“We’re not sure of all the fleets out there – especially the 10 to 20 truck operators – fully understand the equipment implications of the new CSA 2010 rules. That’s why we’re engaging in several outreach efforts, to try and explain what these new regulations in terms of how fleets take care of their equipment.” –Jeff Sass, marketing manager, Paccar Parts
The implementation date for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) new Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 (CSA 2010) set of safety regulations isn’t far off – it’s November this year, to be exact – and when these new rules go into full effect, many fleets are going to find more emphasis placed on how they maintain their equipment than ever before.
For example, the new CSA 2010 program identifies 10 different groups of parts and accessories that the government considers critical for safe operation, stressed Chris Harrison, general manager of CIT Kenworth of Morton, IL
Among them are lamps, reflective devices, electrical wiring, brakes, glazing and window construction, fuel systems, coupling devices including fifth wheels, miscellaneous equipment such as heaters, and frames, cab and body components, he explained.
As a result, Harrison recommends truck operators and maintenance managers take a number of steps can take to make sure their equipment complies with the new CSA 2010 rules. Those steps include:
• Wash trucks and trailers routinely, particularly during the winter season to remove chemical de-icers and road salts. Routine washings not only prevent corrosion of the body, it also prevents the buildup and potential damage to truck and trailer electrical systems and wheel components, including brakes. Routine washings also help prevent build up of road salts on fifth wheels, which can cause them to seize up. Allowing calcium chlorides and salts to settle on truck and trailer parts for long periods of time can encourage premature damage, particularly if any cracks or chips develop in the protective coating.
• Develop a routine maintenance program for trailers. That includes periodic inspections and replacement of trailer brakes, such as spring brake chambers. Trailers can often sit unused for long periods of time in truck operations, meaning maintenance issues can sometimes go overlooked.
• Consider a replacement program for truck, tractor and trailer lights. New light emitting diode (LED) lighting products can enhance detection of the vehicle or trailer when it’s parked in a dark or dimly lit parking lot or on the side of a road, something that’s particularly important in the dead of winter.
• Follow engine manufacturers’ recommendations for regular valve adjustments and diesel particulate filter [DPF] cleanings. Note this this is needed only for trucks equipped with 2007 or later compliant emission systems.
• Conduct regular analysis of your engine oil condition. This can help you identify potential failures prior to a major expense or downtime.
“As with any vehicle or trailer, regular preventive maintenance properly conducted can identify the potential for problems in the shop before they occur on the road or become a violation of the new federal regulations,” Harrison stressed.
Another big issue is what to do about placing trucks parked for long stretches back into freight-hauling service. “Checking out idled trucks used for spare parts during the economic downturn before they return to service will be particularly important after new federal safety regulations go into effect,” he said.
Harrison said before returning an idled truck to service, it should always be thoroughly checked out – preferably by a trained, qualified technician – since CSA 2010 establishes vehicle maintenance as one of seven categories under which carriers will be examined.
Andy Cox, service manager for CIT Kenworth of Chicago in Joliet, IL, added that the practice of using idled trucks for spare parts was common among a variety of customers from line haulers to construction companies.
Cox recommends an automated parts inventory and fleet maintenance tracking program can be helpful here, particularly ones highlighted in the CSA 2010 rulebook.
“One of the issues we run into is where parts have been taken off of sidelined trucks, but no records were ever kept of which parts were removed,” Cox said. “So if they took a fuel pressure sensor, for example, and no one wrote it down, then nobody would notice until somebody tried to start the truck.”
Here are some other critical areas to double check, he noted, as idled equipment gets prepped for a return to active duty:
• Check the fuel tanks, fuel lines, and fuel filters before putting idled trucks back into service. During the winter, water or moisture can condensate on top of the fuel tank from the fuel constantly freezing and thawing. The lower the fuel level in the tank, the bigger the problem can be, he added. Algae begins to form, actually, from the water condensation within the tank, not the diesel fuel itself, but it can ultimately contaminate the fuel.
• Do not use diesel additives to treat algae in a fuel tank. The truck should be towed to a repair facility that can drain the fuel tank, the fuel pump and fuel lines, properly dispose of the contaminated fuel and clean the injectors and filters, he added. Using additives inside the tank can make the contamination problem worse, particularly if the truck has a 2007 model or newer engine. Newer engines depend on a fuel with very low sulfur content in order to meet the strict emission limits set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or the California Air Resources Board.
• Replace damaged fuel tanks with OEM-quality replacement tanks. These should be ones uses the same thickness and grade of aluminum standards called for in OEM manufacturing.
• Check engine oil seals. When trucks sit for long periods of time without being routinely started and allowed to run for brief amounts of time, the rubber in the seals can actually dry out and deteriorate.
• Examine drive belts, hoses, fittings and adaptors, plus the exhaust system for leaks.
These are just some of the things fleets must keep a closer eye upon as a new set of safety regulations begins to take hold this winter.