Archive for the ‘Maintenance’ Category

August 18th, 2014

As Con-way Truckload’s Driver Advocate, I’m always looking for ways to keep drivers safer and healthier on the road. One of the best strategies for doing this is to simply listen. Our drivers are experienced professionals who understand the importance of working together to improve the job, so when they bring concerns, comments or ideas to me, I try to share the solutions and tips.

An issue that has been brought to my attention recently is tandem slide locking pins that won’t retract when the locking pin release arm is pulled. This is a safety issue that generally results from one of the pins binding on the slider rails. Drivers have reported injuries to their shoulders — especially damage to the rotator cuff —from trying to muscle the pins into position.


Some success has been reported from the practice of putting the truck in forward or reverse and sliding the trailer box slightly forward or backward in order to get the pins to retract. There is also the temptation to simply whack the pins with a hammer (strongly discouraged). The easiest and most effective solution is to use a lubricant on the pins and slider rails.

Lithium grease, also referred to as white lithium, is an inexpensive, easy-to-use and effective answer. It adheres well to metal, is non-corrosive, may be used under extremely heavy loads, has outstanding temperature tolerance and is resistant to moisture. It can be purchased in spray can form at any Wal-mart or automotive parts store for between $3.00 and $5.00. It stores easily, will not gum up or collect dirt and is very easy to apply. A quick shot to all four pins and a couple of pulls to work it in is all it takes.

Regular applications of white lithium will make the chore of adjusting trailer tandems easier, less work, less frustrating and reduce the risk of injury.

Stay tuned for more tips and if you have a comment or issue that you’d like me to look into, please give me a call.

-Tim Hicks

March 26th, 2014

Fuel is one of the highest costs for carriers. While there are technologies and equipment that can help improve MPGs, including trailers with aerodynamic devices, low rolling resistance tires and other MPG improvement options, every driver has some control over his or her driving efficiency.

Check out our tips below on how to increase your fuel efficiency while out on the road.

  • Reduce idling. Excessive idling is a large contributor to increased fuel expense and can also contribute to a variety of maintenance problems.
  • Use Progressive Shifting. This driving technique uses little additional rpm between each upshift before grabbing the next gear. Any amount of rpm reduction before upshifting will help save fuel.
  • Stay in the highest gear as long as possible. Modern engines already make 90% of their max torque starting around 1000 rpm. That means you can climb hills in higher gears than you could have in older trucks.
  • Steady RPMs- Do your best to keep the rpms below 1500 while accelerating and keep rpms as steady as possible throughout the trip.
  • Reduce highway speed. When possible, dropping top speed by even three mph can have a significant impact on fuel economy.

Have some other tips? Share them with us!

February 18th, 2014

Commercial trucks are safer and more technologically advanced than ever, but no amount of planning and preparation can completely eliminate breakdowns. It is essential for all drivers to have a firm grasp on the proper procedures to follow if the unexpected happens. Here are some helpful tips to ensure your safety and the safety of those around you in the event of a breakdown on the highway.

First and foremost, protect yourself and secure the scene. Get as far off the highway as possible, as soon as possible, and immediately set out reflective triangles. It’s a good idea to also keep a reflective vest in your truck to keep yourself visible to other drivers when you’re outside your truck. Once you and your truck are secure, contact the road service department for a tow or a mobile repair service.

Top reasons for breakdowns and how to prevent them

There are three major causes of breakdowns; blowouts, problems with the after treatment system and, in cold weather, fuel gelling. If the yellow warning light comes on while you’re driving, it means something is going to go wrong soon and you should bring your truck in for servicing as soon as possible. If the red warning light comes on, get the truck off the road immediately and follow the procedure described above.

There are some preventative measures that can be taken to minimize your chance of breakdown. Do a thorough, pre-trip inspection of your vehicle before taking off. Every time you stop, repeat this walk-around inspection before continuing on the road. Look for the obvious things, such as fuel, oil and antifreeze leaks. Check tire pressure each time and avoid over-idling. If you are going to be traveling in cold weather, be sure to use the proper additives to prevent fuel gelling.

Finally, there are a few important items to have with you while driving. In addition to the reflective vest, flashlight with extra batteries and a cell phone with charger. Depending on your destination and the time of year you’re travelling, it may be wise to keep extra water, food and a means of warmth such as a thermal blanket. As campers and hikers often note, “It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.”

If you have any advice on what to do if your truck breaks down, we’d love to hear from you. Until next time, drive safe!