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.
The first reason is straightforward, and plays a role more often than you would think: it’s simply a matter of quality. If you walk into a parts section of an automotive store, you’re going to find many more options than you ever thought, for almost any part on a vehicle that can be replaced – brakes included. And while competition for your hard earned dollars is good, you may find a wide range of prices waiting – and, unless you have a lot of money to burn, you’re likely to lean towards something on the cheaper side. While these cheaper brake pads/shoes will work, they may not work as well as something more expensive, because they are often produced or manufactured for as cheaply as possible – which may be here at home, or may be far overseas. This means quality control may not be effective, the component parts may be tainted or sub-par to begin with, or they may just get damaged during a long trip across an ocean. Our advice? Buy the cheapest brake pads at your own risk, because you’re likely to be paying again if they fail early.
The second reason that brakes have to be checked every year now is that the latest criteria of inspections for the Commercial Vehicle Inspection Program (CVIP) has changed. Inspections of years past included a cam rotation, lining thickness measurements, and push rod traveling, from which we could pinpoint the drum wear, even though we usually visually inspected the brakes through the hole in the backing plate. We only pulled drums if physical damage or the measurements indicated that we had to check for a defect in the wheel.
Now, though, CVIP standards say we must pull the brakes every year on various makes and models of equipment, in order to verify things like pad/shoe condition, drum wear, heat dissipation, and cracking to within one inch of the drum lip. As you can imagine, this causes us to replace many more brake parts, because the visual inspection is much more thorough.
As with any of these new regulations, it can be tough to stay on top of it all when you’ve got everything else in your job to worry about. That’s why it makes sense to leave it to the pros – especially the ones whose specialty is preventative maintenance and who are dedicated to keeping your rig running, operational, and compliant before the major problems appear. West Tech Mobile is that shop – and we look forward to helping you get the most out of your heavy equipment, trucks, and other heavy-duty vehicles in Calgary!
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.
Starting in 2008, the California government began mandating that trucks had to systematically upgrade their engines and equipment, and install new tech in order to increase aerodynamics and lessen friction – at the truckers’ own cost, naturally. While such modifications may end up saving money in the long run, and are not a bad idea in theory, it is a lot of money to invest up front into a fleet of vehicles all at once. From 2012 to 2020, all trucks have to periodically swap out older parts for newer ones that would meet the ever-higher standards from the government.
One of the biggest changes, though, was the mandatory installation of diesel particulate filters. These after-market filters scrub out some particulates from the exhaust vents of the engine, keeping the worst of the soot pollutants out of the air – but they can be very expensive (into the thousands of dollars), unmodifiable (once it’s on, it cannot legally be removed or tampered with), and if not properly maintained can hamper the performance of your vehicle. Again, this is not a bad policy per se – but just this step, retrofitting a fleet with these devices, can rack up six-figure price tags.
Which brings us to the main point: starting next year, any truck built before 2010 that does not have an upgraded engine – yes, the whole engine – will be denied registration in California. And not only that, as technology changes over time, this consistent upgrade will be an ongoing process that doesn’t stop, costing truck owners time, money, and stress every year for the foreseeable future.
We’re not against environmental regulations here at West Tech Mobile, but we are against a system that unduly punishes the hardworking truck drivers and equipment operators that make our economy run. Just when it seems like they’re catching up to the “way things are”, that way changes and they have to shell out again to avoid costly fines and penalties.
The onus should be on the governing body to do the research into this technology they’re introducing, and making sure that it’s long-lasting enough to make the transitions and installations worth the effort. Beyond that, it seems unfair to pin the entire cost on the industry – since their whole business model depends on being able to drive their trucks, and they have literally no choice but to pay up or go out of business. Framed that way, it doesn’t seem like a very helpful move, does it?
So you know what West Tech thinks – but what do you think? Are regulatory bodies like the ones in California overstepping their bounds and costing truck drivers thousands in unnecessary costs? Or is all of this a step in the right direction for the industry, with no alternative way to subsidize the rising prices of being a trucker? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
2018 Canadian Positive Air Shutoff System Regulations
Big trucks can mean big business – and with that can come some intense regulations that helps keep the drivers and the public safe. As technology gets better and more capable, regulations can change from year to year, and it’s in everyone’s best interest to keep up with the latest laws and equipment requirements.
As of January 12, 2018, new government regulations will come into effect regarding the presence and use of positive air shutdown systems in diesel engines. While these systems are already mostly in place for trucks that come into contact with atmospheric gaseous hydrocarbons, many of them are still either manually activated, or automatically reset after they have been used. The new rules target this specifically: only trucks and equipment that may come into contact with hazardous gaseous hydrocarbons will be required to have positive air shutdown systems, and furthermore, they must automatically activate in the event of an engine runaway and remain on until they are manually reset. All Class 2 & 3 chemical haulers must be equipped with RPM controlled manual reset positive air shutoff systems.
If you drive a unit with a diesel engine and work in an industry that has exposure to airborne hydrocarbons – like at a refinery, an oil rig or well, or a power plant - then these new regulations will affect you! Even if you don’t drive one of these vehicles yourself, you are likely in close proximity to them on these potentially hazardous job sites. These changes will help ensure that you, and everyone else at work, is safe while doing their job.
If you already have a positive air shutdown system in place, make sure to get it inspected and serviced regularly as part of your pre-trip checklist – and especially before you use your unit to transport hazardous and combustible materials. It’s much better to find the problem before it threatens your equipment and your life. If you don’t have one of the January 2018 compliant positive air shutoff systems already, you’ve found the right place!
At West Tech Mobile, we are COR-certified, which means we do everything to the highest standard of work. And when it comes to installing positive air shutdown systems in Calgary, we know how important it is to get it done flawlessly. We have an excellent relationship with an outstanding Alberta company, Headwind Solutions, which manufactures some of the best and most reliable systems you can find. We use their flagship product, the Shocker P.A.S.S., and we rest easy knowing that our customers are staying safe while they’re working to keep Alberta’s economy going – and we’re helping, since the systems are manufactured, built, assembled, and sold right here in Alberta. It’s always a bonus when we can help support our local community and the people of this great province.
So don’t be caught out in the cold this January! Book your diesel truck or equipment in for a positive air shutdown system installation at West Tech Mobile, and avoid government fines or unnecessary danger. If you can’t make it to our shop – well, that’s no problem, since we have a fleet of fully-equipped service trucks that will come to you! And if you have a system already, bring it in for inspection to make sure it’s up to the standards you’ll need next year. After all, since we’re COR-certified, we live up to the best safety and health standards you can find, and it shows! Get in touch today to avoid the big rush that’s sure to come in January. We are conveniently located at #22, 5555 51 Ave SE in Calgary, Alberta, or you can reach us by phone at 403-265-5699. We look forward to making you a repeat customer!
New requirement for automatic engine air intake shut-off devices on diesel engines (7.1 (j))CSA B621-14 requires automatic engine air intake shut-off devices on diesel engines used during loading or off loading. These devices are important in preventing engine runaway in case of exposure to flammable vapours that could lead to catastrophic engine failure which could provide the ignition source for a fire and/or explosion.