Rattles And Pops

Paying your equipment off is a great feeling that lasts about as long as it takes for you to start hearing rattles coming from the engine compartment.  There is a great cost breakdown comparison of maintenance costs versus a new truck payment and that comparison doesn't take into account the diligent owner/operator that faithfully completes maintenance on a regular basis. 

In fact, if you take care of your equipment from the time you buy it, it will outlast any prediction that a new truck beats a used truck.  Sure maintenance costs will go up once the truck is paid off, but those maintenance costs are deductible just like the truck payment was, although not really as likely to depreciate as a piece of equipment will, but there are tax strategies allowed by the government to help you run a business without having to buy new equipment.

Once the truck passes the 700,000 mile mark, things start to rattle.  The steering column, the transmission mounts, the U-Joints, etc. and your obligation to yourself once you venture past 700,000 miles is to be vigilant about maintenance.  Every little wobble, rattle, or pop, needs to be found and fixed as soon as possible.  Nothing should be left up to the procrastination Gods. It will cost you more money to let something go, than to fix it, even though constantly chasing rattles isn't as fun as it sounds, you will thank yourself once you find them.

I liken chasing maintenance problems with Whack-A-Mole.  The trick is that if you let too many things start to fail, they will get out of hand.  There is an old adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" and that adage can work, and it can get you in trouble.  With age, comes experience, and my experience is that sometimes you have to let a problem become worse until the source shows itself.  Sometimes the problem isn't easy to find and can be a frustrating waste of time.  It becomes a skill to know what to address immediately and what to let slide.

Another strategy is to "throw parts" at a problem.  Many times I will go to a shop and just tell them to skip the diagnosis and replace a series of parts that I believe are failing.  I start with the cheapest solution first and work my way up.  Lets say for example that you suspect some overheating in the engine.  The first thing I would do, if it hasn't been done in awhile is change the thermostats.  At $20 each this is cheap.  While I'm having the thermostats changed, I'm looking at the coolant.  Maybe it's time to change that as well.  If the engine continues to overheat, perhaps I'm looking at a head gasket for $50.  The last straw would be a cracked head.  But before I threw $10,000 at a head replacement, I want to go through all of the cheaper solutions first. I say cheaper, I mean less expensive, not less quality.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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