Aftertreatment, diagnostics, coolant top maintenance concerns

The changes occurring to trucks as a result of government regulations and technology improvements are making maintenance more important than ever. It can, however, be challenging to keep up with all the new maintenance standards and procedures.

At the recent NationaLease Maintenance Managers Meeting, attendees talked about the things that are keeping them up at night.

“I think it comes as no surprise that that the number one biggest challenge still is with the aftertreatment system,” says Jane Clark, vice president of member services for NationaLease.

“A number of problems arise from small failures, but it seems to be pretty systemic that there are lots of different issues arising with the aftertreatment systems,” she adds.

Problems the meeting attendees cited include diesel exhaust fluid leaking from tanks on certain model trucks and header suction line connections being broken by pressure, especially from ice during the recent cold winter. One big area of concern was with diesel particular filter cleaning. “There was a lot of conversation about whether it is better to clean the DPF, replace it with a reman unit or replace it with a new unit,” Clark says.

There also seems to be some confusion about the proper time to perform DPF maintenance. A recent survey by the North American Council for Freight Efficiency showed that DPF filter maintenance intervals ranged form 180,000 to 400,000 miles. One survey respondent said that the OEMs were telling him that as a regional hauler he should not let the DPF maintenance interval exceed 200,000 miles. But another respondent said that he was told servicing at 400,000 was okay.

Another problem that goes hand in hand with aftertreatment maintenance is engine diagnostics, Clark says. “Our members expressed concern about not only getting a lot of fault codes but sometimes getting false positives — a code appearing when their actually is not a problem.”

Clark says NationaLease members are working with maintenance professionals to help drivers understand which codes are the most important and how urgent it is to get the truck into the shop quickly.

Changes in coolant technology seem to be causing some confusion as well. “There has been lots of conversation about the different kinds of coolant currently on the market, not mixing coolant types and making sure the coolant is right for the engine type,” she explains. The problem is complicated by the fact that several OEMs are switching from one coolant type to another. “Education is important here so people know which coolant to use and are following proper procedures during maintenance to flush the system and test the coolant.”

On board diagnostics and the upcoming greenhouse gas regulations are also weighing heavily on the minds of maintenance professionals. “We understand that there is going to be a 30% increase in diagnostic trouble codes for OBD 16,” Clark says.

Clark says the amount of information that is coming out about the maintenance needs of all these different systems and new technologies is staggering. As a result, “There is no realistic way for every technician to have a chance to read each one of the [service bulletins] as they come out.” She says technicians do review the bulletin as needed to help with specific repairs and to ensure repairs are completed properly.

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