Faulty speed sensors, ground wires, empathy on customer service issues: Readers respond to one owner-op’s ELD issue

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Updated May 11, 2019
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Regular readers will recall my story about owner-operator Mark Kirbyson’s intractable issue with the electronic logging device he’s using, that of the BigRoad company. In essence, the particular problem experienced was a repeated tendency of the device to auto-switch him to the drive line while the truck, powered by a Caterpillar, idled, sometimes with the engine’s rpms varying to a degree. The problem was such that he’d requested and been granted extra time from FMCSA to address the issue. Several readers offered a variety of fixes that had helped them with similar problems in the past, under the original post. Others, shared here, wrote in directly:

Eric Laitinen was the first such reader to write in following the story, which first aired here on the blog on April 24: His older Peterbilt, he said, a couple months back did something positively miraculous (always a chance it was being controlled from afar by little green men, or had developed an autonomous mind of its own!) when it moved while Laitinen was asleep — or at least that’s what his odometer was telling him. “I woke up and went to do my pretrip and noticed that the odometer had a few extra miles than when I shut down the previous night,” he wrote. “After a little digging into the issue I noticed that when sitting and idling, the speedometer would bounce up to 70-80 mph just for a split second. It only seemed to do it when it was cold and snowy, wet.”

If on an ELD when this happened, the device might register that bounce in speed as driving and remain there without any intervention from the sleeping driver.

Laitinen, in his case, “ended up changing the speed sensor, a cheap $60 fix,” he said.

When I put this to Kirbyson, he noted he’d done the same, to no avail.

Reader Ben Blackburn, who ran with a PeopleNet system personally and had not experienced such a problem as Kirbyson described, commented under the story and recommended simply logging out of the device when off-duty as a workaround for the issue: “When parked and engine running, log out of the ELD device. It should not be able to put you to the drive line if you aren’t logged in.” Blackburn added an lol here, of course. A simple workaround, but it does not account for unassigned drive time that would still require reconciling unless the ECM-linked device was unplugged entirely.

Anthony DuPont noted he had had a very similar problem on his truck, which ended up being solved by updating the ground for the device on the truck side of the plug-in. “I had to have the ground for the unit re-grounded and split the grounding wire to two separate grounds,” he noted.

Last I heard from Kirbyson, he was planning to try this fix. I will update when I hear back.

Finally, Kirbyson’s frustrations with his ELD provider’s ability (or lack thereof) to effectively assist in correcting the problem no doubt struck a chord with many under the original post. Also, writing in was Kalah Tooley of Tony’s Diesel Service in Sioux Falls, S.D., who saw Kirbyson’s same issue “with a few of ours,” she noted. “We have Verizon’s Fleetmatics ELD. We did all the same checking he did as to wiring and the tablet, downloading updates, deleting and reinstalling the program. Finally figured out the only thing that works is to log out twice. The guys will park, go off duty, wait a few seconds, it kicks them back into on-duty, log out again and then usually it will stay. Fleetmatics doesn’t know what the problem is there either. Just wanted to let him know that his system isn’t the only one doing that!”

Find more discussion of this particular issue under the previous post — several other suggestions as to a fix were posted there as well.

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