Troubleshooting Common Engine Problems for Your Semi-Truck

Troubleshooting Common Engine Problems for Your Semi-Truck

Just like normal pedestrian cars, semi-trucks can suffer from common engine problems. However, given the many moving parts inside of a semi-truck, it can be tough to pinpoint the cause of the problem if you’re not familiar with the telling signs. This guide will help you with troubleshooting common engine problems for your semi-truck. By knowing the signs to look for, you can find and address the cause of the issue in an efficient manner.


If the engine in your semi is overheating, the first thing to look for is obstructions that could potentially be blocking the airflow to the radiator. Obstructions that can do this include ice, dirt, and bugs—all of which you should promptly remove. If the engine is clear of any obstructions, take a closer look at components like the engine fan, belts, as well as the truck tires, axles, and brakes to ensure everything is working smoothly. If your tires are dragging or your axles aren’t properly rolling, this may be why your engine is overheating.

However, the cause of the engine overheating could be the weather if you’re driving on a particularly hot day. In situations like this, consider turning off your air conditioning while driving on steep gradients, as well as gearing down, to keep the engine at a comfortable temperature. Furthermore, to ensure the engine stays cool while you’re on the road, make sure coolant/oil levels are sufficient at all times.


Another common engine problem is smoke emitting from under the hood. Use the color of the smoke as an indicator of the problem. If the smoke is white, then the problem is most likely either with the engine timing or the engine compression. If the smoke is black, you may have to clean the air filters to fix the issue. Black smoke can also be an indicator of problems with the injectors or cylinder heads. The third type of smoke semi-truckers may encounter is blue smoke, which can begin emitting due to the piston rings, valves, or cylinders suffering from wear-and-tear.

Refusing to Start

If your semi-truck isn’t starting, take a look at the fuel supply and check for signs of contamination. In some cases, the issue could be as simple as replacing the fuel filters. If that’s not the issue, take a look at the fuel lines and fuel pump and search them for signs of damage. Another reason a semi-truck won’t start is due to a weak connection between the batteries and the starter. If the connections between the two components are intact, inspect the starter motor for any signs of visible damage. Worst case scenario is that none of these are the problem and you’ll have to take the semi into a professional and have them look at the ECM (electronic control module) or the injectors to identify the problem.

Although troubleshooting common engine problems for your semi-truck should be easier thanks to this list, you shouldn’t forget to take special precautions when buying parts for repairs or replacements afterward. If you’re driving a Volvo semi-truck, then you’ll obviously need Volvo semi-truck parts to help with those repairs/replacements correctly. If you have the right parts for your semi-truck and a solid understanding of how the vehicle works inside and out, you can promptly address technical difficulties whenever they arise during your hauls.

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