Truck back down, at home on vacation again.

Mike

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Thread starter #1
Gotta say, I am experiencing the ultimate frustration of owning a truck the past few months. Not posting this to whine or complain about anything, merely to share an experience so people know what to expect in this business.

This all started at the beginning of April. What started out suddenly feeling like a bad injector ended up showing itself to be a couple leaking cups. Upon further inspection, the problem went deeper in the form of a blown head gasket. Most of this has been documented in various threads on the forum here.

In the end, after 5 1/2 weeks, I was back on the road pulling my first load.

Something wasn't right. After a couple days, truck would run really bad at an idle. Over time, this seemed to get a little better, but never back to normal. For this problem, I am feeling like some trash got into the fuel pump and simply is never going to pass through. It's an intermittent problem. Lack of fuel restriction through the filter, in my opinion, is pointing toward a pressure problem with the pump, or even remotely possible that it is some trash that found it's way through the fuel lines to the back of the head. Thinking it's probably the fuel pump, though.

Nothing good ever comes from one of these trucks sitting for 6 weeks.

Beyond that issue, all seemed well with the actual repair for two solid weeks. The truck never lost a drop of coolant, engine temperature was perfect.

Last Monday, however, things changed on a 500 mile trip out to Grand Island, NE. Arriving in York, NE (Petro) that evening, I did my daily check under the hood and immediately notice coolant had blown out the overflow. Truck never got hot, not even a little bit. Had a gallon of coolant, put it in, and it was full enough to run with. (Petro had no decent coolant on the shelves). Made my delivery, back to York, and stopped at Sapp Bros. They had coolant. Grabbed a couple gallons and topped off the truck. Took another half gallon after the initial gallon to fill it up.

And the end of the day, it was a tad low again, added less than a half gallon and it was good.

Next day, by the end of the day, coolant was pretty low again. Added over a gallon. Same thing happened the following day, with the coolant loss getting slightly worse as time went on.

Truck ran fine, and was never getting hot. Just coolant mysteriously disappearing.

Parked Thursday evening, filled the coolant, and looked everywhere I could. Checked all hoses by hand for temp, all hoses were hot, so no obvious signs of any line blockage. Checked the air tanks and purge valve for any sign of coolant that would indicate a air compressor problem, nothing there. At that point, I was figuring it had to be head related again.

Friday morning, drove a couple miles from the truck stop to make delivery. I had just topped off the coolant before leaving. After arriving at the third warehouse, which was finally the right spot to unload. I was walking out to the truck so receiver could break the seal, and seen smoke in the air. Ran to the truck, and sure enough, it was coming out of my exhaust. At that point, no sense in looking around for a coolant leak anymore.........

A couple of tests later, not sign of combustion in the coolant tank, but it's obvious where we need to go to find the problem again.

Today, the head should be off, and in the morning, I should be loading it into my pickup and taking it to Tulsa. A local shop went through the head the first time, it won't be going back there. Everything else will be checked thoroughly. Really hoping that the problem is revealed when reworking the head.

For those keeping score at home. Currently looking at over 6 weeks of downtime, on top of a $4300.00 bill for the first repair. Providing nothing else shows up beyond the head, looking at another week once time is allowed for delivering the head, getting it worked, and getting it picked back up so things can go back together. I'm personally delivering the head to and from the shop in Tulsa merely for saving time.

My my calculations, I'm down about $40k at this point in lost profit and repair costs. Meanwhile, all the costs of providing for a family of 5 still exist, as does the truck and trailer payment.

Good money to be made out here, but it is important to steadily put money back into the business. Things like the above are going to happen, and your business needs to be prepared for it. During all these weeks out of work, a paycheck still had to be deposited into our personal account to pay for the cost of living. During the two weeks I did work, money had to go out for fuel costs. When I get back on the road, after paying whatever I have to pay additionally in repair costs, there will be weekly expenses such as fuel again that money has to be there for. Money for groceries, car payment, house, as well as everything that a house full of kids need.

When you are getting into this business, see this as what may happen, before you begin to accept a cheap rate and think you are making a profit simply because there is money left over after fuel expenses and you pay your personal bills.

When the truck goes down, your business needs to have money to pay the costs of repairs, continue to pay the fixed costs, continue to pay your salary, and still have money in the reserves to pay for expenses at the point you start back running again. Because remember, when the truck does get fixed, unless you give up some of your money to be paid immediately, it will be 30 days before the checks start arriving from the brokers.
 
#2
For those keeping score at home. Currently looking at over 6 weeks of downtime, on top of a $4300.00 bill for the first repair.

My my calculations, I'm down about $40k at this point in lost profit and repair costs. Meanwhile, all the costs of providing for a family of 5 still exist, as does the truck and trailer payment.
Do you “invoice” your company for lost revenue? I don’t know how else to ask that....I know what you’re saying, the truck could’ve been earning, instead of being in the shop

What kind of money would you recommend be set aside? I’m not asking for personal specifics, just an opinion on suggested savings

Good luck getting back rolling.
 

ironpony

Professional Pot-Stirrer
Supporter
#3
Do you “invoice” your company for lost revenue? I don’t know how else to ask that....I know what you’re saying, the truck could’ve been earning, instead of being in the shop

What kind of money would you recommend be set aside? I’m not asking for personal specifics, just an opinion on suggested savings

Good luck getting back rolling.
Brilliant. Invoice yourself for lost revenue.

Hey Mike! Is Maria going to pay up?

:rolllaugh3:
 

InTooDeep

Well-Known Member
#4
You said "Nothing good ever comes from one of these trucks sitting for 6 weeks." That is why I was asking what should I do to try to improve my chances were that when I parked for 6-8 weeks for surgery that would help. I actually started running part time after 3 weeks so all was good. Sorry for your problems and all bad things make us stronger.
 

oldhippietommy

Well-Known Member
#5
Mike,you sure have had your share of problems.

My truck is 13 years old,1.4 million and I have sunk several thousand (more like 3000) in it lately doing service,brakes,starter etc but I am lucky enough to keep rolling during it all


I also set back 3 months (bills) of money as a prudent reserve to carry the company.
My past experience is it can get gone in a hurry.I`ve had it happen during the recession,acutally setting back 6 months for payments,usual trucking bills would be very good
 

ironpony

Professional Pot-Stirrer
Supporter
#6
Yeah, sorry to hear this as well. My '09 is over 1 million, and I've had my share of troubles. I probably put $20,000 into it in '16. That's why I financed my trailer... to keep a healthy slug of cash available for the inevitable troubles. Good luck man.
 

Mike

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Thread starter #7
Do you “invoice” your company for lost revenue? I don’t know how else to ask that....I know what you’re saying, the truck could’ve been earning, instead of being in the shop

What kind of money would you recommend be set aside? I’m not asking for personal specifics, just an opinion on suggested savings

Good luck getting back rolling.
I am my own company, so the loss is merely a loss.
 

InTooDeep

Well-Known Member
#8
When I bought my truck I opened "The truck" account with 100K with the plan of using only those funds. Replace it as it drops down but if it runs out well then I'm out.
 

dave350

Well-Known Member
#9
Sorry to hear about this Mike. I had similar experiences with mine and it is frustrating to no end sometimes. I hope it all works out for ya.

With what I’m doing now I have an old pick up if my van goes down and if they both go down (yeah it happened once :biggrin-2:) I can hop in Sandy’s car and generate income but it’s hard to have a spare big truck.


When you are getting into this business, see this as what may happen, before you begin to accept a cheap rate and think you are making a profit simply because there is money left over after fuel expenses and you pay your personal bills.
^^^^^^ well said^^^^^^

This will probably give me flash backs tonite though. Sandy says I still wake her up in the middle of the night shouting “THATS A RIDICULOUS RATE!!!!” :biggrin-2:
 

dchawk81

Well-Known Member
#10
Think I'm just gonna get disposable day cabs. The entire truck is cheaper than an inframe.
 

mndriver

curmudgeon extraordinare
Supporter
#11
When you are getting into this business, see this as what may happen, before you begin to accept a cheap rate and think you are making a profit simply because there is money left over after fuel expenses and you pay your personal bills.

When the truck goes down, your business needs to have money to pay the costs of repairs, continue to pay the fixed costs, continue to pay your salary, and still have money in the reserves to pay for expenses at the point you start back running again. Because remember, when the truck does get fixed, unless you give up some of your money to be paid immediately, it will be 30 days before the checks start arriving from the brokers.
Don't mix business and personal finance.

As a person, you should always have 3 months living expenses and available to you regardless if you are a W-2 employee or a 1099 or self-employed.

What happens if you have a heart attack? Motorcycle accident? You need to be able to cover your expenses regardless. Or you'll be homeless.


Being self-employed though just means you have to plan that same contingency but focus on strictly business survival. Part of that should be on replacement of capital equipment or structure. At any given time, one line item should be strictly for equipment replacement. Doesn't mean having 100% of the cost of equipment,. But at least have the means to pay for finance options if need be.

Personally, that is my biggest reason for not having a new truck. It's bad enough when a truck goes down to have to pay for a repair, but to have to continue to make the vehicle payment hurts just as much.

That payment, while palatable when times are good, might destroy you when times aren't.
 

Hammer166

Instigateur №166™
Supporter
#12
5 1/2 weeks. That's insanity. I realize that's more common than not, but it's still nuts!
 

ironpony

Professional Pot-Stirrer
Supporter
#13
5 1/2 weeks. That's insanity. I realize that's more common than not, but it's still nuts!
No kiddin'!

Wasn't this whole exercise about the proposition that a glider would be more reliable than a new emissions truck?
 

Mike

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Thread starter #14
5 1/2 weeks. That's insanity. I realize that's more common than not, but it's still nuts!
No kiddin'!

Wasn't this whole exercise about the proposition that a glider would be more reliable than a new emissions truck?
The 5 1/2 week repair was anything but 5 1/2 weeks of working on the truck.

The failures in the engine was 2 injector cups, and a blown head gasket. Very premature for this to happen to an engine, but as I researched, not all that uncommon with Fitzgerald engines. Two weeks would have been an acceptable time for the diagnosis and repair, lots went on during this time that I will get into later. Bottom line, $5k and two weeks, and I should have been back on the road with no issues.

At this point, we are either dealing with a failed gasket due to the gasket being flawed, something during the assembly process, or something missed during diagnosis by either the mechanic, or by the shop that was checking the head.

5 1/2 weeks is now becoming likely 7 weeks, because it is the same problem as before.
 

oldhippietommy

Well-Known Member
#16
recently a trucker friend stopped by a shop near his house.They had one of those Fitzgerald gliders in there tearing into the motor

it had 1800 miles on it
I think I will stay away from those guys if i ever get into the market for a glider
 

Mike

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Thread starter #17
It totally sucks dude.
Very true, but it is what it is.

And, thanks to my wife and her money management, we were totally prepared for this.

Believe it or not, I am actually getting signed up for Uber. Next time something like this happens, I will have something that I can do in the mean time besides sitting around the house. It's very difficult to sit still at home when you are used to constantly working or going somewhere.

The breakdown was really no big deal. Had things went as they should, $5k and two weeks of downtime over the course of 3 years of operation is nothing. Did I hope for a 1 Million+ miles before any major engine repairs? Yes.

The reality, and some may think I am crazy, but had I read into the future about what was going to be found once the engine was diagnosed, I would have simply dropped it off for a complete rebuild. Why? because in my mind, given the repair that has had to take place, I am looking at a year or two of operation before getting an inframe done anyhow. May go longer, but that is just what I see coming in my future, and the next thing I will be planning for. Given a head gasket failure, I am simply anticipating an earlier than expected end of life on the engine. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.
 

Mike

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Thread starter #18
This breakdown altered my future plans.

Over the past year, I was looking at potentially paying this truck off way early, then running the truck until it reached the point of needed an inframe. At that point, buying a new truck.

Now, plans have changed to something more sensible. Still plan on getting the truck paid off early, but when it reaches time for a rebuild, it will be a couple week vacation while the engine is rebuilt, and back on the road. I will be in this truck until business capital is built up to the point where I can simply write a check for my next truck. Only thing that would change that is if this truck was to become a massive maintenance liability to the point where it just makes more sense to get into another truck.

In a nutshell, I am not planning on financing my next truck or trailer.
 

Sinister

Order of The Gilded Flip Flop
Staff member
Supporter
#20
Would renting a tractor help offset the revenue loss?

Tractor rental can be very expensive and may be a bad idea but I’ve had bosses do it before...
 
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