A breakdown can occur at any time – you as the driver know best how time-consuming, and also how dangerous this can be. In 2017, the ADAC TruckService alone set out more than 40,000 times to recover trucks that had broken down – and that’s just one of a number of recovery services in Germany that deal with these problems. Here we show you the most common causes for breakdowns and how you can best prevent them.
The tyres are particularly at risk
You can get a flat tyre at any time of the year. If, for example, the tube inside the tyre is damaged by foreign objects that penetrated it, it quickly loses air under the weight of a heavy truck and has to be replaced immediately. Especially in summer, however, caution is advised. If the sun shines as long and hot from above as in the summer of 2018, the tarmac gets very hot. It transfers the heat to the tyres of the truck, whose rubber becomes soft and wears out more quickly. On these days, it is particularly important that you check the tyre pressure and adjust it if necessary, because an underinflated tyre can be dangerous. The tyres quickly overheat and can burst or even catch fire. If this happens to you, emergency braking won’t help – if you stop with a burning tyre, the fire can easily spread to the entire truck. It is better to brake the truck to walking speed with intermittent braking and continue to drive slowly and in a weaving pattern until you lose the burning tyre. You should definitely switch on the hazard warning lights! You should contact the fire service while you are still driving.
In order to avoid such a frightening and dangerous scenario, you should not only check the air pressure in the tyres, but also the tyres themselves before every trip. Cracks and other damage or a worn tread are indications that it is best to change the tyre.
There are monitoring systems for trucks that give you a warning if the pressure in one of the tyres drops. This will allow you to stop early and prevent a flat tyre causing you to get stuck on the motorway.
Cold saps the battery
Particularly in the cold season, breakdown services are frequently called out to help drivers with flat batteries. Old batteries in particular are often no longer able to cope with the high load due to the additional heating. It is therefore particularly important that you have your truck checked thoroughly before winter and have the battery replaced if necessary. Always have the battery terminal points and the trailer sockets checked! All this can be done at the same time as you change to winter tyres.
During the cold months, it is also important to have the truck cleaned regularly, as salt and dirt can otherwise cause major damage. In cold temperatures, you should still have sufficient frost protection in the brake system and in the windscreen wiper water. Also actuate the drain valves on the compressed air tanks so that they do not freeze.
If the engine weakens
You know best how important the regular servicing of your truck by specialists is. Nevertheless, it cannot do any harm if you yourself keep an eye on such components as the timing and V-belts, brakes and spark plugs. As soon as you notice on the road that the steering is strangely spongy, that there is an unusual shaking or vibration while driving, or that the driving noises become noticeably louder, you should stop and look for the fault or call a specialist.
Assistance from the ADAC
To prevent breakdowns it can help if your employer uses the breakdown prevention service of the ADAC TruckService. This offers the option of remote diagnosis and can, for example, indicate at an early stage that refrigeration units are failing. In this way, errors are not only detected at an early stage, but also expensive situations are prevented in which, for example, the entire freight is spoiled. At the same time, close monitoring prevents breakdowns by warning of necessary repairs or servicing at an early stage. This reduces your accident risk and ensures that you are less likely to end up in stressful situations where you don’t know what to do next.
Summary: Attention is everything
Breakdowns can happen to anyone, but you can minimise the likelihood that you will be affected. You should not only have your truck serviced regularly, but also make sure that it is maintained in the best possible way. Careful and anticipatory driving and increased attention to the vehicle ensure that in the event of a breakdown you and other road users are not harmed.