The focus of the 2022 International Roadcheck, from May 17-19, is wheel ends. If your truck isn’t already ready for inspection, NOW is the time to prepare!
What Is International Roadcheck?
Each year, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) announces the dates of the International Roadcheck. The International Roadcheck is a 72-hour high-visibility, high-volume commercial motor vehicle inspection and enforcement initiative.
The focus of inspections vary each year, and for 2022, the focus is on wheel ends.
During this special check, inspectors will examine your truck, driver documentation, and credentials. If a violation is found, the inspector will restrict the driver or vehicle from traveling again until the violations are addressed.
For those that pass an inspection, they’ll recieve a CVSA decal. Plus, if you have a decal, you won’t be re-inspected during the three months while that decal is valid.
“We want every vehicle on our roadways to be in proper working order for the safety of the driver operating that vehicle and everyone traveling on our roadways,” said CVSA President Capt. John Broers with the South Dakota Highway Patrol (CVSA).
Why Wheel Ends?
Wheel ends are critical for braking and support the heavy loads we carry. You always want to ensure your wheel ends are safe, and the International Roadcheck is a good reminder to ensure you are not in violation.
Wheel end component violations historically account for about 25% of the vehicle out-of-service violations discovered during International Roadcheck. Wheel end issues are also a top 10 vehicle violation.
What Inspectors Will Look For
During inspection of wheel ends on a commercial motor vehicle, inspectors will:
Check for cracks or unseated locking rings, studs or clamps.
Check for bent, cracked or broken rims on the inside and outside wheel rims.
Check for loose, broken, missing or damaged wheel fasteners and elongated stud holes.
Check spoke wheels for cracks across spokes and in the web area or slippage in the clamp areas.
Check the hub for lubricant leaks, missing caps or plugs.
Check the inner wheel seal for leaks.
Check the tire and valve stem for leaks.
Check for proper inflation, cuts and bulges on all tires, including the inside tire on a dual set.
Check for regrooved tires on steering axle.
Check tread wear and measure major tread groove depth. Inspect the sidewall for improper repairs, such as tire plugs.
Check for exposed fabric or cord.
Check for tire contact with any part of the vehicle.
Check for markings on the tire that would exclude its use on a steering axle.
Check for debris between the tires.
Check for tires touching one another or any part of the vehicle.
We’re Here to Help
Here at Freight X, we have a shop, FX Truck Center, that can help you get inspection ready. If you’re ever in the Ocala, Florida area, please be sure to stop by and see our new, state-of-the-art facility.
As an owner operator, you want to partner with and work for the best trucking company in the industry – your livelihood (and sanity) depends on it!
The problem? A trucking company can promise the world during orientation, but following through once you’re on the road is key.
We believe there are 9 things any trucking company should provide in order to truly call themselves the best company to work for as an owner operator.
1) Great Lanes
What good is a great freight rate if you end up in an area that is difficult to get out of or the rates are on the low end? There went the profit on that great load in sitting and waiting on a load or taking a cheap load just to get moving.
Freight X has dedicated customers and dedicated lanes to ensure that does not happen. We pride ourselves on the relationships with our customers that keep you moving. Plus, dedicated lanes optimize your earnings as well as your home time.
2) Home Time
Yes, you make your money while you’re on the road, but you still need some quality home time!
Ensure that the company you’re interested in will get you home when you want it. Here at Freight X, we are extremely respectful of our drivers’ wishes. We’ll get you home when you want it, we’ll only run you in areas you’re comfortable with, and we’ll work with you to get the loads you want to run.
Don’t just take our word for it! Alcindo M., an Owner Operator with us since 2012 says, “Running dedicated and enjoy the consistent freight. Home time is great.”
Get a weekly settlement you can count on. Plus, there’s no need for a factoring company. We handle all of the payroll so you can get 74% of the line haul and 100% of the fuel surcharge – every time.
4) Fuel Discounts
Our company saves tens of thousands of dollars every month because of our fuel discount. We don’t pay the fuel price you see on the sign – we have a negotiated fuel discount with Pilot/Flying J, a national average of 58 cents per gallon.
If you’re an owner operator and run approximately 100,000 miles per year, you’d enjoy roughly $12,000 in fuel savings per year with Freight X.
5) Back-Office Support
We file your IFTA, supply your ELD device, handle your trailer usage, set up a prepass account (only $7.50 per week plus tolls), and monitor your driver’s license to ensure you’re always ready to run.
Any great trucking company for owner operators will handle all the back-office work so you can stay on the road.
6) Dedicated Customer Freight
We’re very proud to have tons of customer fright.
When trucking companies rely heavily on broker freight, you’ll make a ton of money when the market’s hot, and you’ll be running for pennies on the dollar when the market dips.
Our customer freight is stable. It takes out the market swings and gives our owner ops a sense of reliability.
7) Discounted, Quality Maintenance
Your truck is the key to earning income, providing for your family, and getting essential goods delivered across our country. You don’t want it getting worked on by just any mechanic, and you don’t want it taking any longer than it has to.
Our mechanics are next-level. We’re able to recruit the top talent in central Florida thanks to our state-of-the-art truck center, competitive pay packages, family atmosphere, and last but not least, our rare, air-conditioned and heated shop.
Have confidence that your truck is getting red carpet treatment by some of the most talented diesel mechanics around.
Plus, we pay our mechanics hourly instead of piece rate, ensuring our goals are aligned with yours. All of us want to get your truck back on the road as quickly as possible.
Our owner ops get access to discounts that make it a no-brainer to work with us.
All companies charge for everything. Not all companies are forthcoming about those charges. Freight X is as transparent as a window. We are going to tell you everything. We hide nothing. And we pride ourselves in that fact. No one wants to spend any more than they have to, but it’s always better to know what your expenses are than to be surprised on your settlement sheet.
9) Open-Door Policy
Ever walked in the front door of your company only to be told by the receptionist to go to the driver window and your DM will talk to you there? I am sure you felt disrespected and not a valued member of the team.
Freight X has no driver window. We have a door – a door that is unlocked, and you are welcome to walk through to see anyone you need to. Operations, safety, payroll, and recruiting are always there for you.
Or, just stop in and say hello! We do not exist without you. You deserve the respect you have earned, and at Freight X, you get it.
10) Approachable Staff
At Freight X, we maintain that small, family-owned company feel. When you call us, you’ll be greeted by your name, not a number.
That’s what you want in a trucking company – you want approachable staff that’s kind and personable.
So, what’s the best owner operator company to work for?
We believe it’s a company that has great lanes, offers consistent home time, handles your payroll, passes on great fuel discounts, does all the back-office work so you can stay on the road, provides dedicated customer freight, gives you discounted maintenance, is transparent, has an open-door policy, and approachable staff.
That’s a lot of boxes to check!
Here at Freight X, we offer best-in-class software, great customer relationships, a shop with incredibly skilled mechanics, and so much more. We believe we are the best owner operator company to work for!
This year, the Pride and Polish event is all virtual, and Overdrive Magazine is still taking entries for the 2021 photo competition. You can enter your photos by June 3 (no fees to enter!).
What is Overdrive?
Overdrive was launched in September 1961 by Mike Parkhurst. He was its vocal editor and publisher until its sale to its current owner, Randall Publishing Co. (now Randall-Reilly), in 1986.
During the 25 years he published Overdrive, Parkhurst championed the rights of owner operators to work freely amid a complex web of Teamster pressures and over-regulation.
Throughout its early history, Overdrive called for protests over fuel prices and anti-trucking legislation. Those conflicts, notably during the late 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s, eventually led to deregulation in the early 1990s and today’s climate in which the self-employed contractor can operate with much greater independence.
Today’s trucking industry owes a lot to Overdrive!
What is Pride and Polish?
Pride and Polish events, produced by Overdrive Magazine, are the gold standard of truck shows. They provide an opportunity for camaraderie amongst drivers and their families in the trucking industry.
Pride and polish launched in 1990 at MATS in Louisville, KY. In 1999, Pride and Polish was added to GATS in Dallas, TX. Pride and Polish is open to company drivers and owner operators.
This year, due to the cancellation of in-person events, the GATS Pride and Polish show will be held virtually.
Coolant systems are notorious for causing leaks, because the coolant fluid travels to a lot of different places – the after-treatment system, the heating system, and the engine.
Coolant actually runs all the way to the back of your cab. There’s basically coolant from the nose to the end of the sleeper.
If it leaks anywhere, it’s all the same coolant system, so anywhere that has a leak in that system is going to cause you problems. Some areas are easier to get to while others can pose a challenge.
When you’re on the side of the road, the last thing you want to be dealing with is a coolant leak. Believe me – we get it. On-the-road service is overpriced and time-consuming, and while learning to fix it yourself can take a little practice, we’re here to help.
What Is the Function of a Truck’s Coolant System?
Your truck’s coolant system is a closed system that exists to keep the engine cool and running at optimum temperatures. It also keeps other components of your truck cool, mainly the after-treatment system. (That’s not technically part of your engine – it’s your exhaust, so to speak. The after-treatment “treats” the exhaust that’s leaving your engine.)
Coolant is also used to heat the interior of your cab. When you turn on your heater and hot air blows out, you can thank your coolant system.
Different Kinds of Coolant
There are at least 2 different kinds of coolant. They’re green and red, and they both smell about the same. They’re good for different temperature ranges.
In your car, you probably use green antifreeze. For our trucks, we only use the red coolant. Just about everyone now uses red coolant with semi trucks. We say this to let you know that when you’re looking for a coolant leak, it could potentially be green or red.
Note: It’s very important that you never mix red and green coolant! If your coolant reservoir has red coolant, do not add green coolant and vice versa.
How Coolant Is Sold
Coolant is sold as “pre-mixed” or as concentrate. There may be different levels of concentrate, but the one that we buy for our trucks is a 50/50 mix. For every gallon of the concentrate, you put in one gallon of water.
Tip: If you’re running low on coolant, and you’re just trying to get to a safe place, you don’t want to fill your reservoir with straight concentrate. You have to add water as well!
Preventing Coolant System Issues
Let’s say you don’t have any leaks, and there are no coolant system issues – you’d think you’re golden, right?
Well, not exactly.
Coolant breaks down over time, and it’s recommended you replace it just like you would oil in your car. The difference is that oil gets dirty, and coolant actually breaks down. That just means that coolant doesn’t have the same properties that it once did, rendering it less effective as time goes by.
You should definitely change your coolant at least once a year. Coolant is like oil – it breaks down and loses its alkaline level over time.
Staying Safe When Fixing a Coolant System Leak
As always, staying safe is the most important thing, so safety tips first!
Here are a few tips to make sure you don’t get hurt when addressing a coolant system leak:
Never open the system when it’s really hot. Wait until it cools down to a reading of 160 or 170 on the gauge.
When you open the cap, do it slowly. We recommend opening the cap a little bit, waiting to hear the air escape, and then opening it the rest of the way.
Wear eye protection. You really don’t want to get coolant in your eyes!
Take caution if the system is warm. Even if it’s not piping hot, it can be easy to get burnt. To be completely safe, you’ll want to leave your truck off for a while before attempting to go near the coolant system.
You should never put coolant in a container that had oil in it or vice versa. It could be late at night, and if you put oil in your coolant system… not good! Secondly, you can’t rinse out the jug enough to get all the fluid out. You do NOT want coolant in any part of your engine that’s supposed to have oil and vice versa.
How to Tell Your Coolant System Is Leaking
There are a few tried and true ways to confirm that your coolant system is the problem.
Many mechanics and drivers can tell right away by the smell of leaking coolant. It has a sweet, antifreeze scent that’s very potent and distinguishable.
If you can, consider actually smelling coolant so that if you ever do experience a leak, you’ll know right away where it’s coming from.
You can also look at your reservoir and see if your coolant is low.
You’ll also get a check engine light if the coolant system is overheating. The gauges will show you that things are running too hot. If the gauge is reading anywhere from 185-210+, you know there’s an issue, and you should pull over and stop the truck immediately.
If the truck keeps running, you’re risking damage to the engine or the Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) cooler, which is a part of the after-treatment system, and it costs a few thousand dollars to fix. As a side note, Cummins engine are great (they’re the only engines we buy), but in our experience, one of their most common failure points is the EGR cooler.
At this point, we have a number of ways to confirm that we have a coolant leak:
Smell of coolant
Low coolant reservoir
Check engine light is on
Gauge reading over 185
Once you’ve confirmed that it’s most likely a coolant leak, you want to look around the vehicle while it’s not running to identify where it’s leaking.
This is what you’re looking for when inspecting the truck for a coolant leak.
If you’re not able to find a leak, sometimes the pressure from the truck running can create enough pressure to cause the leak. First check with the truck off, and if that’s not successful, turn the truck back on and look around for that pesky leak.
You can also look under the hood to see if something is happening physically. This will come in the form of a broken belt or fan.
The most common reason for a coolant leak is the weather. If the truck is cold, it’s common for the coolant to be low.
Additionally, truck parts get old, and many drivers and mechanics just aren’t replacing the parts fast enough.
When you do look under the hood, pay special attention to the hoses.
You’re looking for 2 potential things:
A swollen hose
A dry, cracked hose
Take a look at hoses such as these. Are they swollen or dry and cracked on the surface?
If the hose is swollen in any way, it’s a sign that it’s failing or is going to fail. Additionally, the hose surface can become very dry or look cracked, which is a sign that it may be causing a leak.
Temporarily Fixing a Coolant System Leak
Let’s say you’re on the side of the interstate, or maybe you’re even 100 miles from home. Whatever the case may be, there are certain situations where you want to get to a safer place or make it home if you can.
In these situations, there is a temporary solution. However, this is NOT a long-term fix. This should only be done in order to help you get to a safe spot.
To temporarily fix a coolant system leak, you can get away with taping the problem area really thoroughly. It’ll slow the leak enough to where you can get somewhere safe. Please note that this is truly a temporary fix.
Some drivers will say, “It’s just a pinhole leak. I’ll tape it and be on my way!” Not the case. This should be used only in temporary situations.
Here’s why: the system is pressurized, so it’s not just going to drip slowly out of a small hole. It’s going to shoot out of that hole, because there’s pressure. For example, if you put a pinhole in your garden hose, it’s going to spray out of that hole because there’s pressure. So, a little pinhole is a bigger deal than it might seem.
To tape the hole temporarily, you can use duct tape, electrical tape, or a new product we’ve been using that’s a silicone tape. It’s pretty cool stuff – it looks similar to electrical tape but it’s a bit thinner. If you take it and wrap it around on itself and you stretch as you do it, it activates the tape. It ends up feeling like a piece of plastic. It’s the strangest thing, and it’s not very expensive. We bought 6 rolls for $20 or so.
Once you have the problem area taped really well, you need to address the lack of coolant in the reservoir.
Coolant is obviously the best thing for your truck, but with the lack of availability, you can put water into your coolant system in a pinch. It’s not good for the radiator long-term, because the water would be corrosive, but versus having no fluid and risking overheating, water is a much better option.
Let’s put it this way – if a driver said they were a few hundred miles away and they had a slow coolant leak, I’d recommend they add water to the coolant reservoir.
Tip: Always keep a few gallons of water or coolant in your truck!
Permanently Fixing a Coolant System Leak
Most of the time, it’s a hose that’s causing the leak. Permanently fixing the coolant system leak can be as simple as swapping out that hose.
The hard part, though, can be tracking down the hose you need.
Older trucks tend to have more universal hoses that are easier to find. Newer trucks often have custom hoses that are very specific, and they can be harder to find.
However, once you determine and purchase the hose you need for your truck, changing out the hose can be done pretty easily.
Get a screwdriver or a ratchet and socket to loosen the clamps on both sides of the hose. Remove the old hose and replace it with a new one. Finally, reinstall the clamps and coolant.
Once you’re comfortable with this process, you can change a hose on the side of the road.
What happens where there is air in the coolant system?
If the coolant keeps going low because of a leak, the entire coolant system can get aerated, which means there’s air trapped inside. This eventually ruins the pump and can cause overheating.
This can sound sort of confusing, so let’s take a brief moment to explain why air is such a problem inside your coolant system.
It all starts with the exhaust. The exhaust comes off the exhaust manifold, and it runs through what’s called an EGR cooler.
There are a bunch of “coils,” we’ll call them, that are in the EGR cooler, and the coolant runs around them. The exhaust goes through these coils, and the cools runs around them to cool the exhaust.
The coolant does a great job at cooling the exhaust down, but air? Air does a really bad job.
If there’s a lot of air in the coolant system, you’re not getting enough coolant through the EGR cooler. You’re getting partly air, partly coolant.
Things start getting hotter and hotter, and before long, the coils in the EGR cooler, which are soldered on at each end… well, they melt.
And when that melts, coolant starts leaking where it’s really not supposed to be.
Now you have this cooler that’s supposed to cool the exhaust, and instead of the coolant recirculating through the system, it’s leaking everywhere.
This causes two huge problems:
You’ll have a terrible coolant leak
It’ll ruin all those components of your after-treatment system, which are very expensive
You might also notice white smoke in this situation. No good!
If you’re on the road, there’s really only one thing you can do for a coolant system that has a lot of air in it.
Fill up the coolant reservoir with coolant fluid and leave the cap off. Let the engine run on the side of the road for a little bit and try to top it again with more fluid. Once you put the cap back on, run it again.
Ideally, you want to have a pressure test, but that’s not feasible to do on the side of the road.
We hope this helps if you have a coolant system issue while you’re on the side of the road!
If you’re interested in becoming a driver here at Freight X, let us know! We’d love to add you to our family of wonderfully dedicated drivers.
Running under your own authority might mean you have a higher income, but it also means you have more liability, more expenses, and more paperwork.
Just because you run under a trucking company’s authority doesn’t mean you lose all ability to choose when and where you run. It also doesn’t mean you give up the opportunity to make good money.
Here’s the honest truth about running under your own authority as an owner operator truck driver.
What Is Running Under Your Own Authority?
There are basically three ways to look at authorities:
You are entirely on your own – you truly run under your own authority. You’re responsible for everything, including billing, booking your own freight, paperwork, insurance, etc.
You run under your own authority beneath another trucking company. They take a smaller percentage of your load to cover billing and minimal support, but everything else is on you. You book your own loads.
You run under a trucking company’s authority, and they handle all the back-office tasks, including booking your loads.
If you’re considering being entirely on your own, we’re going to outline in this article what that actually means for you – is it really a good idea?
And if you’re considering running under your own authority beneath another trucking company, we’ll hit on that as well.
Freight X does not allow owner operators to run under their own authority beneath our company. All of our drivers run under our authority, which means they benefit from all of our back-office support, and we also book their loads.
Here’s why: if you got in a bad accident, we’d get pulled into the lawsuits anyway. They’d hit your line of coverage first, but they’d also come after us. That’s an incredible liability to us, so we avoid that by ensuring all of our drivers run under our authority.
Before you click off this article, it’s important to understand all of our drivers still choose when and where they run. That’s critical to understand! We’ll explain more later in this article, but we wanted to hit on the basics first.
Do You Really Make More Money?
If you want to run under your own authority, you basically want to be a trucking company. Sure, you’ll make 100% of your loads (minus a factoring fee or QuickPay fee, discussed later), but that doesn’t actually mean you’ll be making more money.
You’ll be a one-person show, which means you’re responsible for your own billing – you have to make sure you get paid for your loads.
You’ll need a factoring agreement, and the factoring company will most likely have you put down a bond. They’ll also want to hold cash reserves for you. In addition, factoring companies take up to 5%, and they won’t release funds to you until you have reached your reserve requirements.
Without a factoring agreement, you’d wait an average of 45 days to get paid.
So again, you will technically make more money, but a lot of drivers don’t realize what goes into the accounting side of things. When you run under a trucking company’s authority (such as Freight X), you’re paid every week – even when Freight X isn’t paid yet by the customer!
You don’t pay any percentage of your load to the factoring company, and you have great cash flow because you get settled every week.
Hidden Driver Expenses
The billing piece of running under your own authority is huge, but there are a lot of other hidden expenses drivers may not think about.
Subscriptions to DAT and Truckstop
Transportation Management Software ($$$!)
Dispatch and load planning services
Fueling location optimization based on routes
There are other perks you can get when you run under a trucking company’s authority, including:
More drop and hook opportunities
National recognition and reputation
Financial strength and excellent credit rating
Access to maintenance mechanics at a much lower rate
The economy of scale is what’s at play here – we have accounting staff, a safety department, and load planners with decades of experience. We can only do all of this financially because of how many trucks we run. We couldn’t do all of that if we only ran one truck.
Time Is Money
If you’re a solo driver running under your own authority, you have to consider that time is money. Are you going to set time aside to do all of your own paperwork and support your business? That time is going to take away from being on the road.
When you’re booking your own freight, accessing load boards costs you money, let alone sitting there and figuring out which loads you want to take.
Time is money, and you want to spend all of your working time on the road, spinning those wheels.
Insurance and Fuel
Insurance costs and fuel are your two largest expenses, whether you’re a trucking company like us or an owner operator.
Bulk Insurance Rates
Because of how many trucks we run, we can essentially buy insurance in “bulk.” Without a shadow of a doubt, our insurance rates are a lot better than you can get as an individual.
We also have a deductible buydown program for owner operators, so if you’re involved in an accident, your maximum out-of-pocket across all lines of coverage is $1,000. That buydown program costs $17 per week, and instead of exposing you to around $25,000 worth of deductibles, you’re only exposed to $1,000.
When you run under your own authority, an accident could put you out of business. You have personal liability, damage to the trailer, potential damage to the cargo – you basically hit three or four lines of coverage, and your deductibles will be $5,000 here, $10,000 there… you could be out $20,000-$30,000 from a single accident.
Most owner operators couldn’t withstand writing a check for $30,000. They’d be out of business.
When you run under a trucking company’s authority – especially one like us with a deductible buydown program – you don’t have to worry about losing your business because of an accident.
Our company saves tens of thousands of dollars every month because of our fuel discount. We don’t pay the fuel price you see on the sign – we have a negotiated fuel discount with Pilot/Flying J.
If you’re an owner operator and run approximately 100,000 miles per year, you’d enjoy roughly $12,000 in fuel savings per year with Freight X.
You can’t negotiate discounts like that if you’re running under your own authority.
Picking Your Own Loads
Picking your own loads seems to be a huge selling point for owner operators. They want to run under their own authority for the simple fact that they can decide where to run.
To put things simply, if you work for a company that allows you to book your own loads, I can almost guarantee you they have been freight guarded in the past, and you won’t have the opportunity to book with all the brokers out there. You’ll lose the chance to work with a lot of organizations because of that.
That’s precisely why we don’t allow drivers to choose their own loads. If you change your mind and decide you don’t want to pick up a load, it ruins our reputation. If we book the load and something unforeseen happens, we probably have the ability to get the load with another truck.
If you get several freight guards, brokers won’t book freight with you anymore.
However, all of our drivers get a say in the loads they want. You can explain to our dispatch and load planning team what states you like and what runs you prefer, and we’ll accommodate that. We aren’t like other companies that tell you the freight you run, and that’s it.
We are very accommodating to our drivers and will do everything we can to make sure you’re making money by taking the loads you want to take.
$4/Mile Isn’t Actually a Good Load!
Many drivers who don’t run freight day-in and day-out get excited when they see a $4 per mile load. They book it and realize after the fact why the load paid so much – there are no backhauls! You may have to accept a load for 85 cents just to get out of that area. Even worse, you may have to deadhead 400 miles to get a decent paying load back home.
Our experienced load planning team takes all of that into consideration. We know what areas are hot, and we don’t get suckered into booking high-paying loads that are really dead ends.
Customer Freight Is Stable
Finally, we have tons of customer fright. If you pick your own loads, you’re choosing from broker freight. Sure, right this moment, broker freight is hot. When it turns down, though, customer freight won’t.
Our customer freight is stable. It takes out the market swings and gives our drivers a sense of reliability.
When you run under your own authority, you forfeit protection, fuel discounts, fantastic insurance rates, and a weekly paycheck.
It’s tough to make money with only one truck. If it breaks down, it could be down for 2-3 weeks. How will you pay your mortgage? A blown tire could cause your profit to flip for the entire week.
Freight X can withstand that because we have 80-100 trucks. Before you get excited about big money associated with running under your own authority, it’s essential to understand the truth: it’s not all people make it out to be.
If you’re interested in being an owner operator at Freight X, be sure to get in touch. We’d also be happy to answer any questions you might have about running under your own authority.
Freight X, LLC is a transportation company with terminals in Georgia and Florida. We run freight of all kinds and have the capacity to run reefer or flatbed loads. We are always recruiting new drivers, so please contact us if you’re interested in joining the team.