Google's Most Frequently Asked "Why Do Semi Trucks..." Questions
Here at West Tech Mobile, we get asked a lot of questions about the vehicles we work on – everything from heavy industrial rigs to semi trucks and tractor-trailers. And we’re always more than happy to answer them! Since they are the most common, we decided to put our responses to some of Google's most frequently asked questions about semis all here in one place, for easy reference. Read on if you’ve been wondering these for yourself.
Why do semi trucks use diesel?
Mostly, it comes down to horsepower, as diesel engines create more horsepower than gasoline ones. Also, in the past, diesel was cheaper than gas, so it became popular as a more cost-effective alternative. And one more big reason is that truck drivers, who are constantly guiding top-heavy vehicles – and large tanks full of fuel – know that in the event of a rollover, diesel isn’t nearly as combustible as gasoline. If you’re always hauling large volumes of it in a tank underneath you, that makes a big difference.
Why do semi trucks drive in the middle lane?
It’s for safety. The truckers do it so that they have two options to quickly exit the lane if they have to. If they’re in an outside lane, their options are to swerve into the middle lane, or to hit the ditch – and both of those are basically guaranteed to cause further accidents and rollovers. Truck drivers have to be more aware of escape routes, because their vehicles take so much longer to stop than a car does.
Why do semi trucks have spikes on their tires?
This is actually a really common question. Sometimes, people are asking about the metal spikes on the wheel rims themselves – in which case, the answer varies, but it’s usually because the driver has personalized the truck to look like that. It’s their home away from home for long periods of time, so many drivers take pride in adding a bit of flair and personality to the truck, including the wheels.
Other times, people are asking about spikes on the rubber part of the tires, and those would be tire chains. They increase traction in snow and icy conditions, and sometimes even muddy terrain. It’s one more measure to ensure a huge truck doesn’t go out of control when the weather is less than ideal.
Why do semi trucks honk at me?
Contrary to what you might think, this isn’t usually because a young kid was doing the “honk” motion with their arm. More often, it’s because you are about to do, or have already done, something that could get you seriously injured! Semis, especially when fully loaded, are very heavy, and take hundreds of metres to stop when they are highway speed. If you cut one off, drift too close, or do another unsafe manoeuvre, this is the way for the truck driver to get your attention. Keep your eyes open, be alert, and prepare for an impact in a worst-case situation!
Why do semi trucks get weighed?
Most often, it’s to ensure that the load they are carrying is distributed evenly across all the axles. Each of the tires is only rated for a certain amount of weight, so piling up too much in one area of the trailer can result in a loss of control on the trailer and subsequently, the whole vehicle. It could even cause a blowout, in extreme cases.
Another reason is that the weight affects the road. Too much weight on the axles, repeated hundreds of times a day for years, can damage the road surface by creating ruts or unevenly wearing the pavement.
And finally, some structures, like bridges and exit ramps, can only handle up to a certain weight at once. Weak embankments, shallow asphalt, and other material considerations have to be made around the road, too. That’s why it’s important for trucks to know how much they are hauling, in addition to their total size.
Why do semi trucks make loud noises?
Usually this question is referring to the squealing air release that happens when a truck stops at an intersection, or at the bottom of a hill.
The main air brakes are designed so that even if their operational system fails, their default position is to lock up and stop the truck. This is different from smaller car brakes, that need a mechanical force (like stomping on the brake pedal) to operate.
There are also engine retarder brakes, which heavy vehicles use when going down hills to reduce the friction on the brake system and prevent overheating during those times of continuous use. These are generally prohibited from use inside of city limits, though. Since the trucks are so large, there are many failsafes put in place to ensure runaway vehicles are extremely rare – the trade-off is that they are a bit noisier!
We hope this answered some of your FAQs about semi trucks. And if you have more that you need answered, or you’re a driver that has a heavy-duty vehicle in need of some expert TLC, we’re always ready to help at West Tech Mobile!
3 Common Reasons Why Your Webasto Thermo Top C is Failing
A Webasto Thermo Top C is a high-tech (and highly welcomed) engine warmer that fits into your fuel line and keeps your engine from freezing up – all without having to idle the engine itself. As with any technology, it’s amazing when it works, but there are a lot of components and sometimes they fail for what seems like no reason.
We see a lot of these Webastos at West Tech Mobile, and some of the reasons for failure are far more common than others. Here are the top three that we see again and again in the course of our work.
1. You only use the Webasto when it’s cold out.
During the summer months, it’s easy to forget about the entire Webasto system in the engine, and you may go 100+ days without using it. If you’re not already aware – this is a big issue! The Webasto Thermo Top C is designed to be run at least once every thirty days, so you should be in the habit of starting it up and letting it run far more frequently than that. In fact, the warranty can be voided if you go longer than a month without doing so – so it’s absolutely in your best interest to stay on top of this.
So why does this occur? If the Webasto sits for weeks at a time, the mesh screen begins to get a build-up of carbonates and other minerals. The chambers get filled with hard carbon, and that won’t be removed without taking the whole mechanism apart to clean it. If you try to claim a warranty replacement or repair, and the company sees that build-up, it’s a surefire indicator that the proper usage schedule hasn’t been followed and they won’t cover the cost. It definitely pays to know about this before it’s too late.
2. Insufficient fuel supply.
If the standpipe of the Webasto is improperly installed, or cut too short, you could easily run into problems with enough fuel being fed into the device. Your fuel gauge may say you have ¼ tank, but if the Webasto’s intake pipe isn’t long enough to reach that amount, you’re going to run dry, and the results will be less than ideal – this will cause your Thermo Top C to fail, and may even cause long-term damage to the device.
3. Coolant bypass.
A Webasto Thermo Top C is a complex piece of equipment, and sometimes even the smallest details can cause major headaches. In many cases, there are two small O-rings in the exhaust compartment that are prone to hardening, leaving gaps, and eventually allowing leakage. We’ve often seen that coolant escapes and makes its way into the exhaust area. The presence of other materials causes the coolant to solidify, creating a gummy residue that coats everything and eventually prevents the Webasto from performing the way it’s supposed to. A prime example of this phenomenon can be seen in our instructional video, where we take the whole device apart and identify the problem.
If you have a Webasto engine warmer – or if you’re thinking about getting one – it can be a game-changer in cold climates like the one we have here in Calgary, or all around Alberta. But being aware of what they require, how they run, and what is expected of you as an owner will make sure that you get as much out of the device as you can, over many years to come. And should you ever find yourself with a Webasto that doesn’t want to start anymore, we’re always ready to help you out at West Tech Mobile!
What Is The Tesla Semi All About?
If science fiction shows and movies from decades ago were to be believed, by 2020 we’d all have jetpacks, butler robots, and autonomous cars that flew us from place to place. And, while many of those wilder fantasies are still just that, the world is getting closer to futuristic vehicle technology that looks like it’s part of a sci-fi novel of its own.
A big player on this stage is the company Tesla, run by eccentric billionaire (and previous driver of the first car in space) Elon Musk. While their electric cars, like the Tesla 2 and 3, have been around for years, the company made waves in November when they announced the forthcoming release of their pickup, the blocky-looking Cybertruck. But a lot of people don’t realize that years before that, Tesla was in the news for a different truck on their list, which is due to arrive by the end of this year. Have you ever heard of the Tesla Semi?
10 Heavy Truck Diagnostics Terms You Should Know
There are hundreds of millions of drivers around the world, and all of them have vehicles that need maintenance from time to time. But there are far less mechanics than there are drivers, so unfortunately, the majority of drivers have a high likelihood of encountering a problem at some point that they can’t identify or explain.
“It wiggles, you know? Really fast, when I go fast.”
“There’s kind of a, I don’t know, chongakongakonk sound. Is that bad?”
“It feels like the tires are loud, and when I try to turn, there’s a…a shriek?”
Why Does My Truck Need Brake Checks Every Year Now?
If you’ve been driving a truck or other heavy vehicles for a long time, you may remember a time when inspections weren’t quite as strict or stringent as they are now. One of the big shifts that happened recently regards the upkeep of brake systems, with new standards requiring a schedule of maintenance at least once a year. There are a few reasons for this, but today we’re just going to talk about two of them.
10 Tips For Dealing With Mechanics
Have you ever wondered what you can do to make your mechanic’s day better? Or how you can be the best customer they’ve had all month? The truth is, a lot of people have some bad habits when it comes to their mechanics, and while these habits certainly won’t affect the quality of the work performed, they will take a toll on the person doing it. If you want to be a favourite client, here are ten helpful tips to remember the next time you roll into a garage.
Why Do Semi Trucks Use Air Brakes?
It’s a sound you hear all over any major city and on highways everywhere: the unmistakeable hiss of air coming off of a big rig as it rolls to a stop next to you. But have you ever wondered: why do semi trucks use air brakes? Why can’t they use hydraulic brakes like smaller cars?
It all comes down to reliability and availability of resources. In general, the heavier the vehicle, the more likely it is to use air brakes. Hydraulic fluid for small car brake lines needs to be filled at a shop and maintained manually, while air is everywhere, ready to be used in any truck braking system. But that’s just one reason why they’re common in the industry.
Calgary Food Trucks Service
Over the last few years, a new craze has popped up in cities all over North America – the food truck. Once just a hallmark of places like New York and Los Angeles, the food truck phenomenon has now spread to every corner of the continent, including right here in Calgary.
Food trucks are the ultimate win for a sole proprietor that loves the business: portable, efficient, and on a small scale, they can quickly be moved to a new location as needed. But what happens when the “truck” part of the business starts to show more than the “food” side?
Benefits of Mobile Truck Service
In the modern age of tight deadlines and the necessary efficiency, it isn’t always easy to take time out of your schedule to keep up with the maintenance on your heavy equipment. Aside from being needed on the job site, they can also be inconvenient or simply too large to move. As a result, if they get pushed too hard for too long, they may stop working altogether and break down on the site, or become unsafe to operate on highways or city streets. It could be costly to tow, or to spend weeks waiting for repairs that cost valuable productivity. What can be done to prevent this?
Avoiding Department Of Transportation Fines With Our Spring Special!
It looks like warm weather has finally returned, and as the old saying goes, that means it’s time for our second-longest Canadian season: construction! Trucks, rollers, pavers, cranes, and all kinds of other vehicles will be out in force in the coming months, working hard and doing what they do best.
But many of those vehicles have been sitting idle for several months, as the cold weather really blasted Calgary this year. That means all the hoses, pipes, and connections could have suffered damage over that time, and even the quality of the fluids inside the tanks and reservoirs could be reduced. And having a vehicle with multiple issues isn’t the kind of spring start you likely envisioned.
DEFs and California Truck Regulations
There’s a misconception that being a trucker is easy – that you just get comfy and drive around in the sunshine, with your favourite music playing and the wide open road ahead. And while it has moments like that, it’s still a job. A job that’s done in all conditions, rain or shine, with long stretches away from home and your family. A job with rules, laws, safety protocols, and plenty of paperwork that follows you everywhere you go.
Government regulation of the trucking industry varies across provinces and states, with some being stricter than others on things like maintenance, scheduling, and emission standards. California is well known for being among the strictest places in North America when it comes to these laws, and has been for many years.
On-site Truck And Equipment Inspections
The trucks, tractor-trailers and other heavy equipment with which we work have the potential to cause some major damage if they malfunction while moving – and that’s why there’s a rigorous set of inspections that need to be followed and kept current for them. But not all inspections are born equal, and today we’re going to talk about some of the different types, especially the Commercial Vehicle Inspection Program (CVIP), and where they can be performed.
Let’s start with preventative maintenance. Don’t be fooled – while we believe this is just as necessary as any mandatory inspections, it doesn’t officially count as one. These “in-between” inspections can be done either on-site or in our shop, and will help you get the most efficiency, life, and safety out of your engine and other components. They are not, however, meant to replace the strict procedures of official inspections at regular intervals.
How You Can Keep Your Cab Temperature Livable Without Idling Your Truck.
In recent years, a new trend of anti-idling laws has cropped up in many places around the world, and Alberta could be next in line. These laws are meant to reduce waste and emissions from vehicles that are idling for long periods of time – affecting everything from long-haul trucks at rest stops to the huge cargo ships waiting in a port. The laws are for a good reason, but they often fail to account for the reason why the vehicles are idling in the first place: the weather outside can be extreme, and it’s often quite literally unsafe to be in a vehicle without heating or cooling for several hours.
Winter Stopping Components
We’ve already had a few blasts of winter weather here in Calgary, and as the season goes on, there’s bound to be days where you can’t avoid hitting the roads, even when they’re covered in ice. Modern vehicles have all kinds of safety systems built in to help you keep control on slick surfaces – but they rely on proper maintenance and upkeep in order to work their best and do what they’re meant to.
One of these systems is traction control, which is a real-time analysis of how your wheels are moving and whether they are getting any traction on road surfaces. The computers send power back and forth from one wheel to another to try and maximize friction and grip along the road surface, leaving you with (hopefully) better chances of not ending up stuck in a snowbank, or skidding out on the side of the road. Your heads-up display (HUD) on the dashboard should have lights or other indicators to show that the system is working, when your wheels are spinning on gravel, ice, dirt, etc. – and if not, then you know there’s an issue somewhere along the line.
Fifth Wheel Safety and Maintenance
If you’re a truck driver or a heavy equipment operator – or even if you’re just someone who loves to camp! – then chances are good that you’re familiar with fifth-wheel configurations. These setups, in which a trailer is hooked into the tractor or semi by a “kingpin” held in place in the centre of a disc or other mechanism, are very common and can be seen all over the roads you travel.
There are many different kinds of fifth-wheel connectors. Aside from the common vertical pin type that you’ll likely see on semis and tractor-trailers, there are also pintle hitches, which use a hook and a ring to allow greater flexibility on rough terrain; gooseneck hitches, which are used in pickup truck beds to pull campers and horse trailers; ball hitches, which usually attach to the back end of a truck for a variety of towing needs, and low-mount car-haulers – kind of like miniature flatbeds. With so much variation in style and capability, it’s easy for some telltale signs of danger or incorrect weight distribution to go unnoticed. And that means bad news!