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9 Common Big Rig Problems & Repairs

9 Common Big Rig Problems & Repairs

Hauling heavy loads, making deliveries, and getting the job done, your work truck takes on a lot of wear and tear over time. It’s important to keep up with a regular maintenance schedule in order to prevent further problems down the road and ultimately save time and money. If you notice any irregularities or issues with truck parts, you can take care of the problem yourself or take it to a certified and experienced mechanic for repair and proper care. Commercial Truck Trader is sharing nine common big rig problems and repairs.

1. Engine Overheating

Especially with older trucks, engine overheating is a common problem that can lead to serious vehicle damage. In a worst case scenario, it can cause your engine to fail. Corrosion to engine parts, overloading your truck, or running your engine non-stop on long distance journeys can cause your engine to overheat. There are a number of possible causes for your engine running too hot, including a blown gasket, fuel tank damage, or simply not changing your oil or coolant. You can check under the hood to see if you can identify what exactly is wrong, but when it comes to your engine, it may be best to have a mechanic pinpoint the problem.

2. Starter Failure

You’ll immediately notice starter failure or starter problems with your vehicle’s ignition when your truck won’t properly start, or run at all. This occurs more often in cold weather, and can be prevented by winterizing your commercial vehicle. Starter failure can also come from hauling too heavy of a load with your truck or when it’s not receiving enough voltage from a battery. You can find a replacement battery or take it to a mechanic and run a diagnostic on the vehicle to see if there may be another issue with the starter. 

3. U-Joint Failure

Universal joints, or u-joints, transfer power from the transmission to the differentiator in your work truck. You want to keep u-joints lubricated to prevent corrosion and damage over time. You’ll notice a problem with the u-joints when you hear a clicking noise or feel irregular vehicle vibrations while you drive. If you experience this with your vehicle, replace your u-joints as soon as possible.

4. Brake Problems

Larger trucks, like freightliner trucks, that carry heavy duty loads will likely encounter brake problems earlier with either brake pedals or the braking system, so it’s important to know when you may need to replace your brakes. Brake fluid leaks are common and total brake failure can happen, which you never want to occur while you’re on the job. Get your brakes checked by a mechanic and replace them with any sign of wear and tear.

5. Wheels and Tires

There are many common causes of truck tire damage. Your tire tread grooves should be deep and pronounced, because if they’re shallow, the tire may be easier to puncture if you drive over debris on the road. Wheel bearings, which prevent friction between your tires and the road, can experience degrading over time. If there’s noise coming from the wheel wells as you drive, or loss of control as you drive, this may mean you need to replace them. Always keep a spare tire with you, change your tires regularly after reaching a set mileage, and make sure that they’re properly inflated and aligned, and that the tread isn’t worn down.

6. Electrical Issues

Your truck battery (or multiple batteries depending on the size of your rig) is essential to the parts that keep your truck moving. You’ll notice issues when lights are flickering, when there’s clicking coming from the ignition, or when the vehicle isn’t starting. Any issues to your alternator, batteries, or cables may be the cause. It’s recommended you take your truck to a mechanic or technician to determine if you need a battery replacement or if there may be something wrong with an individual electrical part.

7. Lights and Wipers

Driving through harsh conditions and long routes, your lights and wipers will degrade over time after heavy use. However, this should be an easy fix. Make sure your lights are in working order before journeys so they can safely maintain your visibility while driving at night or through inclement weather. Double check all the bulbs in your brake lights and turn signals. Over time, you will have to get your lights either readjusted or replaced. When you notice streaks on your windshield, it’s an indicator that it’s time to change out your wipers and check your windshield wiper fluid.

8. Clutch Problems

For trucks with manual transmissions, the clutch may experience problems when it’s improperly used or overloaded, or when your truck has an oil leak. If you’re having any problems with your clutch, check your towing weight capacity and make sure you’re not overloading. Prevent your clutch from malfunctioning by always practicing correct driving habits with your vehicle. Ensure you’re shifting to the right gears as you drive, depending on the weight, speed, and road conditions.

9. Refrigeration System Malfunctioning

For new and used reefer trucks, drivers can monitor their truck’s refrigeration system for any problems that may prevent the truck from keeping the trailer’s freezing temperatures for shipments. Always monitor gauges in the cab of the truck to make sure they’re getting an accurate reading. Keep up with regular maintenance with the reefer and check your owner’s manual for the vehicle to see that all of its components are working.

As a reminder, have a certified inspector perform an official inspection of your vehicle annually to make sure it’s in working order. Keep up with regular maintenance to tackle any problems that may cause more serious issues in the future. And if you’re ready to purchase a new or used commercial vehicle, be sure to see the nation’s largest inventory on CommercialTruckTrader.com and our sister site NextTruckOnline.com.

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Ryan Miller
Ryan Miller

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32 Responses

  1. Thanks for discussing some common truck problems issues from the ignition or the lighting system. I would you should hope for specialized mechanics that can fix these wiring problems properly. I wonder if I can also find accessories like a bed cover for my own truck.

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