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How to get an HDT Serviced

Mr&Mrs Duet

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In my other post on this thread about purchasing a Truck conversion (dually chastised for calling it a Toterhome, :-) ), I noted it had a Volvo D13 engine and ishift trans. I went to the local Diesel shop to arrange a prebuy inspection. He said he could check the mechanical stuff, but he didn't think his equipment had the right interfaces for the Volvo electronics. Recommended I get a pre 2007 engine with no DPF/EGR problems. Said to call the Volvo dealer (located about 25 miles away) Basically felt like a run around.


I called the Volvo dealer, said I had a Motorcoach built on a Volvo Chassis, with a D13 engine and Volvo transmission. I wanted a pre-buy inspection done on the Engine, drive train, brakes etc. He told me they don't work on motorhomes. I restated all I wanted was an inspection on the TRUCK stuff. Since it was all Volvo equipment he could do that, correct. After more hemming and hawing he stated that he could probably do it, he just hadn't seen that kind of setup before.


So that's the background, here are the questions:


Where do you all go the get your rigs worked on?

(I have a feeling the communication with the Volvo dealer would have been a little different if I had just shown up in person and said it needs to be checked, he would have seen it's really Volvo truck with a fancy sleeper)


I also found a mobile mechanic willing to come out and do an inspection.

What kind of credentials should he have to be a diesel mechanic?


Is the Volvo D13 with DPF a reliable engine?

One of the reasons I like the Volvo is it seems to be very popular with the HDT crowd, and mated with the Volvo Trans, my wife loves the no clutch feature! I thought it seemed like a good choice. I'm tending to think the horror stories I find about bad engines are the noise of the few and most are ok.


Finally; Is there a "Haines or Chilton" style manual available for HDTs?

Something that will help a DIY style guy do basic preventative and light maintenance.


OK 1 More question: Recommendation for Oil samples, Engine, transmission, Differential, all of them, Engine only......?

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Once any of my vehicles (moving objects: cars, trucks, airplanes, trailers, etc.,etc.), which is most of them at any particular time, I'm a "keeper", I don't screw around with dealers, ever. I had my trucks, pickups, MDTs and HDTs worked on all over the country, while on the road. If I needed work done, or inspection done, in the old days it used to be the friendly local yellow pages and phone, these days it's the internet and the cell phone. Few years back,the Cummins in my Volvo needed "help". Wife got on the phone and within minutes found this shop in Michigan (30 miles away from where we were) http://dnshd.com/ They let us unhook the fifth, park in their yard and even provided us with water and electricity and went to work.





I ended dropping about $5 grands in that shop, they kept discovering other "issues" in that 850,000 miles engine, but they always let me see it first, gave me a choice whether I wanted to "take care of it or not", what it was going to cost, cheaper alternatives parts wise, etc, etc. We spent two weeks "camping" in their yard and they even gave us the keys to the shop "beater" if wee needed to go out, or go someplace. And I could at any time spend anytime looking over the mechanics shoulder working on my truck or anybody's else. Try to have that much latitude at any dealer's facility. The first thing out of their mouth is, "you can't go out there, liability".

You can find shops like that all over the country, I found them in Michigan, Kansas, Florida, New Hampshire, Utah, mid West, south West, literally all over during our 42 years of RVing.

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Other than routine (annual) maintenance, in 4 years I've had a total of 3 occasions where I've had work done on my truck. One was a pre-purchase inspection at the Volvo dealer--as far as I was concerned they were very thorough, though they didn't do some of the things you'll often see recommended (such as putting it on a dyno). Cost was somewhere in the neighborhood of $200. Next thing was an alternator replacement, done at a Freightliner dealer. None of the Volvo dealers within 200 miles had it in stock, but Freightliner had one that would work and could install it that evening. I think I pulled in around 7 and was on the road again before 9. Cost again was two hundred something. The last was a valve lash adjustment ("overhead" in big truck lingo) at a Cummins dealer in Georgia. I definitely avoid calling it a motorhome--if anything, I'll mention that it's long. A lot of shops, particularly Freightliner dealers (since a lot of normal motorhomes are built on Freightliner chassis), have significantly higher rates for motorhomes--if I had to put a number on it, I'd say about 30% more.


Credentials for mechanics is a tough one. There are some certifications that indicate a certain level of training, but all they really show is that someone could pass the test at the end of a class. Whether they can solve a real problem that wasn't spelled out in the course or isn't on a flow chart is anyone's guess. Having worked in the auto repair business at a specialty place that often got cars from other mechanics and a couple of local dealers) in a small town, I'd run into someone who swore they had the most honest mechanic. On one occasion, that mechanic sold a customer a new starter, alternator, and battery they didn't need because they couldn't figure out that they had a bad battery cable. Assuming you're not really tied in to the trucking crowd, it's not like you can ask your neighbor where he takes his truck. I'm sure others can chime in with what they look for.


The last question is a little loaded. You can get a lot of opinions here. If you want the I-shift, you're getting that engine with DPF or DPF and SCR. The DPF version is going to be a little less fuel efficient, but there's a lot less going on with the emissions system. For a lot of truckers, the horror stories are worsened by the fact that if the truck has a problem, they're not only out the cost of repairs (and potentially hotels) but losing income as well. If you had a truck down for a few weeks and spent $10K on repairs, for some that's practically a career-ender. But there's still stuff on the shelves at Wal-Mart, and the vast majority of these trucks are on the road not in the shop--and that's working a lot harder than an RV will ever see. If the truck you're looking at was factory built as a motorhome, it's probably been fairly lightly loaded, and doesn't have too many miles on it. Especially with the kind of deal you're looking at, a D13 with I-shift would hardly be something to be hesitant about.

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I will agree for mechanical items there are a lot of places to take it; you just have to find them. Here I have a mechanic used to work for Cat but separated ways and know why and will not elaborate. Now he has his own shop with just him. Well I should say he does the big stuff and he hires another guy as needed to do the smaller pickups etc. Now there can be a time when he does not have the $10,000 or $15,000 computer and software specific to you engine, etc. and you would have to take to a dealer for programming and such. But even without the glamorous software that does so much diagnostic good old fashion trouble shooting does a lot.


So bottom line don't be scared off just look for the right guy. My guy does stuff for me when I am uncomfortable doing it or just plain lazy(it happens). Only problem with him is he is good enough he has so much business hard to get squeezed in. Specially as I tell him take care of the guys losing money because they are not rolling. I found with him anyway if I leave it in his yard and tell him to work on it when he can it drives him nuts. He will usually gets to it sooner than if I ask him call me when he can work on it.


Anyway good luck.

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You can run into incompetence at any time in any field (lawyers, doctors, even airline pilots who want to commit suicide), most well established independent shop know they compete with other shop and dealers and hiring or having a "ringer" or a "parts swapper" on the floor is not good for their business or reputation. There were few threads on this forum about places and dealers to avoid, including couple that were real financial horror stories, but that's generally not normal.

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I definitely avoid calling it a motorhome--if anything, I'll mention that it's long

Yeah, I think that was my original mistake, I gave some one too much information, from now on It just has an "extended" sleeper.




Try to have that much latitude at any dealer's facility.

Yeah, I try to use independant businesses if I can, The local shop came highly recommended, That's why I was underwhelmed by his response. Glad to hear your great ending.



Reading about Regeneration cycles etc causes a little paranoia I think, Knowing that engines are better off working than sitting, makes one wonder about the failures that creep in. But like most things in life, "ya pays your money and takes your chances". There are fixes available, it's just the paying some one to use expensive Diagnostics equipment. So much for the shade tree mechanic. :lol:


Does make you wonder how Han Solo kept the Millennium Falcon running...... :D


Does anyone use an oil analysis service?

I've got an aircraft background with them, but no vehicle use.

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I have a 2009 with the D13. Only issue I have found is that they do have a tendencey to crack exhaust manifolds. I did mine at the safety check so I do not ever expect to have to do it again.

Regen is about every 2 to 3000 kilometres.

Milage is about 8 to 9 mpg puling my 5er, I am not singled.

The exhaust rumble is louder than a D12, but then I am not a weed blow, My stack is still original.


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I have a good friend that buys a new Ford Super-Duty EVERY Two years and he buys EVERY option.........He has HUGE list of dealers he will NOT take his rig to...... and a very Short-list of dealers that have proven to be good......


HDT's are a different breed of animal than LGT's and almost every town of any size has at least 1 or 2 or 3 long-time heavy duty shops that keep the local equipment running year after year.......most of these shops are not too flashy but the live by keeping the rigs on the road so they tend to be pretty good folks as a whole.......


The more electronics you have to deal with the closer you get to having to work with a specific truck make dealer......


As you become more comfortable with a HDT, the more you tend to find them to be fairly straight-forward machines..... most of the times......


We old geezers get by with them so they must not be to taxing.....


Drive on.........(don't worry too much.....)

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I take my rig to my nearby Kenworth dealer. When I bought it I stopped in and talked to the service manager about it. He told me he would be happy to do any work on it I needed. I told him I wanted to change my own oil (do it on my cars so what could be the problem?). He told me my engine has 9 gallons of oil in it. Hahaha, I don't have a big enough drain pan. Then he told me there are two oil filters, one of them is huge. And every time you change oil (10k miles) you should change the fuel filter, grease all the zirks, check the oil in the front hubs and rear diff, check the clutch free play, and coolant condition. Then he told me it's $229, for everything. That was in '09, it's gone up a small amount since then. He told me they bill me like I'm a box truck so I don't get any added cost like an RV would. And their mechanics love working on mine since it's WAY cleaner than the working trucks that come through the shop. I did visit with my Freightliner dealer for some specific parts and the service guy told me they wouldn't charge me the RV rate since mine is basically a box truck (I did tell him that's how Kenworth charges me so maybe that helped?). I agree with all the advise given above too. Find a independent shop where you can build a working relationship with and you'll be surprised how much money you'll save. The PM stuff is very competitive so they all keep those prices low.

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