Why Periodic U-Joint and Water Pump Replacements Are So Important For Fleets
Regular maintenance is an important part of managing a fleet. When you hear “regular maintenance”, you may think of oil changes, tire changes, and other basic jobs. There are actually other components that should see regular inspections and maintenance. These parts include u-joints and water pumps.
You could wait until the u-joints and/or water pump fail to replace them. But it’s so much less headache to swap them out at regular intervals. When it comes to u-joints and water pumps, preventative maintenance will save you a lot of money. The reason behind this is simple. Emergency u-joint and water pump repairs are quite expensive.
How Often Should I Replace The Water Pump And U-Joints?
A water pump should last about 100K miles. So it would be a good idea to replace the water pumps on your vehicles before they hit the 100K mile mark. You may want to start thinking about replacing your water pumps as soon as they hit 90K miles. The sooner you replace them, the less likely you’ll have to deal with a truck unexpectedly out of service for repairs.
It’s worth mentioning that you should replace the timing belt along with the water pump. This article outlines the reasons why.
U-joints usually last 100k miles, and sometimes much longer. But they can fail due to a variety of factors, including:
- Heavy towing
- Lots of stop and go driving
- Driveshaft misalignment
- Excessive driveshaft vibration
So it would be wise to have the u-joints inspected on a regular basis. You can have them inspected at every oil change or every other oil change. U-joints that have grease fittings should also be filled with fresh grease during these checks to ensure proper bearing lubrication. Whatever your interval is, make sure that it’s more than twice a year. Sometimes a driver will notice symptoms of a bad u-joint. If you find any issues with the u-joints on your vehicles, have them replaced as soon as possible.
The Expenses Involved In Surprise U-Joint Or Water Pump Repairs
Unexpected U-joint and water pump failures result in costly mechanical repairs. But first, let’s talk about the extra expenses that go along with a breakdown on the road. These expenses can add up to as much or more than the actual repair. Here’s a partial list:
- Another driver to go out to the vehicle, pick up the load, and then complete the delivery
- Late delivery penalties or refunds
- A last minute hotel room for your driver, if the breakdown happens out of town
In addition to the extra expenses, you’ve also got to pay for the repair. It’s worth keeping in mind that when one part completely fails, often other damage occurs.
U-Joint Failure Repair Expenses
A u-joint may be a small and inexpensive part, but it can cause a lot of damage if it fails. When a u-joint fails, the following things could happen:
- Leaking transmission (perhaps resulting in complete transmission failure)
- Ruined pinion seal
- Leaking differential
- Damaged ring and pinion assembly
- Damaged output shaft or pinion bearings
- Broken driveshaft
- Serious collision due to loss of power and control
Water Pump Failure Repair Expenses
When the water pump fails, the engine overheats. If the driver doesn’t notice soon enough, that can lead to more engine damage. Potentially, you’re looking at:
- Cracked cylinder head(s)
- Blown head gasket(s)
- Cylinder liner damage
One Emergency Repair Costs More Than Several Sets Of U-Joints And/Or Water Pumps
Obviously, breakdowns on the road result in a lot of expenses in addition to just replacing the parts that failed. Preventative u-joint and water pump maintenance is key to saving a lot of money on repairs. It also saves a lot of headaches and fire drills. A good way to save money in the long run is to stock up on replacement u-joints and water pumps for your vehicles.