Hardworking mechanic rolling tire in order to change it on truck. He is in garage of import and export firm.

Top 3 Causes of Truck Repair Delays

What fleet doesn’t want to maximize uptime? But a host of factors need to come together to ensure that trucks are kept on the road as much as possible and that repairs are completed in a timely manner.

During last fall’s meeting of the American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council, the Service Provider Study Group led a session focused on maximizing uptime.

Panelists talked about what causes delays in getting a repair completed. Communication, or lack of it, was cited as one of the biggest causes. This could be unclear communication from the driver to the point of contact at the service provider, or between dispatch, the service advisor, and the driver. Everyone involved in the repair process must have accurate and complete information if a problem is to be resolved quickly.

Improper diagnosis and parts availability were two other common causes of delays in the repair process cited in the session.

One way to improve the repair process is to give service providers — even those outside a fleet’s normal service network — access to a vehicle’s service history so they can see what work has been done on the vehicle in the past. Past history often provides insight into current problems.

Also discussed were areas where technician skills need improvement. Number one on the list was electrical diagnostics, along with being able to understand and interpret data — knowing what a code means and what causes a code to appear.

Training in these areas, however, seems to be a moving target, as technology is changing so rapidly it can be difficult to keep technicians properly trained. There is more technology and complexity on today’s trucks, and diagnostic methods have not kept up with all the changes.

While hands-on, in-classroom training may be the most effective, it is also the most time-consuming, and the COVID-19 pandemic has caused much in-person training to be canceled. Online training and training videos are valuable alternatives to help keep technician skills sharp.

Arming everyone involved in a repair with accurate information is essential. Make sure that the terminology being used is understood by all parties. For example, technicians are taught very specific verbiage to use when turning in a parts request – but that language is not necessarily the way the part is listed in the parts catalog. That disconnect can lead to the wrong part being ordered, which of course slows a repair down. The recently developed heavy-duty Product Information Exchange Standard lays out product information in a standardized format that takes the guesswork out of product selection. 

Service bays need to be equipped with computers, and those computers need to have the most current version of diagnostic software. Technicians also should be able to access the internet from the bay so they can view installation videos or find information when needed on how to properly complete a repair.

When it comes to vehicle repair, a variety of factors must come together to ensure the repair is completed properly and in a timely manner. Clear communication, access to data, and properly trained technicians are three key factors to focus on in order to improve the repair process for all parties and meet uptime goals.

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COVID-19 Complaints Raise Risk for Fleet Managers

It’s been barely a year since the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic set in. Yet the number of coronavirus-related employment complaints filed across the country has already sailed well over 1,000. That means how the pandemic negatively affects trucking’s workers — especially drivers on the front lines of America’s response to the crisis — is becoming a risk factor for fleet managers.

Google the topic, and it will soon be abundantly clear that law firms are all over this issue, with some providing free informational resources on their websites.

One such could be labeled “Cautionary Tales,” as it goes into detail on how lawsuit after lawsuit came into being due to the pandemic, yes, but also in many cases due to management failures to act or adapt to the times.  

Here are some compelling entries from the COVID-19 Related Workplace Litigation Tracker posted by Barnes & Thornburg LLP:

Watts v. Estes Express Lines Inc. 

A dockworker alleged he requested permission not to report to work while coworkers remained contagious, and that he was ordered to return to work the next day. He then requested to only work an eight-hour shift to minimize the risk of contracting COVID-19 from first-shift employees. He claims that he was terminated for refusing to return to work to avoid exposure to an area that had been occupied by coworkers who had contracted COVID-19. He also alleges the company failed to properly clean the area, thereby intentionally exposing him to COVID-19. 

Samuel v. JB Hunt Transport Inc. 

A truck driver alleges he was terminated in violation of the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA). The plaintiff alleges that, in conflict with a state-issued order, drivers were not being provided adequate PPE or wearing masks. He also claims that he was forced to work around other drivers who had symptoms of COVID-19. The plaintiff alleges that his “complaints about the health and safety of workers was ignored.” Later, the plaintiff was involved in a work-related accident, which he claims was not his fault but that his employer determined was “preventable.” A few days later, he was terminated allegedly “in retaliation for the complaints he made about health and safety issues in violation of the CEPA.”

Luna v. Penske Logistics LLC et al. 

The plaintiff, on behalf of himself and a putative class of current and former non-exempt employees in California, sued his employer for various violations of the California Labor Code. In particular, the plaintiff alleges that non-exempt employees are not paid for time spent waiting in line to be screened for COVID-19 with temperature checks. Based on that and other allegations, the plaintiff claims the defendant failed to pay both minimum and overtime wages due, and thus failed to provide accurate wage statements. The plaintiff also alleges that after complaining about the company’s failure to take the appropriate precautionary measures and adhere to COVID-19 public safety guidance, he was terminated shortly after. The plaintiff alleges, on his own behalf, that he was wrongfully terminated in violation of public policy.

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Amazon gets CCI nod to acquire 49% stake in

When, while the lovely valley teems with vapor around me, and the meridian sun strikes the upper surface of the impenetrable foliage of my trees, and but a few stray gleams steal into the inner sanctuary, I throw myself down among the tall grass by the trickling stream; and, as I lie close to the earth, a thousand unknown plants are noticed by me: when I hear the buzz of the little world among the stalks, and grow familiar with the countless indescribable forms of the insects and flies, then I feel the presence of the Almighty, who formed us in his own image, and the breath of that universal love which bears and sustains us, as it floats around us in an eternity of bliss; and then, my friend, when darkness overspreads my eyes, and heaven and earth seem to dwell in my soul and absorb its power, like the form of a beloved mistress, then I often think with longing, Oh, would I could describe these conceptions, could impress upon paper all that is living so full and warm within me, that it might be the mirror of my soul, as my soul is the mirror of the infinite God!

O my friend — but it is too much for my strength — I sink under the weight of the splendor of these visions! A wonderful serenity has taken possession of my entire soul, like these sweet mornings of spring which I enjoy with my whole heart. I am alone, and feel the charm of existence in this spot, which was created for the bliss of souls like mine.

I am so happy, my dear friend, so absorbed in the exquisite sense of mere tranquil existence, that I neglect my talents. I should be incapable of drawing a single stroke at the present moment; and yet I feel that I never was a greater artist than now.

When, while the lovely valley teems with vapor around me, and the meridian sun strikes the upper surface of the impenetrable foliage of my trees, and but a few stray gleams steal into the inner sanctuary, I throw myself down among the tall grass by the trickling stream; and, as I lie close to the earth, a thousand unknown plants are noticed by me: when I hear the buzz of the little world among the stalks, and grow familiar with the countless indescribable forms of the insects and flies, then I feel the presence of the Almighty, who formed us in his own image, and the breath of that universal love which bears and sustains us, as it floats around us in an eternity of bliss; and then, my friend, when darkness overspreads my eyes, and heaven and earth seem to dwell in my soul and absorb its power, like the form of a beloved mistress, then I often think with longing, Oh, would I could describe these conceptions, could impress upon paper all that is living so full and warm within me.

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Clearing Corporations get SEBI nod to invest in overnight funds

When, while the lovely valley teems with vapor around me, and the meridian sun strikes the upper surface of the impenetrable foliage of my trees, and but a few stray gleams steal into the inner sanctuary, I throw myself down among the tall grass by the trickling stream; and, as I lie close to the earth, a thousand unknown plants are noticed by me: when I hear the buzz of the little world among the stalks, and grow familiar with the countless indescribable forms of the insects and flies, then I feel the presence of the Almighty, who formed us in his own image, and the breath of that universal love which bears and sustains us, as it floats around us in an eternity of bliss; and then, my friend, when darkness overspreads my eyes, and heaven and earth seem to dwell in my soul and absorb its power, like the form of a beloved mistress, then I often think with longing, Oh, would I could describe these conceptions, could impress upon paper all that is living so full and warm within me, that it might be the mirror of my soul, as my soul is the mirror of the infinite God!

O my friend — but it is too much for my strength — I sink under the weight of the splendor of these visions! A wonderful serenity has taken possession of my entire soul, like these sweet mornings of spring which I enjoy with my whole heart. I am alone, and feel the charm of existence in this spot, which was created for the bliss of souls like mine.

I am so happy, my dear friend, so absorbed in the exquisite sense of mere tranquil existence, that I neglect my talents. I should be incapable of drawing a single stroke at the present moment; and yet I feel that I never was a greater artist than now.

When, while the lovely valley teems with vapor around me, and the meridian sun strikes the upper surface of the impenetrable foliage of my trees, and but a few stray gleams steal into the inner sanctuary, I throw myself down among the tall grass by the trickling stream; and, as I lie close to the earth, a thousand unknown plants are noticed by me: when I hear the buzz of the little world among the stalks, and grow familiar with the countless indescribable forms of the insects and flies, then I feel the presence of the Almighty, who formed us in his own image, and the breath of that universal love which bears and sustains us, as it floats around us in an eternity of bliss; and then, my friend, when darkness overspreads my eyes, and heaven and earth seem to dwell in my soul and absorb its power, like the form of a beloved mistress, then I often think with longing, Oh, would I could describe these conceptions, could impress upon paper all that is living so full and warm within me.

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Shabnam Dhillion, wife of RSSB chief Gurinder Dhillon, passes away in London

When, while the lovely valley teems with vapor around me, and the meridian sun strikes the upper surface of the impenetrable foliage of my trees, and but a few stray gleams steal into the inner sanctuary, I throw myself down among the tall grass by the trickling stream; and, as I lie close to the earth, a thousand unknown plants are noticed by me: when I hear the buzz of the little world among the stalks, and grow familiar with the countless indescribable forms of the insects and flies, then I feel the presence of the Almighty, who formed us in his own image, and the breath of that universal love which bears and sustains us, as it floats around us in an eternity of bliss; and then, my friend, when darkness overspreads my eyes, and heaven and earth seem to dwell in my soul and absorb its power, like the form of a beloved mistress, then I often think with longing, Oh, would I could describe these conceptions, could impress upon paper all that is living so full and warm within me, that it might be the mirror of my soul, as my soul is the mirror of the infinite God!

O my friend — but it is too much for my strength — I sink under the weight of the splendor of these visions! A wonderful serenity has taken possession of my entire soul, like these sweet mornings of spring which I enjoy with my whole heart. I am alone, and feel the charm of existence in this spot, which was created for the bliss of souls like mine.

I am so happy, my dear friend, so absorbed in the exquisite sense of mere tranquil existence, that I neglect my talents. I should be incapable of drawing a single stroke at the present moment; and yet I feel that I never was a greater artist than now.

When, while the lovely valley teems with vapor around me, and the meridian sun strikes the upper surface of the impenetrable foliage of my trees, and but a few stray gleams steal into the inner sanctuary, I throw myself down among the tall grass by the trickling stream; and, as I lie close to the earth, a thousand unknown plants are noticed by me: when I hear the buzz of the little world among the stalks, and grow familiar with the countless indescribable forms of the insects and flies, then I feel the presence of the Almighty, who formed us in his own image, and the breath of that universal love which bears and sustains us, as it floats around us in an eternity of bliss; and then, my friend, when darkness overspreads my eyes, and heaven and earth seem to dwell in my soul and absorb its power, like the form of a beloved mistress, then I often think with longing, Oh, would I could describe these conceptions, could impress upon paper all that is living so full and warm within me.

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Star India reports Rs 1,216 crore loss in FY19; IPL expenses touch Rs 4,000 crore

When, while the lovely valley teems with vapor around me, and the meridian sun strikes the upper surface of the impenetrable foliage of my trees, and but a few stray gleams steal into the inner sanctuary, I throw myself down among the tall grass by the trickling stream; and, as I lie close to the earth, a thousand unknown plants are noticed by me: when I hear the buzz of the little world among the stalks, and grow familiar with the countless indescribable forms of the insects and flies, then I feel the presence of the Almighty, who formed us in his own image, and the breath of that universal love which bears and sustains us, as it floats around us in an eternity of bliss; and then, my friend, when darkness overspreads my eyes, and heaven and earth seem to dwell in my soul and absorb its power, like the form of a beloved mistress, then I often think with longing, Oh, would I could describe these conceptions, could impress upon paper all that is living so full and warm within me, that it might be the mirror of my soul, as my soul is the mirror of the infinite God!

O my friend — but it is too much for my strength — I sink under the weight of the splendor of these visions! A wonderful serenity has taken possession of my entire soul, like these sweet mornings of spring which I enjoy with my whole heart. I am alone, and feel the charm of existence in this spot, which was created for the bliss of souls like mine.

I am so happy, my dear friend, so absorbed in the exquisite sense of mere tranquil existence, that I neglect my talents. I should be incapable of drawing a single stroke at the present moment; and yet I feel that I never was a greater artist than now.

When, while the lovely valley teems with vapor around me, and the meridian sun strikes the upper surface of the impenetrable foliage of my trees, and but a few stray gleams steal into the inner sanctuary, I throw myself down among the tall grass by the trickling stream; and, as I lie close to the earth, a thousand unknown plants are noticed by me: when I hear the buzz of the little world among the stalks, and grow familiar with the countless indescribable forms of the insects and flies, then I feel the presence of the Almighty, who formed us in his own image, and the breath of that universal love which bears and sustains us, as it floats around us in an eternity of bliss; and then, my friend, when darkness overspreads my eyes, and heaven and earth seem to dwell in my soul and absorb its power, like the form of a beloved mistress, then I often think with longing, Oh, would I could describe these conceptions, could impress upon paper all that is living so full and warm within me.

demo-attachment-967-nastuh-abootalebi-284882-unsplash

Xiaomi posts slowest-ever revenue growth in third-quarter

When, while the lovely valley teems with vapor around me, and the meridian sun strikes the upper surface of the impenetrable foliage of my trees, and but a few stray gleams steal into the inner sanctuary, I throw myself down among the tall grass by the trickling stream; and, as I lie close to the earth, a thousand unknown plants are noticed by me: when I hear the buzz of the little world among the stalks, and grow familiar with the countless indescribable forms of the insects and flies, then I feel the presence of the Almighty, who formed us in his own image, and the breath of that universal love which bears and sustains us, as it floats around us in an eternity of bliss; and then, my friend, when darkness overspreads my eyes, and heaven and earth seem to dwell in my soul and absorb its power, like the form of a beloved mistress, then I often think with longing, Oh, would I could describe these conceptions, could impress upon paper all that is living so full and warm within me, that it might be the mirror of my soul, as my soul is the mirror of the infinite God!

O my friend — but it is too much for my strength — I sink under the weight of the splendor of these visions! A wonderful serenity has taken possession of my entire soul, like these sweet mornings of spring which I enjoy with my whole heart. I am alone, and feel the charm of existence in this spot, which was created for the bliss of souls like mine.

I am so happy, my dear friend, so absorbed in the exquisite sense of mere tranquil existence, that I neglect my talents. I should be incapable of drawing a single stroke at the present moment; and yet I feel that I never was a greater artist than now.

When, while the lovely valley teems with vapor around me, and the meridian sun strikes the upper surface of the impenetrable foliage of my trees, and but a few stray gleams steal into the inner sanctuary, I throw myself down among the tall grass by the trickling stream; and, as I lie close to the earth, a thousand unknown plants are noticed by me: when I hear the buzz of the little world among the stalks, and grow familiar with the countless indescribable forms of the insects and flies, then I feel the presence of the Almighty, who formed us in his own image, and the breath of that universal love which bears and sustains us, as it floats around us in an eternity of bliss; and then, my friend, when darkness overspreads my eyes, and heaven and earth seem to dwell in my soul and absorb its power, like the form of a beloved mistress, then I often think with longing, Oh, would I could describe these conceptions, could impress upon paper all that is living so full and warm within me.

a mud tire for pickups and trucks and a passenger tire side by side together, for summer. Two wheels close- up , long elongated concept layout copy space on a black background.

Are Wide-Base Tires Still Worth the Effort?

When they first appeared on the market, wide-base single tires were touted as fuel- and weight-saving wonders. Nobody disputes the weight savings, but recent versions of low-rolling-resistance dual tires have significantly narrowed the wide singles lead on fuel efficiency. As a result, a fair number of fleets have given up on wide-base tires, unwilling to put up with what they saw as rapid wear, less-than-optimal re-tradability, and driver concerns about traction and being left stranded by a blow-out.

Many other fleets, however, have stuck with their wide singles and report great tire life, great fuel mileage, and a satisfactory ownership experience. What gives? Is it the tire? Is it the truck? Is it the fleet’s tire maintenance program?

It’s probably a bit of all three.

Mike Beckett, president of MD Alignment Services, makes a living solving his customers’ tire wear and vehicle handling problems. He’s seen every tire wear issue you can imagine, so he understands the causes — and it’s usually not the tire, he says.

“Wide-base singles work better for some people than others,” he says. “I think what separates the two is the ability to tightly control the operation and the tire’s working environment. You have to have the right inflation pressure, you have to use the right axles, and you have to keep the alignment right. Fleets that stay on top of all that are usually successful.”

We have previously reported on Beckett’s assertion that thin-walled axle tubes and lighter-weight axles are susceptible to flexing that can cause rapid wear of a tire’s inner shoulder. He says the phenomenon is present on drive and trailer axles running dual as well as wide-base tires, but it’s more pronounced in single tires, especially those mounted on large-offset wheels.

“When the axle deflects upward, the bottom of the tire scoots out. When it scoots back in, it chops the inside edge off a wide-base tire or the inside edge off the inside tire in a dual assembly,” he says. “Two-inch offset wheels can exacerbate the problem by pushing the load center further outboard, adding a greater cantilever effect on the axle tube, causing a temporary negative camber condition as the axle flexes.”

Lately, he has been suggesting fleets that are having problems with inner shoulder wear take steps to stiffen the axles by welding a section of angle-iron across the top of the center section of the axle tube and two shorter pieces of angle iron outboard of the suspension.

“Customers tell us it solves the inside shoulder wear problems,” Beckett tells HDT. “If you want the benefits of wide-based tires but not the exaggerated inner shoulder wear, you should probably pay attention to your axle specifications. Opt for the thicker axle tubes and eat the 20 extra pounds.”

Beckett’s assertion is disputed by some suspension and axle manufacturers, but he stands by it.

Michelin’s guidance on wide-single tires is similar to Beckett’s. Wide-base singles are subject to the same operational dynamics as dual tires. Tire pressure, vehicle load, and alignment, operational application, and road type all have an impact on how a tire wears and performs, Michelin says.

“Like steer tires that are mounted in a single assembly, wide-single tires on the drive or trailer axles demand the same attention and care,” says Karl Remec, business segment manager, long-distance transportation, at Michelin North America.

Mechanical deficiencies

Tires, as we’ve noted many times, usually don’t self-destruct. They exhibit wear characteristics imposed by external forces, such as bad alignment or loose or worn suspension components. Tires respond to their environment, and if the environment isn’t conducive to a long and happy life, the tire suffers the consequences.

Beckett says dual tires and wide-base singles respond the same way to various mechanical problems, but the signs of wear are usually amplified because there’s only one tread face rather than two across which the signs are distributed.

“They aren’t necessarily more susceptible to wear, they just show the signs more clearly,” he says. “They seem to be less forgiving than dual tires.”

Many tire problems can be traced to mechanical conditions in the vehicle, so to obtain maximized tire performance, vehicles must be properly maintained, and that includes drive-axle and trailer-axle alignment – practices that are not widespread among fleets.

“Alignment refers not only to the various angles of the steer axle geometry but also to the tracking of all axles on a vehicle,” says Michelin’s Remec. “The dual purpose of proper alignment is to minimize tire wear and to maximize predictable vehicle handling and driver control. Along with misalignment, improper inflation pressure and the inappropriate use of a tire/retread design for a particular application can all limit the life of a tire.”

Owner-operator Henry Albert, who aggressively pursues his fuel economy target of 10+ mpg, swears by his wide-base single tires. Last fall he retired a set of Michelin X One Energy drive tires after 380,000 miles. He says there were still 3/32 of tread rubber left, but with winter approaching he wanted a little more rubber down below.

“That’s good tire mileage, and it’s not unusual for wide-singles to run out like that if you look after them,” he says. “I align the truck regularly with the MD Alignment tools and vigorously maintain 100-psi inflation pressure with the help of a tire pressure monitoring system.”

Inflation is critical

Wide-base single tires appear to be more sensitive to incorrect inflation pressure than dual tires. While fleets routinely “over-inflate” their dual tires to 100 psi, it has been suggested that over-inflating wide singles can distort the shape of the tire, especially when lightly loaded, causing the center of the tread face to make contact with the road rather than even contact across the tread face. This, Beckett explains, changes the circumference of the tire and results in the scrubbing off the shoulder areas, which increases shoulder wear.

Excess speed can cause the same problem on some brands, Beckett says. “The centrifugal forces acting on the center of the tread face cause it to grow taller than the shoulders. The shoulders are attached to the sidewalls, so they can’t maintain the same circumference as the center, and you get scrubbing of the shoulders as a result.”

Over-inflating also renders the tire more susceptible to damage.

“Over-inflated tires increase the likelihood of crown cuts, impact breaks, punctures, and shock damage resulting from the decrease of sidewall flexing and an increase in firmness of the tread surface,” Remec says. “Maintain all tires at the target inflation pressure based on the manufacturers’ application data book for the particular axle load.”

Michelin’s recommendation for its current X One Energy Line D 445/50R22.5, for example, is 100 psi for a fully loaded drive or trailer axle at 17,000 pounds. Bridgestone’s load and inflation tables also recommend 100 psi for its 445/50R22.5 wide-base tires. Other manufacturers have their own recommendations.

As for the issue of blowouts leaving trucks stranded and unable to “limp-in” for a repair, Albert stresses that he has never heard of properly inflated tires blowing out unless they hit something on the road.

“Underinflated tires run hot, the rubber compounds break down or the sidewalls flex excessively, and the tire explodes,” he says. “It happens all the time, but its not the tire’s fault that it’s under-inflated. My tire pressure monitoring system is the best investment I have ever made in my tires.”

Besides, limping in, even with dual tires, is a DOT violation.

All that said, fleets that don’t have strict tire management programs in place might do better staying with dual tires. Fleets that take tire maintenance seriously and spec their equipment properly will see the weight and fuel savings gains. Nothing in life comes for free.