getting enough oil and can cause friction causing a breakdown. If the oil is leaking into the engine, the oil burns and damages engine components. You may see smoke coming out from under the hood.
  • Tires: Wear and tear on the tires is expected. A truck driver may ignore tires during their pre-inspection checks. Most common tire issues are from under-inflation or the thread on the tires are too low.

Preventing Truck Breakdowns

To prevent breakdowns on the side of the road, ensure your pre-inspection checks are complete and keep your truck up-to-date on maintenance requirements. Pre-trip inspections are required every time you get back on the road. If you find a violation, or something wrong with your truck, get it into a mechanic to be checked out. You can expect to extend the life of your vehicle and prevent breakdowns when you are aware of potential causes of a breakdown.