Win the warranty game

John Baxter | November 02, 2010

Likewise, an ABS light in the cab should be addressed with diagnostics, says ArvinMeritor’s Charlie Allen. “Don’t ignore it,” he says.

Other warranty savers

There are other best practices that will prolong a truck’s lifespan and have a positive effect on getting a warranty claim approved. Failing to match transmission, driveshaft, and axle torque ratings will void a warranty, and this can happen as a result of upgrading an engine’s power and torque via reprogramming the ECM. Other errors like spec’ing a truck for the highway and then using it in on-off road service could also void a warranty, especially in the case of all but the newest automated transmissions.

SPEC FOR THE APPLICATION. “Vocations command specific vehicle and component specifications,” says ArvinMeritor’s Charlie Allen. “And note that the warranty may vary by vocation.”

Kenworth Public Relations Manager Jeff Parietti says to approach buying a truck with information about how you will use it, rather than specific component choices. When ordering new, he says, seek the dealer’s advice for your application. “Above all, don’t insist on a combination of specs the factory won’t approve,” he says. “Forcing them to build a truck that is not approved or better yet recommended will often lead to trouble and is likely to immediately raise warranty issues.”

If you’re buying used and getting an extended warranty, Allen notes, “check the level of components for the exact application you are applying them to. Be certain the clutch, driveline and transmission can handle any increase in torque levels. Avoid overloading the components to maximize life and performance.”

INSPECT SUSPENSION SYSTEMS. “Use a torque wrench to check for proper torque on U-bolts, frame bolts and suspension mounting hardware,” says Peterbilt’s Rick Wood. “Proper torque values are listed in the vehicle operator’s manual under the maintenance section for frame fasteners. Failure to check and maintain proper torque values can lead to component failure.” Obviously, a failure resulting from something that loosened up and was never retorqued is not covered by warranty.

International’s Brian Mulshine says it’s critical to perform the routine maintenance required on the DPF’s fuel dosing nozzle, especially on vehicles that spend time off the highway. Failure to do so may mean un-atomized fuel, ineffective active regeneration, and clogging. Also, where engines use in-cylinder dosing, change the oil religiously and watch for signs of fuel dilution. Changing in a timely manner is critical in these cases.

He also recommends doing overheads as recommended in the maintenance schedule, even on engines with common-rail injection, where that affects only the valves.

GREASE WITH CARE. When greasing U-joints, says MHC Kenworth’s Michael Donnelley, grease until you get fresh grease at all four bearings. “Don’t quit as soon as you hear the pop of the first fresh grease flowing past the seal,” he says.

Allen lists the need to grease slack adjusters until new grease purges from around the inboard camshaft splines and from the pawl assembly.

STUDY THE OWNER’S MANUAL. Donnelley says you can skim through the owner’s manual of a new car and it won’t matter that much. But on a late model truck, “Be proactive and try to educate yourself,” he says. “With older, mechanical engines, there was some leeway when something got out of adjustment. This is not true of the latest equipment.” He recommends studying the owner’s manual to become familiar with maintenance requirements and signs of trouble.

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