Severe Service

Max Kvidera | December 01, 2011

The problem, which has grown with the switch to ultra-low sulfur fuel, often leads to a “pretty big expense, and it can cause headaches, because it can be hard to clean out,” he says.

You can detect the presence of a biological growth when you change fuel filters and see a black deposit. You can also shine a flashlight in the fuel tank and see the growth, McClusky says.

If you detect a growth, a biocide product will kill it, leaving the dead material floating in the tank. Some biocides help the removal process by breaking up the material.

How to prevent

When your truck’s in for service, have water drained from the fuel tanks. You can do it yourself by unscrewing the drain plug at the bottom of the tank. Water, which is heavier than fuel, drains first. Replace the plug it when the drainage turns from clear to amber-colored.

Brake failure

Heavy brake use around jobsites can wear out your brakes. To prevent any failures, during preventive maintenance, crawl under the truck and inspect the linings. “Any uneven wear on the brake shoe lining indicates you have a brake drum issue that should be checked,” says Dolce.

Under normal brake operation, trailer brakes apply a fraction of a second before the tractor drive brakes, which are then followed by the steer brakes. If that brake sequence is out of adjustment, drive brakes or steer brakes will wear faster than normal, Dolce says.

How to prevent

• During inspections, check your brake system for leaks. Fix leaks before hitting the road.

• Make sure low-air alarms and the compressor work properly.

• Use brake backing plates on the axles to minimize the amount of abrasive material that can get to the lining and drums and accelerate wear. The plates make it more difficult to inspect the lining, drums and seals, but the long-term benefits are significant, Hess says.

Fuel filter replacement

Replacing a fuel filter before it gets clogged can head off a power loss that could force a shutdown.

If your truck starts to run poorly, loses power and eventually shuts down, the fuel filter may be too restricted. Injector problems also might be traced to a clogged fuel filter, says Jeff Sass, Paccar Parts general marketing manager.

Dolce points out that fuel filters don’t have a bypass built into the fuel system like oil filters in the oil lubrication system.

“Plugged fuel filters will restrict the fuel flow, plus allow water or particles into the fuel system, causing premature deterioration and failure,” Dolce says.

A road call to replace a fuel filter could cost $200, and up to $2,000 if a tow and injector replacement are required, Sass says.

How to prevent

• Include checking fuel filter as part of your regular trip inspections.

• Carry a spare with you to make a change. If you replace the filter, prime the system to restart the truck. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.