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New Era For Truck Maintenance

A Solid Discussion Up-Front Will Increase Their Confidence And Reduce Mistakes.

By Rick Zettler

Today’s articulated and rigid haul trucks are designed to operate more efficiently and offer a longer service life than those of even a generation ago. Due to changing governmental emissions regulations, they also run cleaner.

Manufacturers are constantly upgrading and fine-tuning their truck designs. Even if there are no significant changes in a truck design – like a jump from Tier 3 to Tier 4i engines – there can be subtle changes made to a model. “We take what we learn from customers in the field and what we hear over the phone and incorporate this into our designs and in our service training programs,” said Stu Thompson, product service manager for Terex Construction.

This means that technicians charged with maintaining these trucks, so they operate in the most efficient manner possible, must stay abreast of changing designs and the required maintenance intervals. In order to get the most out of your Terex trucks and ease the need for frequent fuel fill-ups, here are some maintenance tips to consider for your service program.

Be a Bookworm
One of the most overlooked resources is the reference material that comes with every truck. “Technicians can really boost their knowledge by reading the operating and service manuals that come with the truck,” said Ken Emmett, truck product manager for Terex Construction. “More than 90 percent of the questions we receive are covered in the books.”

This is a suggestion not left for those just entering the service field. It’s meant for even the most seasoned technician as well. “Every truck manufacturer’s maintenance requirements are different,” says Thompson, “and even different truck models within a family will have different maintenance requirements.”

This is why it is so important to study those manuals when first received and not rely on field experience. Failure to follow recommended service intervals outlined in the manuals can reduce the service life of a major component and void the truck’s warranty.

Tier Up
Tier 4i regulations aim to reduce exhaust emissions. The good news with the changes is that fuel economy also increases for Terex trucks, which rely on Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology. “We have heard of fuel increases ranging from 5 to 15 percent with Tier 4i engines,” said Thompson.

Along with this positive, however, are engines that have more system components for technicians to learn how to maintain. This makes reading the manual even more critical. The new engine designs also add the truck operator as the first line of defense against engine issues, since they will be the first to notice changes in truck performance.

Thompson outlined a series of “Don’ts” for both the operator and service technician when it comes to Tier 4i engine technologies.

  • Don’t run out of Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) (for trucks using SCR engine technology).
  • Don’t try to substitute DEF with water or fuel (for trucks using SCR engine technology).
  • Don’t consistently bypass the regeneration process (for trucks using Exhaust Gas Recirculation [EGR] engine technology).

Trying to “trick” the emissions system will only lead to major engine issues. “You can’t get around it,” advised Thompson. “By improperly operating and maintaining the engines, you can burn out the dosage module for DEF and greatly shorten the life of either the diesel particulate filter or convertor, which are all costly fixes.” Not paying attention to the emissions alerts will only lead to the engine derating to the idle position, so the truck cannot operate properly.

Oil and Ash
Especially when it comes to today’s trucks, all oils are not created equally. “Refer to the manual to find the recommended oil for your truck,” said Thompson.

Tier 4i engines require low ash oil. For trucks with EGR systems, ash from the oil can plug the diesel particulate filter. Therefore, if the right oil is not used, this will lead to increased truck downtime to complete more frequent regeneration cycles, which reduces truck productivity and increases fuel consumption.

In contrast, a properly maintained engine filled with the recommended low-ash oil can go longer between oil changes. “Oil sampling analysis will help determine the proper change intervals for the application,” said Thompson.

Size Matters
Properly sizing trucks to the job may not seem to be a maintenance issue at the surface. However, attempting to haul more material than a truck is designed to in an effort to meet productivity goals will definitely cause maintenance issues. “Overloading a truck will shorten the service life of major big-ticket components such as the drivetrain, engine, axles and differentials,” said Thompson.

In fact, overloading a truck that is too small for the job may just have the opposite effect on productivity. “Productivity is a measurement of capacity and time,” added Emmett. “An overloaded truck may move slow enough to actually reduce overall productivity.”

There are many factors that go into properly sizing a truck – capacity, productivity, transport, purchase price, and owning, operating and maintenance costs – in order to increase profitability for a company. Thompson recommends reaching out to the experts, such as Terex, and its distributors to help with proper truck selection for a job.

Is It Covered?
New Terex articulated and rigid haul trucks are covered with a comprehensive warranty. However, service technicians have a responsibility to make sure that the truck is properly maintained, so that a warranty claim is covered.

Thompson mentions that the manual outlines all required maintenance items and intervals to keep the truck under warranty. He cites a rare occasion where an engine was severely neglected and a warranty claim had to be denied. The company experienced an engine failure and submitted a warranty claim. Upon inspection, the oil in the pan was so thick that it held a ruler in an upright standing position. “Unfortunately because it was obvious that the oil was not changed according to the required schedule, the engine manufacturer had no choice but to void the warranty,” he says.

Keep on Rollin’It’s been said many times but still bears repeating. A tire kept properly inflated will increase fuel economy. If the air pressure is low, this creates increased drag on the roll, which reduces fuel economy.

Looking beyond the tires, site maintenance for the roads on which the tires travel also helps to extend the intervals between refueling. According to Thompson, in a perfect world, grades would be no more than 10 percent. “As the grade increases, fuel economy suffers, but grades often depend on site conditions,” he said.

One controllable factor with regards to haul roads, however, is their condition. Fill potholes, keep them as level as possible and remove any obstacle that causes excessive stopping and starting. Steady speed results in lower fuel consumption.

Lube Job
A critical, but often overlooked item is properly greasing joints and fittings. There are daily grease points for all trucks and areas that require lubrication at certain timed intervals. “Grease is cheaper than bearings,” said Emmett.

Trucks not properly lubricated create wear points. “Once wear occurs,” said Thompson, “you cannot stop it. It just keeps getting worse until the part needs to be replaced.”

This is why Terex recommends the use of automatic lube systems for their trucks. These systems are timed to automatically lubricate all required points at the correct intervals, helping to reduce maintenance and improve uptime. The technician needs only to pack the lube tube with grease.

Your Local Connection
Your Terex distributor is a vital link to maintain the health of your Terex truck. Often, distributors will offer maintenance and service packages to keep the truck running in peak condition. All Terex distributors stock the required parts, like filters, to keep your truck properly maintained.

In the case of Terex Generation 9 articulated haul trucks featuring the latest Tier 4i engine technology, customers have another reason to rely on their local distributor. “Nearly all of our truck distributors are also authorized Scania engine dealers,” said Thompson. Therefore, they are trained experts in maintaining the new engines and to help you get the most from your truck.

Rick Zettler is president of Z-COMM, a Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based marketing company.