Roadside Attractions

| May 01, 2011

HOW-TO Catch A/C Problems

Cab air conditioner refrigerant is under more than 30 psi even when the system is idle. When it leaks, so does the oil. The fluids remaining in the system absorb water from the humidity in the air, producing corrosive acid. Here are some routine maintenance tips:

1.  To keep compressor shaft seals lubricated even in winter, make sure you turn the A/C system on for a few minutes at least once a month.

The sight glass is located on top of a small black cylinder called the receiver-dryer, which is in the thin piping leading from the bottom of the condenser to the evaporator.

2.  Inspect hoses, connections and other components every month. Any leak produces an oil film, which attracts dirt. It also pays to have the system inspected by a licensed refrigeration mechanic at least once a year.

3.  Check the appearance of the dot on the sight glass. When the system is dry, the dot is blue or aqua and it changes to pink or white when the dryer becomes saturated.

4.  Inspect compressor mounts and belt-tensioning systems. Belts should have no cracks or glazing. Carefully check condenser mounting bolts and brackets. Vibration is one of the system’s enemies.

5.  The clutch engage should grab in a second or two, with only momentary slippage. Slow or partial clutch engagement may indicate an electrical or mechanical problem that could cause component failures, often non-warrantable.

6.  Recharge yearly, having the system evacuated and the oil inspected for color.

— John Baxter

Vanished into ultrathin air

News outlets in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, said 700,000 Sagami Rubber Industries-produced ultrathin condoms were stolen from a cargo container en route to market from the Japanese manufacturer’s Malaysia plant. As reported by Antara News, officials with Sagami say “the prophylactics, which it bills as being 14 percent thinner than conventional ones, are worth $1.5 million at Japanese retail prices.”


The average owner-operator, idling about five hours a day for a year, adds the equivalent of 18,000 miles of wear and tear on the engine, says Argonne National Laboratory. Cutting idling to zero eliminates that wear, extends your oil-drain interval and saves nearly $6,000 in fuel with diesel at $4. If you’re not ready to invest in a cab heater or auxiliary power unit, consider getting a remote starter (about $80) with a temperature sensor that starts the truck at a specified temperature.

This tip comes from the Partners in Business program, which is produced by Overdrive and the owner-operator consultants at ATBS, and is sponsored by Freightliner Trucks. The next live PIB seminar will be 2-4 p.m. Friday, June 10, during the Great West Truck Show in Las Vegas.

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