In “Forever My Baby” I wrote about paying attention to what our trucks are telling us. I wanted to expound on that just a little bit, focusing on vibrations.

Now, I’m not much of a mechanic. Back in the ’80s, I did my fair share of wrenching on my cars. That was when I could only afford cars I could still work on. Things have become much more technologically advanced and I am much better off financially and I would have no idea where to start now, so I’m more than happy to pay somebody for their expertise. 

But even with all the advances, there are a few things that remain true. One of them is simply that vibrations are bad. Vibrations are a sign that something is out of balance, out of alignment or getting ready to fail. Whichever the case, the cause of the problem needs to be determined and fixed. If you wait too long a small problem could turn into a major catastrophe.

It’s Just a Truck

It’s easy to just put it to the back of our minds, after all, it is a truck, not a luxury car. It takes a beating on our less than stellar roadways. Stuff is gonna happen to it, right? Creaks and groans and rattles are just part of being used and should be expected on any vehicle shouldn’t it? 

Probably, I know my body starts making more and more creaks, pops, and cracks the older I get. Does that mean nothing is wrong with me? I hope so, but it could be a sign of something going wrong. Ignoring it won’t make it go away. The same can be said of our trucks.

Pay Attention, Take Care of It

A tire out of balance will wear unevenly and create an uncomfortable driving experience. 11 hours of a steering wheel bouncing around in your hand all day will make for a long day. A broken belt can do the same thing, as well as increasing the chance for failure. Don’t assume it’s just an out of balance tire. Examine the tire. Separating tread or a wavy tread pattern is a good way to determine that a belt is broken. That tire should be replaced immediately. An out of balance tire can wait, but don’t put that off too long either. 

Are you experiencing front tire bounce around 45 mph up to about 55 or 60? This could be an alignment issue where your steer tires are toed out. Again, this is something you should get checked as soon as possible. I don’t mess around when it comes to tires. I have everything riding on them.

U-Joints can wear out too, causing high-speed vibrations or even a low-speed wobble that seems to come from the back of the truck. Again, don’t ignore this. Having one of these come apart at 65 mph is NOT a fun experience, especially if that driveshaft decides to dig into the road at full speed.

Always Pay Attention

Look for uneven tire wear. Always check your rims for cracks and loose lug nuts.

Check the driveline for shiny metal that wasn’t there before. Listen for clanks and clunks when off and stopping. Pay attention to vibrations when accelerating and slowing down. These could be signs of trouble brewing. 

The bottom line is this, pay attention to everything, even the stuff you just write off as old age or wear and tear. A little work now can save a lot of work and headaches later. Take care of issues right away,  it can save a lot of money and I don’t know about you, but I don’t like throwing money away.

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Clark W Reed

Clark Reed of Roscoe, Illinois is an OTR company driver and trainer for Nussbaum Transportation based out of Hudson, Illinois. He has been driving since 2005 and has driven van, reefer, and tanker. He currently hauls dry van to all lower 48 states. Clark is passionate about MPGs and how driver habits influence them. The lifetime average of his 2018 Cascadia is 9.75 mpg, with eyes on 10. Clark, along with Henry Albert, was one of the seven drivers in 2017's "Run on Less" by NACFE, a road show, demonstrating what fuel efficiency can be obtained with existing technologies.

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