How to Find a Reliable Semi Truck Mechanic and Repair Shop
Fleet operators and truck drivers have a clear perception that semi-trucks are not forever. The average life expectancy of a semi-truck is around 10 to 15 years. Yet, they are highly variable on proper maintenance and usage. Many semi-trucks run a million miles during their lifespan. But with the high mileage of hauling, most semi-trucks exceed 120,000 miles per year. At that rate, they can only last for around 8 years.
Semi-trucks typically haul loads as heavy as 80,000 pounds. When they are used for vocational work, they do a lot of heavy hauling all year round. This makes semi-trucks susceptible to breakdowns and repair needs. So, it is smart for a fleet operator or truck driver to find a reliable mechanic or repair shop. Here’s how!
5 Most Common Truck Repairs
First, let’s discuss the 5 most common truck repairs.
Brake Failures and Fluid Leaks
The braking system of a semi-truck regularly fails because of the pressure brought about by large payloads. So, truck drivers and operators need to keep the break in good shape. In general, a semi-truck’s brake pads need to be replaced every 50,000 miles. Brake fluids also play an important role in a semi-truck’s braking system. Flushing them out every 3 months can lengthen the lifespan of the other components in the braking system. From time to time, truckers should conduct a manual check on the fluid’s color and level.
Degraded Wheel Bearings
The wheel bearings are the components that hold the wheels of a semi-truck. It allows the wheels to spin properly for a smoother hauling and ride. Semi-truck drivers commonly experienced degraded wheel bearings. This is because of the constant movement of the wheel bearings as a semi-truck travels long trips. The most typical signs of a degraded wheel bearing are noises on the wheel, jerking, or unstable wheel movement. Most semi-truck mechanics and repair shops recommend replacing wheel bearings after 150,000 miles.
Due to long-distance travel, semi-trucks are highly prone to overheating. The engine of a truck produces a lot of heat. But the excessive heat under it may cause engine damage. Engine overheating may result from a blocked thermostat, blown gasket, defective cooling fan, or fuel leak. Whatever the reason is, a truck driver should immediately call a semi-truck mechanic to resolve the issue.
Failure to Start
Most semi-truck drivers encounter the failure of a truck to start, especially when the temperature drops during winter. This may either be because of the semi-truck’s battery or starter. There is no expected timeline for a semi-truck battery to break and be replaced. But smart truckers will know that car idling, changing headlight brightness, and hard starting are signs of the need for a battery replacement. On the other hand, the average lifespan of a semi-truck starter is a truck mileage of 150,000.
Universal joints or U-joints are mechanical devices that link the shafts of a semi-truck together. There is no recommended timeline for replacing U-joints but they should be lubricated every 5,000 miles. This is to keep them moving as the shafts move. A U-joint malfunction is manifested by clicking noises and vibrations under a semi-truck.
How to Find a Semi Truck Mechanic
To find a reliable semi truck mechanic and repair shop, fleet owners and truck drivers must first know the difference between semi-truck maintenance and repair. Maintenance is a routine check-up and replacements suggested on a vehicle’s manual. While repairs are processes of fixing a semi-truck problem.
Scheduled maintenance is typically performed on truck dealerships or service shops. There are times that the maintenance is covered by the truck’s warranty. Since maintenance items are a basic routine, they can be performed by any truck mechanic or repair shop. Repairs can be categorized as minor and major issues on the truck. They may also be covered by the warranty of a vehicle dealership.
There are cases when the semi-truck can be recalled if a major repair issue happens within the warranty period. Once the semi-truck is out of warranty, that is the time that you may need to find a skilled mechanic or local repair shop.
Ask Your Colleagues, Family, Friends, and Neighbors
The best way to search for a reliable mechanic or repair shop in town is to ask for personal referrals. A colleague, family member, friend, or neighbor may have been a semi-truck owner too or knows someone with a semi-truck. They may have experienced having a truck repair with a nearby auto shop. As such, they may be happy to share their stories with you to help you find a reliable mechanic or repair shop.
Check for Certifications
Checking for mechanics or repair shops that are AAR or ASE certified is a technical way to qualify them as reliable and trustworthy. There are more than 7,000 repair shops across North America that are accredited by the American Automobile Association (AAA). These accredited shops meet the professional standards of AAA for customer service and expertise. A semi-truck mechanic should also be certified by the National Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). An ASE certification means going through a 2-year mechanic course plus a 2-year automotive repair on-the-job training OJT. Semi-truck mechanics with ASE certifications undergo a retesting every 5 years
Find a Mechanic or Repair Shop Specializing in Your Truck’s Brand
Some mechanics and repair shops specialize in certain truck brands. They likely have the proper knowledge, skills, and training to fix your semi-truck. You can ask your insurer or truck dealer for recommendations. Alternatively, you can search online on the truck manufacturer’s website to ask for a nearby mechanic or repair shop. For instance, if you are having troubles with your Peterbilt semi truck, you can find a dealer who can provide parts or full service through the Peterbilt website.
Search the Internet
The internet is also a perfect place to source out reliable mechanics and repair shops. For instance, you can find valuable information about local mechanics on Cartalk.com’s mechanic files. To find a perfect match, you can also check with the Better Business Bureau for honest feedback about mechanics and repair shops.