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Old 04-23-2007, 02:03 PM   #1 (permalink)
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semi truck maintenance


Hey guys

I am looking at getting a big rig. What does it cost in yearly maintenance? Can you give me a break down of the service intervals of the different components of a big rig (tire rotations, balancing, oil changes etc)

thanks,
Andrew
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Old 04-23-2007, 02:21 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: semi truck maintenance

Full service oil changes will run $200-300 depending on what engine you get and what service level you request. Full service with a trailer lube for my Cummins N14 runs around $225. You'll want to have it serviced ever 12-15k. Thats about once every 1-2 months depending on how much you run.

Balancing is around $25 per tire, but you usually only have to worry about the steer tires. Doesn't help much to balance the rear duals. Sometimes when the steers wear down a bit you'll want to have them rebalanced, but you should get close to a year out of a good set of steer tires.

Most shops will charge around $100 for a full tire rotation. Thats drives side-to-side and steers side-to-side. Doesn't hurt to do it every 30-50k.
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Old 04-23-2007, 03:05 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: semi truck maintenance

Thanks aceohearts

I was looking into getting a 1990-2000 peterbilt 379 with a 10 speed tranny.

I am not sure what engine to go with, what is the least problematic engine with low cost replacement parts?

anything else service/ repair related?

How does the brake system work? any parts to replace after awhile?

thanks,
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Old 04-23-2007, 03:38 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: semi truck maintenance

The trucking company I work for does our own maintenance, so I cant say much for cost. Every 30,000 miles our trucks get greased front to rear, along with oil, filter, and fuel filters changed and coolant protection checked and serviced as required.

We dont rotate any tires, and the only tires that get balanced are steer tires. We usually dont re-balance steer tires, but when a driver complains about a vibration we replace both steer tires with a new, balanced set and run the take off tires on a trailer. We had Goodyear drive tires on our brand new trucks, and at about 100,000 miles they have about 1/3 of their life left, and the brakes are about 20% worn. The only braking components that really 'wear' are the drums and shoes. Air lines occasionally break and eventually the compressor will fail, but those really arent maintenance items.

Aside from the labor cost, maintenance on a semi really doesnt seem much more expensive or labor intensive as a pickup. The only real difference is there's a larger volume of oil to drain, and a lot more fittings to grease. If you do it yourself, you can do a fairly complete service in about two hours.

The only other 'maintenance' item that I can think of is a yearly Federal inspection that has to be done by a commercial shop that will keep a record of doing it for the appropriate amount of time. All they'll really do is inspect the truck and certify that as of the date of inspection, it is in safe and roadworthy shape. If you maintain the truck, you'll probably never fail one.
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Old 04-23-2007, 04:02 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: semi truck maintenance


generally how many fittings are there to grease?

How long do air compressors generally last?

Do big rigs use any of these components or do they use something else instead?
Ball Joints
Idler Arm
Pitman Arm
Steering Gear
Steering Knuckle
Tie Rod

thanks,
Andrew
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Old 04-23-2007, 04:03 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: semi truck maintenance

[ QUOTE ]
I am not sure what engine to go with, what is the least problematic engine with low cost replacement parts?

anything else service/ repair related?

How does the brake system work? any parts to replace after awhile?


[/ QUOTE ]

I'm personally a fan of Cummins engines. I have (and love) an N-14. The ISX is supposed to be a good engine, but try to avoid the first couple production years (2001-2003). Detroits aren't as well known for reliability, and CAT's tend to be a little more expensive to maintain and repair.

The major fleets, will service their trucks every 30-40k, but they usually lease them and return them before they hit 500k. So they aren't worried about long-term durability. Most owner-operators who want to be able to run an engine for a long time will run service intervals of less than 20k. I've even known guys to run 10k intervals, but I stick to 15k.

Brakes usually hold up pretty well if you drive with care. I tend to slow down and gear down before going down a steep hill. That way the engine brake will do most of the work. I've been doing this and had fleet trucks pass me going 15-20mph faster and riding their brakes all the way down the hill. But, what to they care? They aren't paying to replace the brakes. When you do need to replace the shoes, you can pick up a set of 8 shoes for around $160. But unless you have the tools to do it, you're better off paying a shop to replace them...usually runs around $400 for a full set on the drive axles. If you want to do them yourself, you'll need a STRONG air compressor (175 psi) and a 1" impact gun in order to remove the tires. Also, on the subject, the brakes on the steering axle will last forever. They contribute very little to stopping the vehicle. In the 400,000 miles I've put on my current truck, I've done the drive brakes twice, and haven't had to touch the steer brakes.
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Old 04-23-2007, 04:14 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: semi truck maintenance

From the front of the truck back, you'll have a grease fitting at the top and bottom of each steering kingpin, one on the bottom of each tie rod end, and one at each end of the drag link. There's also one on each slack adjuster and S cam, which means you'll have about 5 grease fittings on the passengers side of the steer axle, and about 7 on the driver's side. There's one on the clutch release bearing, then one at every U- joint in the driveline. The rear brakes have one fitting on each slack adjuster and S cam tube, so there are usually two fittings per drive wheel. You'll probably have fittings on the side of the fifth wheel near the mounting pins, and possibly elsewhere on the lower fifth wheel plate for the slider mechanism. There are also usually one to two fittings on the steering shaft that goes from the wheel to the gearbox.

For engines, I like the N-14. We have several International 9400 trucks at work with N-14s that are over 700 and 800,000 miles on the original engines.
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Old 04-23-2007, 04:18 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: semi truck maintenance


how often do you need to replace the steering kingpin,tie rod, drag link, U-joints,slack adjuster and S cam tube? or are these things that don't get replaced often?

it looks like the N-14 is the way to go.

thanks,
Andrew
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Old 04-23-2007, 04:26 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: semi truck maintenance

The tie rod and S cam tube generally dont need to be replaced. The tie rod ends will wear out, and the bushings in the tube will wear, but the actual components dont really get damaged unless you run over something, and anything big enough to hurt them will damaged other stuff, too. The slack adjusters and kingpins will usually last a really long time, if they're properly greased. I've only done two sets of kingpins, and both were on old (one 1994 Pete and a 1997 Volvo) trucks. The trucks I mentioned earlier (the 7 and 800K ones) are still on the original front end.

The U-joints and drag links are hard for me to guess. Our 8600 Internationals usually need U joints around 215,000, but the 9400s and Sterlings average around 300K. However, the drag links for the Sterlings are going at just over 100K. The key is to just keep everything well greased, and it'll usually last a couple of years.
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Old 04-23-2007, 04:28 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: semi truck maintenance


thanks guys for all the informative info. Is there anything else I should know about?

thanks,
Andrew
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Old 04-23-2007, 05:56 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: semi truck maintenance

Plan on putting .05-.10 cents per mile into a fund for on the road repairs.
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UPDATED 1/1/09 Replace so far. 1 LUK flywheel+clutch, 2 thermostats, 2 set of brakes, 1 set of calipers, 5 CPS, 3 sets of tires, 2 Transfer pumps, 1 Injector modual, 1 Computer, 2 Alt, 2 sets of batteries, 1 Water pump, 6 Belts, 1 PS hose, 2 Sets ball joints, 2 set u-joints, 2 carrier bearing, 2 Speed sensors, 1 oil pres sender, 1 temp sender, 4 sets of e-break cables, 1 front fuel tank, 2 rear fuel tanks, 2 set of glow plugs, 7 Glow plug relays, Oil galley o-rings, Turbo pedistal o-rings, EBPV o-rings, 3 sets of Injector O-rings, 1 Vac-pump, 1 new carpet, 1 total paint job.Total $$$ in repairs v/s miles driven = 4.6 cents per mile. Add fuel to that it jumps to 16.5 cents per mile over the life of the truck.
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Old 04-23-2007, 06:12 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: semi truck maintenance


I was planning on $0.15 on maint and $0.60 per mile total including fuel. Is fuel tax extra or is that included when you fill up and pay on the spot?[img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/shrug.gif[/img]

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Old 04-23-2007, 09:02 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: semi truck maintenance

[ QUOTE ]
The U-joints and drag links are hard for me to guess....The key is to just keep everything well greased, and it'll usually last a couple of years.

[/ QUOTE ]

Depends on the U-Joints, my Volvo has 830,000 miles and still has the original U-joints. The guys at the driveline shop tell me they are a long life style and should go over a million miles with proper lubrication.

[ QUOTE ]

I was planning on $0.15 on maint and $0.60 per mile total including fuel. Is fuel tax extra or is that included when you fill up and pay on the spot?[img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/shrug.gif[/img]

[/ QUOTE ]

Both. Most states belong to IFTA (Interstate Fuel Tax Agreement) and you pay the taxes at the pump, then they figure total taxes paid and total miles run at the end of each quarter and try to balance everything out. You'll end up owing some states and getting a refund from others. If you lease on to a company, they'll probably do this for you. If you go completely independant, you might want to look into some of the services that will do it for you. You'll also have the Federal Form 2290 that will be due every July, and usually runs me about $550 a year.

When you say $0.60 total I hope you are refering to operating costs. Because if that's total revenue you'll starve to death. I personally don't understand how the guys that lease to companies like Swift make any money even at $1 a mile. Whith fuel prices what they are now, if you run totally independant, you should try to have a minimum rate of about $1.35-1.50 a mile. Remember you have a truck payment, possible trailer payment, around $1000 a month for insurance, workers comp (yes even if you are your only employee, most states require it), plus self employment taxes that are above and beyond your simple operating costs (fuel, oil, permits, & maintenance)
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Sorry to all the loyal 7.3 guys, but I traded my '91 7.3 in on a 2002 F250 Ex cab V10 4x4. SCT Xcalibrator2 with tunes by Powerplay Performance. 285/75/16 Toyo M/T's. Took a long time to get used to the ping-pop of a cooling catalytic converter...LOL.

'85 Bronco swapped up to a 302 4bbl from the 300 I6, NP435 4spd, NP208, 32x11.50x15 Radial RVT's, Soon to be 6.9 turbo powered.

86 F350 Cab&Chassis with a dump bed. 2wd 6.9 and 4 spd tranny. No mods to engine.

2000 Volvo 660 N14 Cummins, 500hp 1650 ft lbs, Autoshift tranny 10spd.

What part of "SHALL NOT INFRINGE" do you NOT understand?
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Old 04-23-2007, 09:59 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: semi truck maintenance

Due to remarks from above post, get a Series 60 engine, better on fuel mileage and does NOT always break down like the other guys said. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]
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Old 04-23-2007, 11:42 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: semi truck maintenance

[ QUOTE ]
Due to remarks from above post, get a Series 60 engine, better on fuel mileage and does NOT always break down like the other guys said. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

[/ QUOTE ]

I average 6-7mpg with my N-14, the last series 60 I drove ran just under 6. And it had 30 fewer horses. Not to mention that the Cummins has the strongest engine brake...

Also, I had to put 2 water pumps in it in the 18 months I drove it, and it insisted on leaking coolant. As soon as I'd fix one leak it would develop another one somewhere else. 2 months after I got out of it, the guy that took it over had to rebuild it. The heads were bad, and the bottom end was shot. I think I was pretty gentle with the engine, but the guy that owned it wanted 30k oil changes and didn't like to keep up on the maintenance.

Basically, any motor is as good as the guy driving and maintaining it. That being said, I'll still take a Cummins over the other two big names any day. Haven't had any experience with the other brands like Volvo, or Mercedes, so I can't say much about them. However I knew a guy that had an older Volvo with the Volvo engine, and it seemed kind of gutless. Plus his parts prices were pretty high. I hear they've improved, but only in the last 2-3 years, and according to what you said that's a little newer than what you're looking for anyway. Plus they don't put Volvo engines in Pete's. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/tongue.gif[/img]
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Sorry to all the loyal 7.3 guys, but I traded my '91 7.3 in on a 2002 F250 Ex cab V10 4x4. SCT Xcalibrator2 with tunes by Powerplay Performance. 285/75/16 Toyo M/T's. Took a long time to get used to the ping-pop of a cooling catalytic converter...LOL.

'85 Bronco swapped up to a 302 4bbl from the 300 I6, NP435 4spd, NP208, 32x11.50x15 Radial RVT's, Soon to be 6.9 turbo powered.

86 F350 Cab&Chassis with a dump bed. 2wd 6.9 and 4 spd tranny. No mods to engine.

2000 Volvo 660 N14 Cummins, 500hp 1650 ft lbs, Autoshift tranny 10spd.

What part of "SHALL NOT INFRINGE" do you NOT understand?
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