Know When Not To Trust Technicians

I am a new OTR driver with Prime, and I enjoy being on on the road. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some nice drivers, and I’ve heard many stories about technicians not doing quality work or blaming drivers for maintenance issues. I didn’t believe the stories, until…

On May 9, 2013 I was routed to drop a load at Prime’s main terminal in Sprimgfield, MO. There were more then a few things my truck needed work on. So, with the help of my road assist, I made the necessary appointments.

The first appointment was with an APU shop. The technician listen to me, and then went to work. He did a great job repairing my APU, he tested all of his work, and even had his forum check the work.

Around 11pm, I moved my truck to a tractor repair shop. The technician assigned to the job was also training a new technician. The first item of business was my right steer – it was leaking oil. The technician removed the chrome moon cover and there was a large amount of oil trapped there. Without looking at it any further, he said that the cover had trapped the oil, and that it was not cleaned when his associate changed the seal back in April. Weeks later, I learned that his diagnosis was wrong; the oil was coming from the cover and that the cap had a small crack. This was confirmed, and the cracked cap was replaced with a new one at the Petro shop where they actually took the wheel off.

The tech then started talking to me about my breaks squeaking  He blamed that on the environments I was driving in (dirt lots etc). Eventually, I had enough with the technician – because he was not listening, and he kept interrupting me. I told him that he was the technician, and that if he says my breaks were good – then so be it, but that he needed to keep in mind that I am out there hauling very heavy loads, and when I go down 5%/6% grades – I need to know my breaks will be there. After that, I went back in the truck.

Shortly after, he talked to me about an old note concerning me having problems starting the truck. I showed him that it takes a couple pushes on the clutch. He said that it was the clutch switch, and that he could change it since it was under warranty – plus, it would be good for the trainee. I said ok, if they wanted to. He changed it, and sent me out.

On the 11th, I left the terminal with a very heavy load – headed to Mississippi. My fleet manager had advised me that the load needed to be there ASAP. I headed down 65s and something just wasn’t right, I was using way too much break. I just didn’t understand what was wrong… Then I started smelling my breaks, and having to really work to keep the truck slowed down on the downhill grades. After checking further, I came to realize that my engine break was not working. Roadside assist had me check some things myself, and reset the computer. I had to stop several more times to cool my breaks down.

When I reached 40 I was worn out out – so I decided to use my cruise, but it didn’t work. Roadside assist said that it had to be the clutch switch. – What?? It couldn’t be, it was changed 2 days ago!

I took my truck to a Freightliner and learned that computer thought that the clutch was engaged. The technician changed it, test drove the truck, and hooked the computer back up to my truck prior to sending me back out.

The Prime technician did not do his job, and put my life in danger! Prime managements only response, was to say that the tech won’t be training anymore. I have requested that I receive a break credit and to have my breaks checked. I also wanted the technician to apologize for placing me in danger and to receive compensation for the 2 days I was down at Freightliner. – They are ignoring my request and are trying to make me feel that I am fault.

To all my fellow drivers, new to the industry or not – confirm that the work has been completely done, tested, and checked by another technician. Also remember to test the work yourself prior to hooking up to load.

If you are a Prime driver – do not expect management to have your back. It’s sad, since we are the ones out here away from our families, trying to scratch out a living, and we are the reason they have an income.

Hope this helps.. Be careful out there drivers!