It’s not if you break down; it’s when. Throughout your trucking career, you’re bound to have the dreaded situation where your truck breaks down.
Even the best, most upkept equipment that goes through regular maintenance checks and routine daily inspections can break down – and it always seems to happen at the worst times, doesn’t it? Breakdowns are unpredictable and sure to put a damper on your day but are unavoidable when you live the trucker life.
Here’s some advice on what to do when you’re facing a breakdown.
Stay calm. The worst thing you could do is start freaking out because of frustration. Rushing leads to bad decision-making, reducing your safety and the safety of others around you. No matter where you break down, it is vital that you stay calm even in the most unsavory places.
Try to avoid the shoulder, if possible. We can’t decide where a mechanical failure will occur but try limping your truck to a better alternative than the shoulder of the road – if it’s safe to do so.
The shoulder of a highway is dangerous as you are exposed to speeding traffic very close to you. Not to mention any inattentive drivers who may plow into you. Off ramps are safer than the shoulder, parking lots and access roads are even better choices. Of course, the best option is a truck stop or rest area, but chances are there isn’t one near.
With that being said, if you have to go on the shoulder, stay alert. Pay attention to traffic and stay in the truck as much as possible.
If you are parked on the shoulder or ramp, get your triangles or flares set up. You can also open the hood as another method to inform traffic that you are broken down and won’t be moving anytime soon.
Diagnose the problem and determine if it is a repair that you can easily safely make yourself while on the shoulder or if you will need to call for roadside repair. Different companies have different procedures for roadside assistance, so make sure you know the policy.
Don’t forget to call dispatch and let them know that you have broken down. You will want to keep them regularly updated as the truck is being repaired so that they can keep the customer informed.
Tools to Keep in Your Truck
Not all mechanical failures require immediate roadside repair. Often it’s possible to do minor repairs that allow you to get moving to a safer spot for a proper repair and avoid the extra time and cost of a roadside repair or tow. Safety is the number one thing here. If the truck cannot move safely then wait for a roadside repair or a tow truck.
Having some tools with you will make your life easier. Carry the following tools with you:
- quality flashlight(s)
- tire chocks
- full wrench set
- vice grips
- electrical tape
- adjustable hose clamps
- hose clamps
- duct tape
- plastic zip ties
- extra oil
- extra coolant
- fuel conditioner
- screwdriver set
- tube of silicone
- spare headlights
- assorted fuses
- few circuit breakers
- shoelaces (trust us, they come in handy to get you to a repair shop if your airlines are dragging)
A small assortment of bolts and hoses and a few marking lights will make your day if you find a minor problem during your daily pre-trip inspection.
You never know when or where you may break down, so keeping a supply of safety gear in the jump box will make sure that you are ready to handle anything:
- safety helmet
- safety glasses/goggles
- work gloves
- full set of warm clothing
- boots and gloves
- sleeping bag and/or heavy blankets
- dry food supply
- windshield washer fluid
- cell phone
Breakdowns are frustrating and wreak havoc on our schedules, but it comes with the job. Stay calm and communicate with dispatch and customers about delays.
Earn a Good Living with Len Dubois
We are able to ensure good miles and home time with regular Winnipeg-based clients, regular lanes, and long-term clients. Our experienced team of dispatchers works hard to ensure that your time off and resets are taken at home, not on the road. For drivers, this equals above-average pay and the ability to enjoy a life outside of the truck.
Ask John About the $1000 Sign-On Bonus for Company Drivers and $2000 Sign-On Bonus for Owner Operator’s
- Must have 2 years OTR experience
- Must be able to cross the U.S border
- 80% U.S miles
- Must have a positive attitude about safety & compliance
Let’s have a conversation and see if we’re a good fit for you! Call John, Safety Manager/Driver Recruiter 1-888-590-2760 Ext 309 today.
If you’d prefer, John can contact you. Fill out the form below