Check tire pressure and tread depth to help avoid on-road breakdowns.

When talk turns to maintenance, it’s usually the tractor that gets all the attention. While today’s trailers are designed to last longer, they still need some TLC.

The following trailer maintenance tips can help ensure your trailers are always in top operating condition.

1. Check the air

It’s important to make sure tires operate at the proper inflation level. If you use tire pressure monitoring/inflation systems make sure to inspect them for leaks.
It’s important to make sure tires operate at the proper inflation level. If you use tire pressure monitoring/inflation systems make sure to inspect them for leaks.

Tires are a major expense, so they deserve your attention. “Proper tire air pressure is key to tire longevity,” says Mike Goor, president of Contract Leasing Corp., a trailer leasing, sales and service company. Since drivers are often too busy to check tires as they should, he recommends tire pressure monitoring or inflation systems.

However, these systems need their own attention, notes John Morgan, senior product manager at Meritor. “Check the supply hose connection to the tire on a regular basis and occasionally look for leaks.”

Chris Steph, Stemco Intelligent Transportation Systems business leader, suggests these three simple checks:

• Verify that the system pressure is set correctly

• Check the auxiliary battery switch (ABS)/auxiliary power fuse

• Check the system shut-off valve position.

More specifically, check regulator pressure at least once a quarter and check the power fuse monthly, since the driver warning lamp will not illuminate without power. The system shut-off valve needs to be checked every time there is a visual inspection of the trailer.

If your tires are properly inflated but you’re still seeing tire wear, the problem is probably not with the tires, says Russ Franks, field service manager for Meritor. “Unusual tire wear is an indication you have something wrong with the undercarriage, suspension, shock absorbers or axle alignment.”

2. Inspect suspensions

Visually inspect suspensions looking for signs of irregular wear, tears or heat cracks on the air springs, advises Dave Vanette, new business development manager at Firestone Industrial Products. Make sure nothing is touching the suspension or interfering with its movement. Also make sure air springs have sufficient and equal pressure.

Every air suspension has a defined ride height position, “but sometimes it gets damaged or tinkered with,” Franks says. If the ride height is not correct, you will not reap the full benefits of an air-ride suspension. Make sure the ride height is not too high because it can interfere with safely navigating overpasses. If there is too little air, instead of riding on the air bag, the trailer will ride on the suspension’s bumpers, which damages other suspension components.

3. Lube it correctly

Sometimes it’s necessary to crawl under the trailer to inspect undercarriage components.
Sometimes it’s necessary to crawl under the trailer to inspect undercarriage components.

The correct lube in the right amount is essential to proper trailer operation. Grease has three characteristics, according to Donna Mosher, lubricant specialist for Eaton Vehicle Group. The thickening system, grade and performance rating are all important in selecting the right grease.

“Ninety percent of greases are lithium complex based, but some are calcium based.” But don’t mix the two greases, as performance will drop. The grade of the grease speaks to its viscosity and most grease used on trailers is NLGI, which, according to Mosher, “has the consistency of peanut butter.”

The performance characteristics of the grease can be harder to find, as not all grease manufacturers put it on the label. Consult with the grease manufacturer to ensure you’re getting a grease with the proper performance characteristics.

Make sure you add enough new grease to purge the old grease. “It’s not that the old grease wears out, but the debris that cling to the grease make it ineffective. Adding new greases purges the dirt,” she says.

4. Take time for brakes

John Thompson, sales manager at TMD Friction, suggests using the following procedure to check trailer brakes.

“On wheel ends with spring brakes applied, look at the angle formed by the air chamber push rod and slack adjuster. That angle should be 90 degrees. If it isn’t, the brake is out of adjustment and needs to be fixed.”

Morgan suggests checking drum conditions while performing brake or wheel end service. “Measure the drums to make sure there is enough material to last until the next maintenance inspection. If it’s borderline, replace it.”

5. Keep it lit up

An inoperable trailer light is like waving a red flag and asking to be pulled over for a roadside inspection, according to Brett Johnson, president and CEO of Optronics International. Corrosion is the enemy of the electrical system, and the liquid road salt used to de-ice roads attacks electrical connections.

“When the right steps are not taken to prevent corrosion, it can spread throughout a vehicle, significantly shortening its life and that of the electrical system,” Johnson adds. Regularly inspect lamps, wires and harness systems and replace grease when needed at connection points.

6. Keep it clean

The lighting and electrical systems are susceptible to corrosion. Be sure to inspect connections and replace lamps as needed.
The lighting and electrical systems are susceptible to corrosion. Be sure to inspect connections and replace lamps as needed.

De-icing chemicals don’t just attack electrical connections. They also attack metal parts.
“Routinely wash equipment after exposure [to these chemicals],” says Greg Smith, vice president of sales and marketing for Talbert Trailers. “Most importantly, wash the underside where chemicals can remain undetected.”

A clean trailer also allows you to more easily spot trailer problems, according to Jeff Hopper, director of sales for trailer manufacturer Direct Trailer. He recommends trailers be washed every 45 days and brought into the shop every 45 to 60 for a more thorough inspection.

While Hopper says pre- and post-trip inspections are the starting point for a good maintenance effort, “you have to do more than check the boxes on the list. The driver has to actually do a thorough and complete check.”

Smith also recommends checking for debris that may be caught in trailer components, being especially mindful of the hydraulic system. If the hydraulic system gets compromised it could begin leaking hydraulic fluid, which is considered toxic.

7. Don’t forget the inside

While drivers may do a great job looking at things outside the trailer, they may forget to take a peek inside. Bob Tyman, general manager of River States Truck & Trailer, a Wisconsin-based Freightliner dealer, stresses the importance of looking for things like holes in the roof and broken aluminum cross members. “Holes in the roof can cause leaks which could damage cargo” as well as letting potentially damaging moisture into the trailer.

8. Check security

Your trailer maintenance must include a close inspection of tiedown straps, chains, ratchets and winches. Look for holes, tears, cuts, snags, loose stitching or embedded particles in the straps and at securing hardware, including loose logistics tracks on the inside of the trailer or rusted winches and hooks on the outside.

Washing tiedowns is not recommended, according to Ralph Abato, president of Doleco USA, a manufacturer of cargo securement products. “Washing has an adverse affect on the nylon tiedown straps and actually will cause the grit to grind into the fiber, reducing strap integrity and work load limits,” he says. “Dirty is better than washing.”

Abato also says winches need to be regularly lubricated, and ratchets lightly oiled to keep them in good working order.

9. Prioritize prevention

When it comes to trailers, Morgan, says, prevention is important. “Look for little symptoms that if fixed prevent big damage.”

Or as Hopper put it, “If it moves, slides or goes up and down, it needs to be inspected on a regular basis.”

The American Truck Dealers named the Kenworth T880 Vocational Truck as the 2015 Truck of the Year at the ATD convention and Expo in San Francisco. Other finalists included the WorkStar 7600 and the Peterbilt Model 567.

The specific Kenworth T880 chosen for the award was equipped with a PACCAR MX-13 engine.

Judges selected the T880 for its exceptional handling, power torque and outstanding visibility from all quarters of the driver’s seat. A panel of journalists selected the winners from categories including innovation, design, safety and driver satisfaction.

Last year’s winner in the heavy-duty category was the International ProStar with Cummins ISX15.

Visit Wallwork’s vast inventory of new and used Kenworth trucks by visiting our website at http://www.wallworktrucks.com

T880

NationaLease released its Emergency Road Service Mobile App which gives drivers access to the service through smartphones and tablets. The app was created in a matter of weeks using the Snappii Mobility Platform which requires no code produce apps, the company says.

The app accesses NationaLease’s 600 locations throughout the U.S. and Canada to provide drivers with emergency road service, fuel and substitute vehicles. Additional roadside assistance is provided by National Road Rescue over the phone.

Snappii created its platform to enable businesses to make their own apps without needing to write code or use advanced programing languages like Objective-C or Java. This removes the need for a longer development process and lets businesses more quickly produce apps for services.

NationaLease has a customer fleet of more than 125,000 vehicles and trailers.

“Emergency Road Service is very important to our customers,” said Jane Clark, vice president of member services at NationaLease. “By using Snappii’s mobility platform, we are now able to give drivers instant access through their smartphones and tablets.”

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Kenworth is offering Dana Spicer EconoTrek 6×2 tandem axles as an option on its Class 8, on-highway trucks.

The Spicer EconoTrek lightweight drive and tag axle configuration has enhanced fuel economy, weight savings, improved performance, reduced need for maintenance and is up to 3% more fuel efficient compared to traditional 6×4 tandem axles, accordign to Dana.

The EconoTrek is more than 300 pounds lighter than Kenworth’s standard 40,000 pound drive axle configuration. The drive and tag axles can accommodate both dual and wide-base tires and gear ratios ranging from 2.53 – 7.82.

The 6×2 configuration is becoming more popular with fleet truck operators in their efforts to achieve fuel economy gains while also saving weight and increasing payload, said Kenworth. It features a robust housing design and is optimized for use with electronically controlled load distribution air suspension systems and must be specified with the Kenworth AG380 or AG400L suspensions.

Operators must also have a driver-controlled differential lock and the Bendix eTrac traction enhancement option which transfers weight to the drive axle for better low-speed traction.

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In an exciting move, Wallwork Truck Center will increase their hours of operation beginning May 5th, from 8am to 9pm, Monday through Friday.

Service Manager, Chris Thom, states: “This is an exciting move for both parts & service and it will be fun to see this take off and fill a need.  A lot of planning and coordinating has taken place and we are happy to provide the region with the hours needed to keep the trucks moving and our customers happy.”

Wallwork Truck Center is an authorized dealer for Kenworth and has full parts, sales and service centers for new and used commercial truck and trailer needs.

To learn more, please visit http://www.wallworktrucks.com

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Aside  —  Posted: April 25, 2014 in Kenworth
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Paul Baker, parts manager, Wallwork Truck Center, has been elected to serve on the Kenworth Dealer Parts Council. The council consists of parts managers from Kenworth® dealerships across the United States and Canada. Council members focus on continuous improvements in customer satisfaction, product quality, product reliability, client services, associate training, competitive products and warranty issues.

Baker has served on nine dealer parts councils in his 16 years as parts manager for Wallwork Truck Center, allowing Wallwork Truck Center’s parts departments to keep their finger on the pulse of the truck and trailer parts industries.

Paul is a graduate of Moorhead High School and he and his family reside in Moorhead, MN.

Wallwork Truck Center represents Kenworth® and Ford heavy and medium duty trucks and the following trailer lines: Great Dane, XL Specialized, Cornhusker, Dragon, East, R-WAY, Circle R and Ranco.

To learn more about Wallwork Truck Center, please visit wallworktrucks.com

 

 

Wallwork Truck Center and its affiliated trailer repair centers, Northwest Truck & Trailer and Fargo Trailer Center, have been awarded the distinguished  5 Star Dealership Rating from Aurora Parts & Service Network for 2013. This is Aurora’s top honor and is based on a 25 point system including customer satisfaction, year-over-year growth, total parts volume and overall program support.

Mike Conley, vice president of sales for Aurora, states “Wallwork and their trailer divisions are model dealerships for Aurora and I push other Aurora dealerships towards their sales and marketing strategies.  With that being said, Aurora’s Dealer Advisory Group will have their up-coming meeting in Fargo.”

“This award is a very big accomplishment for Wallwork and our trailer divisions.  I would like to give a big thank you to everyone in the entire dealership:  parts, service, sales and all of the supporting staff. “ – Tim Meece, parts manager, Northwest Truck & Trailer and Fargo Trailer Center