When Willie Nelson sings the following, he describes exactly how I feel about trucking when everything runs smoothly.
"On the road again
Goin' places that I've never been
Seein' things that I may never see again
And I can't wait to get on the road again"
Now, anyone in the trucking industry knows that things very rarely run smoothly. I was just starting to feel optimistic about the weather turning around, and then Mother Nature had to throw her surprise Spring snow storms into the mix.
I took a few days off of work and figured we should be proactive and get some truck maintenance done while I was off. With my last Pete 389, I asked to have the DPF cleaned while I was on vacation because it was in and around the mark that they recommend it get cleaned. The powers that be decided if it wasn't acting up, why waste the money cleaning it? But wouldn't you know it….the very first trip back after my time off, the filter plugged! The truck was down for a week. By no means am I a fortune teller, or in this case, a misfortune teller, but I had a feeling this was going to happen. I don't know if anyone else feels this way, but from time to time, I get this weird feeling in the pit of my stomach like I just know I'm going to have truck issues. I guess it's kind of like your body. You're with it all of the time, so when something seems a bit off, you can feel it. Whether it be a creak here, a clunk there, or a mild hesitation, you just know your truck isn't performing at 100%.
The shop was great this time, and they sent the DPF in to get cleaned while I was off. They knew my frustrations from the last go-round and were not going to let that happen again. It was a good thing the filter went in because it turned out that it had a crack in it, so they replaced it under warranty. Maybe just a little more fortune-telling on my part again. A valve set was also done, and they replaced the EGR valve.
Once I got back into the truck after all these repairs, I felt again that something was going to happen. Like it was too much work done on the truck all at once, something is bound to happen. Sure enough, on the first trip out, the check engine and wrench light came on about a mile from the Rothsay Truck Stop. I start to lose power, and the truck starts running rough. I made it to Peterbilt in Alexandria, MN, and they replaced the EGR pressure sensor. In the meantime, I had to switch loads with one of our teams so they could proceed to Virginia, and when my truck was fixed, I'd head back to the yard.
I made the trip home in one piece and decided to take a Grand Forks, ND, rounder to fill up the rest of the week. Sure enough, the check engine lights came on again. I was empty and headed home this time, so I didn't notice the lack of power as I did with a full load. Back into our shop we go! Peterbilt came to work on the truck, and two days later, I was on my way again. Then, the craziest thing happened - the check engine and wrench light came on again one mile from the Rothsay Truck Stop for the second week in a row. I was starting to think that the exact spot was jinxed. Finally, the wrench light went out, so I figured I might as well keep going, and I continued down the road. From that day on, and for the rest of the trip to Indianapolis and back, I had to pull over on the shoulder once per day to do a forty-minute parked regen. I'll tell you, when that warming comes on, it doesn't give you time to get safely to the next truck stop, rest area, or off-ramp. You need to pull over ASAP! And it always happens in the most inopportune places. It was the most inconvenient thing.
I finished the trip and made it home again in one piece. It's frustrating not to know why the truck is acting up. When the mechanics hook up the computer to check codes, it all seems vague. There doesn't appear to be any exact corrective action but more so just trial and error.
Back at our shop following this Indianapolis trip, our mechanics finally found the cause of all these issues. From what I understand, they cleaned a plugged port on the EGR system that leads to the EGR differential pressure sensor, but honestly, it's all gibberish to me.
I've since made a trip to Florida and, knock on wood, everything has been running great! Being down here where the weather has been sunny with little rain and temperatures keeping around 30 degrees Celsius has been good for my mind and body. I told my dispatcher that if she couldn't find me a load until next week, I wouldn't even feel bad about it. I know of a truck show at Wildwood, FL, so I'm sure I could keep myself entertained.