Trucker 6964 03at2018sptlightpix2 0

Spotlight on an American Trucker: Desiree Wood

March 15, 2018
Desiree Wood, leased to Emway Inc.: “I got my CDL 10 years ago. I was a company driver until August, 2017, when I leased onto Emway Inc. and purchased a 2016 Kenworth T680 with Cummins ISX15 13 speed. The trailer’s a 2013 Utility 53-ft. dry van hauling general freight.”

Q: How do you handle maintenance and repairs?
A: [I go to] Speedco or TA for my PMs. I set money aside weekly for maintenance/repairs. My truck still has some factory and extended warranty.; everything else is on me. I’m running strictly on faith I can get my maintenance/repairs nest egg built up before the warranties run out. I study the issues my truck’s encountered; I do my part to care for the truck.

Q: What are three challenges with your maintenance/repair program?
A: Time, money, location. I’ve found places to get work done but had to make an appointment weeks out, which meant unknown downtime. When trying to get in for a PM, often the wait is too long, and I don’t have time. There are days you do have time, but you can’t really get [everything] taken care of because it’s out of the budget. I keep a list of what needs to be done, and I try to get something knocked off every two weeks to keep things shipshape. If something urgent comes up, that takes priority.

Q: How do you minimize downtime?
A: I do my inspections, do PMs on schedule, listen/watch for unusual noises or changes, and ask for advice from others who have the same equipment. I read [posts from] different maintenance groups and forums, so I have a better idea of costs. When I talk to mechanics, I try to learn more about the issue for future reference.

Q: Mileage/time intervals on PM?
A: I get PMs about every 15,000 miles, but I go in between for tire checks—getting greased and just checking. I’m getting about 7.9 mpg and up to 10 mpg when I’m running California at 55 mph, light load.

Q: How do you get good tire mileage?
A: My tires have at least 110 psi cold.

Q: Do you stock any parts?
A: Recently, driver Idella Hansen gave me a list that includes fuel filters and wrench, belts, clamps, bulbs/fuses, and an air governor. For winter weather, I stock fuel additive and kitty litter, and I set money aside for a wrecker.

Q: How do you determine when it’s time to replace a truck/trailer?
A: I think about that, but my equipment’s relatively new and in great condition. I make sure minor repairs don’t turn into major repairs so the tractor/trailer lasts as long as possible.

Q: Your biggest business challenge?
A: The biggest challenge is to get my first year in as an owner-operator and not have any major repairs before I can establish a maintenance/repairs savings account.

Q: What regulation would you change?
A: The 14-hour rule—it’s not practical with the ELD mandate, detention times, and traffic in some areas. It would be nice to know you can take a nap, avoid rush hour, slide through metro areas in off-peak times, and not feel glued to the seat [because] the clock is ticking.

Q: What do you enjoy most about trucking?
A: I still get excited when I’m picking up a load, and I’ve seen the product in stores. There’s something magical being part of the supply chain. I like knowing I helped do something important that served others.

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