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What to Consider When Rebuilding Your Diesel Engine

FAQ: Restoring vs Buying New

Every day, all across the country, heavy-duty trucks travel thousands of miles delivering products and keeping our economy flowing. Those miles can be taxing on diesel engines, and without proper care and maintenance, you could find yourself in need of a new one. However, there is another option.

Instead of buying a new engine, you may be able to salvage the one you have by rebuilding it. While the quality of your rebuild depends on the parts and mechanic skills you have, it’s a much cheaper option than purchasing a whole new engine—especially as costs continue to rise.

Is restoring an old engine better than buying a new one?

While it may seem more cost-effective to replace your worn engine with a brand-new one, the fact is rebuilding your engine could save you hundreds of dollars and help you avoid mechanical hurdles.

Overall, it is less expensive to obtain a small repair loan and complete an engine overhaul than it is to finance a new truck. When you buy a new semi, you will be met with a minimum five-year payment plan, eventual repair costs, and more. Repairing/rebuilding your engine will buy you more time with your tried and true truck and save you money in the long run. 

Repairs can be even cheaper (and in some ways easier) if your rig is older. Newer trucks often have computerized systems and components that are expensive and hard to obtain due to the current microchip shortage. However, the parts and labor needed for older semis are relatively easy to get and manage.

To top it all off, older diesel engines are more reliable in some ways. When it comes to your used engine, you know what to expect and prepare for in terms of issues, efficiency, and performance. Plus, engines that have been around for a long time have proven to be longer-lasting, whereas newer engines don’t come with a proven track record.

What you need to know about rebuilding your engine

As previously mentioned, performing proper care and maintenance on your diesel engine ensures optimum performance and longevity. Eventually, you will need to rebuild your engine to improve your truck’s mileage and extend its lifespan. 

When it comes time to rebuild your engine, there are a few things you ought to know. Here are some frequently asked questions and answers to help.

Q: How do I know if my diesel engine is bad?

The most common ways of detecting a bad diesel engine include:

  • Increased oil consumption
  • Strange sounds coming from your engine
  • Increased fuel consumption
  • Issues with engine braking
  • Loss of power/Truck won’t start

–> How to identify when a clutch is failing

Q: When should you rebuild a diesel engine?

Typically, engine rebuilds are performed every 12,000 to 15,000 hours. However, you could extend time in between rebuilds with proper care and maintenance.

Q: How do I know if my engine needs to be rebuilt?

You need to rebuild your engine if:

  • A knocking or buzzing sound is coming from the engine’s bearings.
  • Oil burns on gasoline/Your exhaust smoke has a white hue.

Q: How long will a rebuilt diesel engine last?

If done correctly, an engine rebuild should last more than 100,000 miles. This will depend on the type of engine, however.

Q: What mistakes should I avoid when rebuilding?

The main mistakes to avoid when rebuilding include:

  • Not taking proper measurements of bearing clearances, crankshaft, cylinders, ring end gaps, etc.
  • Not having a clean and organized workstation.
  • Not recording as you dismantle your engine.
  • Using old or worn fasteners or other supplies.
  • Rushing through the process of the rebuild.

Q: Are rebuilt diesel engines reliable?

Yes! It has been proven that engine rebuilds are more reliable, safe, and effective than replacement engines.

Q: How much does an engine rebuild cost?

Engine rebuilds can vary in cost. Everything from the engine’s make to the level of the rebuild can impact the amount you’ll spend. However, the average overhaul cost ranges from $20,000 to $40,000.

–> How to save on diesel emissions repair costs

How a commercial repair loan can help

When your truck engine breaks down or needs parts and repairs, your income and livelihood are put on hold until fixed. And if the repairs or parts required aren’t within your budget, you could be facing quite the predicament. Fortunately, Mission Financial Services can help by offering specialized commercial vehicle repair loans that assist in covering the cost of repairs and help get your rig back on the road

To obtain a commercial vehicle repair loan, you will need to complete and submit three online forms, including a credit application, vehicle spec sheet, and sales order.

Top-Selling Transportation Equipment in the U.S.

Over the past two years, a shortage of heavy-duty vehicles has left the shipping industry between a rock and a hard place. This shortage has also caused owners and operators to rely heavily on the trucks they already own or battle for the few that enter the used market. However, depending on your location, some trucks and trailers may not be as readily available as they are in other parts of the country.

In this article, we will break down the top-selling heavy-duty trucks and trailers, what they’re used for, and which regions they are the most popular in.

Most Popular Commercial Trucks and Trailers 

The most commonly sold trucks and trailers include:

  • Box Trucks – Dry Cargo-Delivery: Box trucks (also known as dry cargo-delivery vehicles) are made to transport most goods and products. They are also considered the most common freight vehicle used for shipping. 
  • Cab & Chassis Trucks: These heavy-duty trailers are used when your haul requires unique configurations for safe transportation.
  • Conventional Trucks with a Sleeper & Conventional Day Cab Trucks: Conventional trucks are used for local and regional use, but they also work well for cross-country hauling.
  • Drop Deck Trailers: These trailers are like flatbeds, except they have a lower deck that helps haul taller loads.
  • Dry Van Trailers: Dry vans are typically used for shipments that do not require refrigeration or heating.
  • Dump Trucks: Also known as tippers, dumpers, or tip trucks, dump trucks carry loose materials like construction debris, dirt, or gravel.
  • Flatbed Trailers: Flatbeds are level trailers made from aluminum, wood, and steel and are typically used to haul oversized loads and heavy-duty equipment.
  • Hopper/Grain Trailers: These trailers are designed with sloped sides and multiple hoppers and transport grain and other items in mass quantities.
  • Reefer Trailers: Refrigerated trucks (also known as reefers) are typically used by the meat and dairy industry to transport all perishable food items.

Top-Selling Trucking Equipment by Territory

When it comes to sales, it’s no secret that some products sell better in certain regions. For example, swimsuits and sunscreen tend to sell better in warmer parts of the country, like Florida, as opposed to colder regions, like Alaska. The same idea can be said for heavy-duty equipment, such as trucks and trailers.   

Discover which trucks and trailers pair best with which regions below:

Central

  • Conventional Trucks with a Sleeper
  • Conventional Day Cab Trucks
  • Flatbed Trailers
  • Dry Van Trailers
  • Drop Deck Trailers

North Central

  • Conventional Day Cab Trucks
  • Conventional Trucks with a Sleeper
  • Dump Trucks
  • Hopper/Grain Trailers
  • Box Trucks – Dry Cargo-Delivery

South Central

  • Conventional Trucks with a Sleeper
  • Conventional Day Cab Trucks
  • Flatbed Trailers
  • Dump Trucks
  • Box Trucks – Dry Cargo-Delivery

Mid Atlantic

  • Conventional Trucks with a Sleeper
  • Conventional Day Cab Trucks
  • Dump Trucks
  • Flatbed Trailers
  • Reefer Trailers

Great Lakes

  • Conventional Trucks with a Sleeper
  • Conventional Day Cab Trucks
  • Dump Trucks
  • Flatbed Trailers
  • Dry Van Trailers

Western

  • Conventional Trucks with a Sleeper
  • Conventional Day Cab Trucks
  • Reefer Trailers
  • Dry Van Trailers
  • Cab & Chassis Trucks

North Eastern

  • Conventional Day Cab Trucks
  • Conventional Trucks with a Sleeper
  • Dump Trucks
  • Box Trucks – Dry Cargo-Delivery
  • Cab & Chassis Trucks

South Eastern

  • Conventional Trucks with a Sleeper
  • Conventional Day Cab Trucks
  • Reefer Trailers
  • Dry Van Trailers
  • Flatbed Trailers

Mountain West

  • Conventional Trucks with a Sleeper
  • Conventional Day Cab Trucks
  • Reefer Trailers
  • Flatbed Trailers
  • Dump Trucks
Image Credit: TruckPaper.com

Why a repair loan is important now more than ever

Don’t let the cost of repairs and the current truck shortage slow you down. As a truck driver, your vehicle is your lifeline. When it breaks down or needs parts and repairs, your income and livelihood are on the line. And if the repairs or parts required aren’t within your budget, you could be facing quite the predicament. Fortunately, companies like Mission Financial Services can help by offering specialized commercial vehicle repair loans. These loans assist in covering the cost of repairs and help get your rig back on the road

To obtain a commercial vehicle repair loan, you will need to complete and submit three online forms, including a credit application, vehicle spec sheet, and sales order.

How to Identify When a Clutch is Failing

5 Signs of a Bad Clutch

For heavy-duty trucks, the clutch plays a crucial role in the rig’s full functionality. The mechanical piece acts as the link between your engine, transmission, and driveshaft and allows drivers to shift between gears while hauling freight. The clutch also optimizes your engine’s performance, maximizes your rig’s fuel economy, and helps drivers achieve top-notch safety, when properly maintained.

While most clutches are designed to withstand long hauls and excessive use, these mechanical links are not indestructible. The fact is, at some point in your driving career, you’re guaranteed to replace a clutch or two. How often you replace them depends on several factors, including how well you operate the equipment and the amount of maintenance you put into it—but you’ll still replace the piece, eventually.

Signs of a failing clutch and how you can fix it.

As previously mentioned, the life of a clutch can vary depending on the application, hauling frequency, and the weight of your cargo; even the amount of traffic you face can have an effect. And while some modern rigs offer a maintenance light for the clutch, older rigs don’t have the luxury. So, how do you determine a failing clutch before it becomes a dangerous problem?

Here are the most common indicators to listen and feel for when determining the state of your clutch:

1. The engine is running fast, but the rig is moving slow.

When it feels like your engine is running faster than your rig, you may be experiencing “clutch slippage.” This issue occurs when the clutch’s ability to generate friction is compromised. 

The issue is, the clutch relies on this friction to turn the flywheel, and without it, the clutch has to work harder to produce less energy, resulting in the engine running harder than your truck. This could also cause your engine to be noticeably louder when accelerating.

So, what causes slippage, and how do you fix it? Generally, slippage is caused by wear and tear on the clutch or heat damage from “burning the clutch.” The problem can also be due to an oil or transmission leak, or occur when the pressure link is damaged or does not transmit adequate force due to a blockage or rust damage.

2. When the clutch pedal is pressed, you hear a squealing or chirping.

If your clutch pedal is squealing or chirping, it’s likely due to an issue with the throwout or pilot bearing. To avoid this problem, regularly check the parts and keep them well-lubricated to avoid frequent rubbing.

3. The pedal is noisy, sticky, spongy, or loose.

If you notice the pedal making any abnormal noises or feeling sticky/spongy, you may be looking at an issue with the clutch fork. This problem can be due to inadequate lubrication or general deterioration and can be determined/fixed by a technician.

If the pedal squeaks or feels loose, you may need to replace the pedal’s spring or another ill-fitting component.

4. The clutch won’t engage.

A few different things could cause this issue of a sticky or unresponsive clutch. For starters, there may be an issue with the clutch pedal not being compatible with a specific part or component. However, you could also be looking at a problem with the clutch disc or pressure plate. 

The possibilities for this problem are somewhat endless, so it’s best to have a technician run further diagnostics tests to determine the cause and solution.

5. You hear a grinding noise.

This grinding noise is often called a “dragging clutch.” While this could result from an issue with the pressure plate or throwout bearing, it’s typically a problem with the release mechanism. 

When you press the clutch pedal, your clutch should release so you can change gears without grinding them. However, if there’s a problem with the release, the gears will create a grinding sound and, in turn, damage your transmission.

You will most likely need a new clutch assembly to resolve this problem, but you should have a technician inspect your pedal to ensure all components are correctly installed.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s vital to make an appointment with a trusted mechanic or service technician. They will be able to diagnose your clutch’s issue properly and determine which parts and/or repairs you may need.

How to optimize the life expectancy of your clutch.

Whether you’re replacing parts of your clutch system or replacing the entire mechanism, every truck driver will eventually be forced to replace their clutch. However, with proper maintenance and regular inspections, you can optimize the life and performance of your clutch and keep on trucking. 

Below are the best ways to keep your clutch in top shape

1. Don’t ride the clutch.

You’ve probably heard this statement before, but it’s essential for a long-lasting clutch. After a long haul, it can be easy to rest your foot on the clutch pedal or leave it halfway down to make changing gears more manageable. But, in the long run, the minimal amount of comfort you will achieve is not worth the excessive amount of damage to your clutch and transmission.

Bottom line, when you aren’t shifting gears, keep your foot off of the clutch. Instead, use the dead pedal or the floor.

You should also avoid using your clutch as an alternate brake or as a way to prevent your rig from rolling back on hills.

2. Be sure to shift gears properly.

To properly change gears, only shift after you’ve fully engaged the clutch and keep the pedal down until you’re in gear. Once you’re where you want to be, come off of the pedal quickly and smoothly.

It’s vital to the longevity of your clutch to make decisive changes. And while a few modulations may be necessary when coming out of first gear, it’s essential to not leave your clutch in between the “engaged” and “disengaged” positions for too long.

3. Always park in neutral.

When parking your heavy-duty truck, be sure to park while in neutral. To do so, put your transmission in neutral, then apply your parking brake. After that, shift into first gear if facing uphill, or reverse if facing downhill. Following these steps will not only prevent your rig from rolling away but will also ensure that there is no excess pressure on your clutch.

How a repair loan can help.

When your truck breaks down or needs parts and repairs, your income and livelihood are put at risk. And if the repairs or parts required aren’t within your budget, you could be facing quite the predicament. Fortunately, Mission Financial Services can help by offering specialized commercial vehicle repair loans that assist in covering the cost of repairs and help get your rig back on the road

To obtain a commercial vehicle repair loan, you will need to complete and submit three online forms, including a credit application, vehicle spec sheet, and sales order. 

5 Most Common Truck Problems and Repairs

With the need to meet the ever-increasing “just-in-time” demand for delivery timelines, changing logistics, and sweating the assets in longer life cycles of duty, it’s easy to slack on the preventive maintenance schedule.  

As an operator, having the best tools in your toolbox to solve common problems and knowing when to make needed repairs is the key to meeting your target’s deadlines and keeping your rig rolling on schedule. That means that you’ve got to know all about the requirements of truck repair. Let’s explore some of the more common repairs that fleet operators see with today’s trucks.

1. ENGINE OVERHEATING

An overheated engine can cause many residual effects on a truck. For example, the issue might be a blown gasket, or something related to the fuel tank. Regardless, over time, this can lead to engine failure if the problem is left too long. Therefore, working with a maintenance professional is crucial to review and address signs of overheating on your vehicle. In the long term, this can prevent failure at a critical time and save you big bucks.

On average, here is what you will pay for “check engine” related repairs per state:

TOP 10 MOST EXPENSIVE STATES

California$410.73
Connecticut$406.49
Colorado$403.03
D.C.$400.68
Utah$395.86
Georgia$395.05
New Jersey$389.23
Montana$388.71
Tennessee$388.13
Virginia$387.76
Data: Forbes

2. STARTER FAILURE

Starter mechanisms should be reviewed more often as the colder weather approaches. Starter failure can become a common problem in the winter months. Clear signs of issues with a starter will likely be noticed by the operator first, and the ignition will only get worse as the temperature outside gets colder. During the motor start phase, nonessential components (such as radios) should be turned off in order to diagnose the problem.

*Read 5 Tips for Winterizing your semi-truck.

3. U-JOINT FAILURE

U-joints are necessary for power to transfer to the differentiator from the transmission. The U-joints must be lubricated to minimize wear and tear, and if the U-joint is about to fail, a driver may notice a clicking sound. Another sign of imminent U-joint failure can be vibrations at higher speeds. If a driver experiences either of these signs, at the earliest convenience, the U-joint has to be replaced.

4. BRAKE ISSUES

A comprehensive strategy for brake maintenance is critical. On a regular basis, likely due to the pressure from today’s larger payloads, modern trucks frequently experience issues with brake pedals or the braking system. Brake fluid leaks and even total brake failure can occur if trucks have not been maintained effectively. Fortunately, if one brake fails, the independent brake system still allows the driver to stop using the other brakes.

5. WHEEL BEARINGS & TIRES

In order for your wheel to move along the road with as little friction as possible, important components called wheel bearings are necessary. While they’re moving, if the driver notices an unusual amount of noise generated from the wheel wells, the bearings could be degraded. Another sign could be unstable road movements or a jerking feeling of the truck. Even if your tires are properly inflated, these types of problems are extremely common. Make sure to always replace worn out tires and keep plenty of spares on deck.

*Read 7 Crucial Tips for Tire Maintenance and Repair!

PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE

Federal safety regulations require all semi-trucks to have a full inspection by a qualified inspector annually. The inspection must meet the federal guidelines, performed by someone with the proper training, certifications, and experience.

*Check out these Tips For Staying in Compliance

Having a five-plus year plan of what you will need to replace could aid in planning and avoiding a show-stopping price tag. In addition, with the current post-COVID-19 climate, finding OEM assets required can be challenging in an emergency. Being prepared and aware of your options can be very critical in a crisis.

Semi-truck maintenance can be expensive and unpredictable, but it’s a necessary evil that comes with ownership. It’s tempting to put off repairs until damage occurs, but regular maintenance is crucial to preventing more severe problems down the road.

Want more information? Check out our blog, Everything You Need to Know About Annual Semi-Truck Maintenance.

Tips for Preparing Your Semi-Truck for Summer

Are you ready for a hot semi-truck summer? The warm weather is already here in some places, and truckers need to prepare their vehicles for what lies ahead. While most of this information may seem common sense, it serves as a good reminder for even experienced truckers to take proactive steps to prepare for the coming months. 

With more than 15 million trucks and 2 million tractor-trailers on the road, owner/operators need to take special care of their equipment at all times. Here are some things truckers should keep in mind this time of year:

1. Do a summer maintenance checkup

Truckers traditionally make preparations for the harsh winter weather, while summer conditions are sometimes overlooked. Hotter temperatures may mean a new set of measurements and calibration to ensure each component is set to work properly.

Tires

Colder temperatures compress air within the tires, giving off the impression that the tire pressure is too low. Some drivers will put more air into the tires to account for this change. However, once the weather begins to warm up, the air decompresses and can make tire pressure too high. As temperatures rise, do a tire pressure check to set a new normal.

Battery and Engine

Batteries struggle to work their best in cold weather, so keeping a solid charge during the warmer months is usually not a concern. Truckers should double-check their battery, though, heading into summer to ensure it works properly. Sometimes excessive heat can drain a battery, so monitor its charge regularly. Truckers also need to verify their truck engines stay cool as well. Inspect the truck’s coolant levels and hoses to avoid overheating and replace any suspect parts before they break.

AC

Spending all day in a truck without air conditioning sounds like a nightmare. Check internal cooling systems as summer starts, looking for leaks or cracks in the tubing. Get any parts replaced in order to have a comfortable ride no matter how hot it gets outside.

2. Be ready for emergencies

All experienced owner/operators know to be ready for whatever comes their way. That includes creating an emergency kit that can help when something goes wrong. An emergency kit should include items to help truckers survive and recover whenever an emergency happens. 

Some key things to have in an emergency kit:

  • Several days of food and water
  • Extra clothes
  • Cash
  • Cellphone and charger
  • Flashlight
  • Toolbox with tools of varying sizes
  • Flares
  • Swiss Army knife

It’s also a good idea to keep a first-aid kit in the truck. Use the beginning of summer as an opportunity to check that everything in the kit is current and replace any items that may have expired.

3. Take care of your health

It is vital that owner/operators take care of their physical and mental health at all times. During the summer months, truckers should wear sunscreen each day, even if they do not plan to spend much time out of the cab. While some truck windows protect from harmful UV light, truckers may often find themselves outside and need that layer of protection.

Truckers should also stay hydrated, drinking water and other healthy drinks while avoiding soda. Staying hydrated will help keep drivers alert while driving and avoid any possible distractions from feeling thirsty or dehydrated.

It’s also important to focus on regulating emotions on the road. The summer typically means more drivers on the road, especially on weekends. This may lead to increased traffic or more inexperienced drivers trying to navigate the increased traffic. Truckers must remember this fact and attempt to stay calm during stressful driving situations.

Preparing for a Busy Year

With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to fade away, more and more people this summer are expected to travel. Even with increasing gas prices, there is expected to be a significant amount of traffic on the road as people want to leave their homes after spending much of the past year stuck inside.

Both owner/operators and other truckers must be prepared for this surge and ensure both their trucks and themselves are prepared for what comes ahead. For many truck drivers, the summer season may be seen as a respite from the snowy and icy conditions of winter. Summer brings its own challenges, but by taking the steps mentioned above, they can feel prepared and ready to take on the coming months.

7 Crucial Tips for Truck Tire Maintenance and Repair

Why it’s important to choose the right tires for your semi-truck

Every trucker has heard it a million times: The tires are the only part of the truck touching the road, so take care of them at all times. This advice has become so commonplace that it likely gets overlooked among the wide range of safety and performance checks drivers make each day before hitting the road.

It is imperative, though, that truckers ensure their tires work at peak performance at all times. A damaged tire presents an immediate safety concern for the driver and other motorists on the road. Let’s take a minute and look at what truck drivers should look for in their tires and the best ways to maintain them for safety and efficiency.

How to Pick the Correct Tires for Your Truck

The best tires for each driver depend on the type of truck piloted and the driver’s typical routes. Advances in tire technology continue to provide benefits, but even then, truck drivers may not be comfortable with some of the performance or cost tradeoffs that happen.

The traditional dual tire structure remains the most popular, but wide-based low-resistance tires continue to grow in popularity. As their name suggests, these tires provide less resistance than traditional tires, offering drivers improved gas mileage. When the price of diesel fuel is low, these types of tires are used less, as they need to be replaced more often; however, when the price of fuel climbs above $4 per gallon, they may become more cost-efficient over time.

How to Take Care of Your Truck Tires

No matter what type of tires you use, it is vital they work properly. Here are some tire maintenance checks all drivers should regularly make.

  1. Check air pressure.

Over- or under-inflated tires can reduce the performance of a truck and alter how it drives or reacts in an emergency. Drivers should manually check their air pressure before every trip to ensure it meets the manufacturer-designated standards. Larger fleets should consider using tire pressure monitoring systems (TMPS) and continuous tire inflation systems (CTIS) on trailers. While they bring an added cost, these systems ensure tire pressure remains safe and consistent.

  1. Check tread depth.

Along with air pressure, the depth of tire treads should be checked before every trip. The standard way is to put a penny with Lincoln upside down between the treads. If Lincoln’s face is visible, it is time for a new set.

  1. Rotate tires.

Based on where they are on a truck, tires can receive uneven wear and tear on the tread. Rotating tires every 6,000 to 8,000 miles can help expand their life span. Along with rotating tires, complete a full three-axle wheel alignment as well. While these measures may seem tedious, they go a long way in keeping tires on the road.

  1. Ensure proper wheel torque.

This is easier than it sounds. Wheel torque is the simple act of adjusting the lug nuts on your wheels. Wheels that are either too tight or too loose can cause damage while driving, so take a few minutes and check each one before you start a trip.

  1. Practice good habits.

Tires are designed to perform a certain way. Driving too fast, making hard stops, or accelerating too quickly can quicken tire deterioration. Continue to drive in a safe manner that follows all road laws and best practices to protect tires and other valuable equipment.

  1. Fix problems when they happen.

For busy truckers, it can be easy to neglect small items that need fixing. Too often, these smaller problems grow into larger ones that can increase the cost of repairs. If you notice something is wrong with a tire or any part of your truck, make an effort to fix it as quickly as possible, so it does not turn into a larger problem.

  1. Stay up to date.

New information about tires and other preventative safety measures constantly change and are continually updated. Even experienced drivers need to ensure they have all the latest training and adhere to new standards and laws when driving. Drivers can never have enough training, so put yourself in a continuous learning state to enjoy long-term success.

Drivers today must work within several standards and regulations to properly operate on the road. This can feel like a lot at times. These steps are important, and taking smart care of your truck and its tires will provide sustainable financial benefits for you and your operation.

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