A new truck story!!
As unfortunate as having a major breakdown is, I have to admit that getting a new truck is actually quite fun. And… as fun as getting a new truck is, I have to admit that the break in period can be a little sketch. Here’s what happened:
I moved all my crap into the new truck, enjoying the “new truck” smell, a dash with no dust on it, no hairballs clumped anywhere on the floor (which would be of my own hair, of course), and all the cabinet latches were still attached and in working order. Oh, wait. I lied. There was one latch that popped off right away (it’s funny because those things gave me so much trouble in my last truck). So yeah, this was a *really* new truck. It’s a 2019 Volvo VNL 860 and had less than 1500 miles on it when I jumped in and turned the key for the first time. Aww, yeah. Fun.
But then I went on my first run in this new truck, with that doggone bad-luck cloud still hanging over my head. I grabbed an empty trailer and drove 28 miles to my pick up. After getting loaded I turned out of the driveway to leave and my steering wheel made an unsettling scraping sound, and by the time I pulled into the truck stop where I planned to scale my load, it had gotten worse. I opened the hood and checked my steering fluid. Dry. As a bone. I made it back to the Volvo dealership where they discovered a cracked fitting that all that fluid leaked out of. They replaced it and I was on my way in a half an hour. I made it 50 miles before needing a new part! But whew! It as a quick, easy fix.
The rest of that day went great, and I was enjoying getting used to the smooth ride and all the new features in the truck – aka new safety features with alarms that were set on high volume and scared the bejeezus out of me when they went off. I delivered my load, got reloaded and found a quiet little spot to park for the night. I even took a couple photos of my new ride.
Now it was Saturday and I was about 50 miles from home where I was to drop this trailer, hook to a loaded one and make my way to Virginia. I was cruising right along in my new, sweet ride, feeling cool, listening to music, chillin’ out, and
I think I jumped 3 feet out of my seat! Something let loose under my truck and it was LOUD! My right turn signal was flashing and I was making my way to the shoulder before the air guage for my primary air tank totally bottomed out. The secondary tank quickly followed, but held at about 60 psi while I came to a stop and pulled the brakes on my own (the brakes will set on their own if you lose all your air too fast, which means your tires lock up, and that’s a scary thing I hope never, ever happens to me! This was too close!). I was shaking, so I first glanced in my mirrors to make sure nothing needed to be attended to right that second (i.e. fire or something of the sort) and then I just rested my hands on the steering wheel and took some deep breaths. I got out of the truck and could hear air leaking – badly – from somewhere.
I knew this wasn’t going to be a quick situation, so the next thing I did was dig out my damn safety triangles – again – and get them set up behind me (I believe the law states we need to have them up within 10 minutes of breakdown). And then I began to look at everything. It wasn’t a tire. Everything looked right under the hood. Air compressor was still there and doing its thing. Brake drums all appeared to be intact. The air leaking was coming from underneath the truck, kind of under the driver’s seat.
We have these air tanks that sit under the driver’s seat, and we can access them through a side fairing below the driver’s-side door. They have little nozzles that we can turn to release moisture out of the air tanks, which is done on a regular basis, so I’m pretty familiar with them. My first thought was maybe one of those spun loose, but all of them were tight and no air was leaking out of them. I couldn’t see anywhere else and getting underneath the truck wasn’t possible with its low clearance – and being parked on the side of a busy highway didn’t make me feel safe even trying.
I started the phone calls. It was a Saturday, of course, so after hours dispatch was on duty. I also tried calling Volvo a few times, and our maintenance guy (whom I’m getting to know well lately!). I was between all these calls when I phoned a friend who’s been driving a lot longer than me. He walked me through some things to check – I wanted to be sure it wasn’t something really stupid because it sounded like they were going to send out a tow truck, and I’d have felt horrible if it was as easy as reconnecting a hose or something. Then another Midwest Carriers driver pulled up in front of me in his personal vehicle – he was driving by, saw me broke down and was checking to see if I needed help. I did! He looked all over and couldn’t see anything, either. Same thing as me – he couldn’t get a view of where the leak was coming from. So he went on his way while I waited for the tow truck (thanks for stopping, George! You’re awesome!).
As soon as the tow truck lifted the front end of my truck up, I got down on the ground and peeked underneath. I saw it immediately. An air hose about the diameter of a quarter had popped off the back of one of those three air tanks I was describing earlier. The tow truck driver crawled under and said it looked like something on it had cracked, too, so it wouldn’t have been something that could’ve been fixed roadside anyway. So I felt a little better about the whole tow thing.
So… I got a ride back to the same temp truck I was in when my last truck died. I threw the basic essentials in as quickly as I could and took off to continue my run for the week. On Monday I found out that the air line was fixed and the truck was ready for me again. I couldn’t wait to get settled back in, but I first had to finish my week. Thankfully the rest of it went pretty smooth.
So now I’m a few days into a new run in the new truck, and so far, so good. Well, this morning the button for my tractor brake popped off after I backed into a dock, which startled me for a second, but then I laughed. It just screwed back on. It wasn’t like it broke or anything. Man, new truck things!
I hope that cloud is gone. And I’m really liking this truck, even though there’s a few things I’m still getting used to. One of them is sleeping on the top bunk! The bottom bed converts into a table, which I love, but I know that if I change it back to a bed, put sheets on it and sleep in it, I’m not going to want to switch it around twice every day. So I’m leaving the table set up and trying to use the top bunk to sleep. But it needs a better mattress. That’s for sure.
So there ya’ have it. Adventures in trucking. With a new truck. I hope to move many, many miles in Venus de Volvo!
Tonight I love my kettlebell. Swinging that thing helps with stress!