29 September, 2010

Spoiled Truck Drivers

There's a driver who parks his rig at the shop I work at and I used to like the guy, but now I think he's going a little insane. He's not an owner/operator, but drives for a rather large company. His truck is a 2006 Kenworth T600 with a sleeper and he keeps it in excellent shape. He always does a pre-trip inspection and will have even the smallest problems taken care of immediately. Something you don't see many drivers do, especially company drivers. But the driver I'm writing about in this post has started to become a nuisance. He's had his truck in our shop three times complaining of a rough ride. He's asked us to "check out the shocks" two of those three times and the other time he was complaining about ride height (a leveling valve/air spring thing). Well, on a car the way to check shocks is push down on the hood to get the thing bouncing. After a few good shoves you let go and count how many times the car bounces and rebound. When shocks/struts are in good shape, you give one last shove and the car should go down, up and then settle to normal height. A little bit of jiggle after isn't a big deal. With a big truck you can't even get the suspension to budge simply by pushing on it. So, you look for leaking oil from the shocks, excessive rust, damage etc. The first time this driver asked us to check the shocks (I have no idea what he thinks "checking the shocks" entails) I gave it a visual inspection and drove the thing for about ten miles over all sorts of roads. The thing rides very well for a big truck. We put it back outside and then a week later it was back in the shop because they didn't like the way we "checked the shocks." Well how the fuck would you like me to "check" them? I was told to disconnect one end of each shock and move them by hand to see if there was still enough resistance! Can you fucking believe it? The steer axle shocks were easy enough as were the shocks on the rear drive axle, but ohhhh, the front drive axle was another story. I'm not going to explain it, but if you're familiar with Kenworth air suspensions, you know what the "elephant ears" are. Both the top and bottom shock mounts on the front drive axle are blocked. The top by the fifth wheel and the bottom by the elephant ears. No mechanic would willing remove the front drive shocks on a Kenworth for "testing" purposes. The only time they come off is when they're getting replaced. Anyway, I wasn't going to wrench the mounting nuts off because they were rusty lock nuts. Fuck that! I dropped the elephant ears so I could get an impact on the lower mounting nuts. All told, I had an hour and a half just "checking shocks." There was absolutely nothing wrong with them, of course. I then found out that we had put these shocks on and they only had around 200,000 miles on them. Sounds like a lot of miles, but it would be like a car only having 8,000 miles on its shocks. That's when I realized this driver will get it in his head that a particular part is causing whatever problem he thinks he's having. He then proceeds to have things, like shocks, checked and rechecked until everyone gets tired of hearing him complain and replaces whatever part he thinks is bad. We replaced the steer tires two weeks ago because he thought they were causing a rough ride. He said they were cupping pretty bad. I'll admit there was a couple of spots where ONE tire was cupping, but you couldn't see it. I had to run my hand over the tread to feel it, and I could barely tell even then. He complained and sure enough, new steer tires. It's not our truck, so as long as the driver's company keeps approving the work, we'll keep doing it. I found out last night that this company told the driver to get the tires from us because they wanted to see if they were actually in need of replacement. They weren't. They still had at least half of the tread left (about 10/32" at the last service. I know, I get stuck servicing the truck every time it needs a service.) Another example of this nutcase is from last winter. The week I was on call, of course. He called me early one Saturday morning (not a good way to start my day being a second-shifter and all) and said he saw some "mist" come out from under the hood. OK, valid complaint and I thought the truck might have a coolant leak. Off to the shop I went. Pressurized the cooling system and looked all over for leaks, but didn't find any. No spots on the ground, no dampness anywhere around the engine. Nothing! Told him he was imagining things and then I went home. That wasn't good enough. The truck ended up in the shop a few more times with complaints of "mist" and coolant leak. He parks in the same spot every day and there was no spots on the ground and, again, nothing seen under the hood. What happens last spring? He gets a new fucking radiator. Again, changing a radiator in a big truck is no small task and I, as usual, was the one stuck with the job. I used to go out of my way to help this guy because when someone takes care of their truck, I want to do my best for them. I've had enough with this guy though and I'm not going to go the extra mile any more. I hope his company cuts him off and stops all this unnecessary parts replacement. I'm interested to see what happens once he turns in those old steer tires.

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