Knoxville, TN is a diesel trucker’s paradise! Ok, ok, actual paradise might involve a cold beer in hand and beach waves in the background, but Knoxville is a close second for trucking professionals. According to ATA American Trucking Trends, the trucking industry was responsible for moving 11.84 billion tons of freight in 2019. Due to the shortage of truckers and the increasing prices on fuel, the demand for energy-conscious truckers is higher than ever before. The American Trucking Association reports that the largest factor contributing to the driver shortage is retiring truck drivers who need to be replaced with new hires, which will account for 54% of new drivers. Semi-truck drivers who know how to work the roadways to their advantage, utilize technology, and find the best stops for their rig will be the most successful in this evolving era for trucking.
Here are the 5 reasons Knoxville, TN, is a great destination for truckers and their rigs passing through East Tennessee.
Interstate I-40, a major connector that begins in Barstow, California, runs through or near many major cities including Albuquerque, New Mexico; Amarillo, Texas; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Little Rock, Arkansas; Memphis, Tennessee; Nashville, Tennessee; Greensboro, North Carolina; and Raleigh, North Carolina, and goes through the heart of Knoxville.
Another link into Knoxville is I-75 which runs from Chattanooga, TN, to Jellico, TN,. It enters Tennessee from Georgia then follows the Cumberland Mountains before going into Kentucky. Today’s truckers are challenged to get to their destination in the most efficient way possible and coming through Knoxville, TN, is often a way to get to many metropolitan areas within 2-4 hours.
Here’s some estimated drive times to towns and cities close to Knoxville:
1 Hour (or less) from Knoxville:
Pigeon Forge – 57 minutes
Maryville – 28 minutes
Sevierville – 42 minutes
Morristown – 55 minutes
2 Hours (or less) from Knoxville:
Trenton, GA – 2 hours
Dalton, GA – 2 hours
Cherokee NC – 2 hours
Abingdon, VA – 2 hours
Gatlinburg, TN – 1 hour, 15 minutes
Chattanooga, TN – 1 hours, 45 minutes
3 Hours (or less) from Knoxville:
Lexington, KY – 2 hours, 51 minutes
Nashville, TN – 2 hours, 36 minutes
Murfreesboro, TN – 2 hours, 40 minutes
Hiram, GA – 3 hours
Franklin, TN – 3 hours
4 Hours (or less) from Knoxville:
Atlanta, GA – 3 hours, 8 minutes
Cincinnati, OH – 4 hours
Louisville, KY – 3 hours, 45 minutes
Birmingham, AL – 3 hours, 41 minutes
Charlotte, NC – 3 hours, 52 minutes
#2 Lower Fuel Prices
For owner operators, fuel is one of the biggest expenses. It’s important to take advantage of savings on the road when drivers can. During a recent survey conducted by GasBuddy, diesel truck drivers can save as much as $0.60 per gallon on diesel in the Knoxville area, depending on which station they select.
Here are some free apps to help truckers find the best fuel prices on the road:
#3 Great Places to Eat and Play
Knoxville is home to amazing food and entertainment near travel centers right off I-40. What makes these travel centers unique is their walkability to Turkey Creek, a large Knoxville shopping, dining, and entertainment venue that has everything a driver needs to unwind from a long day on the road.
Within walking distance or a quick Uber ride to Turkey Creek shopping, dining and The Pinnacle Movie Theater are:
Pilot Travel Center
314 Lovell Road
Knoxville, TN 37934
Travel Centers of America
608 Lovell Road
Knoxville, TN 37932
- Pet area
- StayFit Fitness Room
Local dining favorites in Knoxville:
Calhoun’s – Some of Tennessee’s finest BBQ, ribs, and sandwiches
Smoky Mountain Brewery – Craft beer, wings, and hand tossed pizza
Nick & J’s – Knoxville’s Best Diner! You won’t find a better burger in town
#4 Nearby Wellness and Hotel Options
Knoxville is the place to be if a trucker is staying overnight or in need a chiropractic adjustment before getting back on the road. Knoxville offers affordable options for both wellness and rest outside the truck for a good night’s sleep. In a National Library of Medicine survey, truckers were found to have significant issues affecting their mental health, such as loneliness (27.9%), depression (26.9%), chronic sleep disturbances (20.6%), anxiety (14.5%), and other emotional problems (13%). Drivers who invest in their health will be stronger mentally and physically.
Hotels near Turkey Creek:
Comfort Suites Knoxville West – Farragut 811 N Campbell Station Road, Knoxville TN 37932
Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriot Knoxville Turkey Creek 11763 Snyder Road, Knoxville, TN 37932
Homewood Suites by Hilton 10935 Turkey Drive, Knoxville, TN 37934
Hotels near Cedar Bluff (10-minute drive from Turkey Creek)
Holiday Inn Knoxville West Cedar Bluff 9134 Executive Park Drive, Knoxville, TN 37923
Best Western Plus Knoxville Cedar Bluff 420 N Peters Rd, Knoxville, TN 37922
Baymont by Wyndam Knoxville/Cedar Bluff 209 Market Place Blvd, Knoxville, TN 37922
Great spots to focus on wellness in Turkey Creek:
The Joint Chiropractic – Initial visit is $29
11015 Parkside Drive, Farragut 37934
Massage Envy – Ask about a total body stretch to relieve stiff muscles from driving all day or rapid tension relief!
11669 Parkside Drive, Farragut, TN 37922
#5 Specialized Diesel Maintenance and Service
If a diesel truck, tractor-trailer, or diesel engine needs maintenance or repair, there’s no better place for truckers to be than Knoxville. Why? Knoxville happens to have ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) technicians making it a one-stop destination for fleets and owner-operators alike. If a trucking professional needs a team of diesel mechanics that bring experience and expertise to their rig, they need the ASE designation by the business they hire.
Knoxville, TN Has Everything a Diesel Trucker Could Want and More!
From Knoxville’s prime location to knowing without a doubt their truck is in the best care possible with ASE certified mechanics at Certified Diesel Solutions, there is no better place for a diesel truck driver to stop in and take a break. Conveniently located in East Knoxville, Certified Diesel Solutions is easy to access and hard to miss as they service individual rigs as well as fleets of any size! Front to back, inside and out, they will have any tractor-trailer and diesel truck covered with the latest diagnostic equipment, tools, and expertise.
Here are some of the services Certified Diesel Solutions can provide your rig before you leave Knoxville:
- DOT Inspections
- Preventative Maintenance Services
- Engine Overhauls and Repair
- Water Pumps
- Clutch Adjustment, Installation, and Repair
- Trailer Repair and Welding
- Electronics Services
- Tire and Suspension Services
If you’re an owner operator, driveaway driver, or fleet manager, Certified Diesel Solutions offers competitive prices so you can stay on top of maintenance issues. Contact Certified Diesel Solutions today to schedule your service and plan to stop in Knoxville when you’re passing through!
Want to stay close to Certified Diesel Solutions?
La Quinta Inn and Suites by Wyndham Knoxville East
7210 Saddle Rack Street, Knoxville, TN, 37914
Days Inn by Wyndham Knoxville East
5423 Asheville Highway, Knoxville, Tennessee 37914
Hampton Inn Knoxville-East
7445 Sawyer Lane, Knoxville, Tennessee, 37924
Pilot Travel Center
7210 Strawberry Plains Pike, Knoxville, TN 37914
- Game Room
- Public Laundry
Whether it’s setting up new parts for fleet trucks of all types or making necessary repairs for truck owners and companies who come their way, the goal of any good fleet management service should always be to get you back on the road and back to work. Here are four common repairs made on fleet trucks. Read on to learn more about them, so you can be on the lookout for them so that you can know what exactly you need to get checked out by your own ASE mechanic in the future!
The diesel engine is the workhorse of the automotive world. It powers the heaviest loads, from trains to tractor-trailers, and can last for a million miles or more—if properly maintained. Part of that maintenance includes an engine overhaul at some point in every diesel engine’s lifetime, to examine all its components for wear and tear, replace or repair damaged parts, and clean the engine from particle and grease build up. But having your engine overhauled is a costly decision, so it pays to know the right time to do it as well as the consequences of putting it off.
What is a Diesel Engine Overhaul?
A diesel engine overhaul is when a mechanic takes apart an engine and replaces a significant number of engine components in order to restore full power and functionality. The specific parts and amount of replacement varies on a case-by-case basis, depending on whether there has been any kind of engine failure and on the engine’s repair and maintenance history.
In most cases, a diesel engine overhaul requires five basic steps:
Disassembling: Diesel mechanics take apart the upper and lower half of the engine.
Cleaning: Mechanics clean each part of the diesel engine to remove particle build up and make examining each part easier.
Inspecting: Diesel mechanics inspect each engine component to assess its condition and whether or not it needs to be replaced. Typically, an overhaul involves replacing cylinder packs and all associated gaskets. Injectors and the water pump might also need to be replaced, and the mechanic will examine the camshaft, rocker arms, turbocharger, crankshaft and gears for wear.
Repairing: Mechanics repair the parts that can be reused and reassemble the engine with the replacement parts.
Testing: Many diesel engines have a series of factory-approved procedures to test the engine’s power and function.
How Much Does a Diesel Engine Overhaul Cost?
Overhauling a tractor-trailer engine can vary depending on the engine make, overhaul level and the experience of the mechanics performing the work. Typically, certified engine overhauls range anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000. Diesel engine overhauls aren’t cheap, but they do cost a lot less than a new tractor trailer (between $75,000-$180,000). And, unlike an engine failure, you can usually plan for an engine overhaul.
Signs You Should Consider an Overhaul Your Truck Engine
The biggest sign that your tractor trailer needs an engine overhaul can been seen on the odometer. Well-maintained trucks can last up to 1,000,000 miles, but best practice notes that at 700,000 miles or more, a diesel engine should be overhauled. Replacing key parts like a head gasket or injectors can buy you time, but to avoid a catastrophic failure, you need a full engine overhaul.
Some signs you might need an engine overhaul include:
High Blowby: Blowby is the compressed fuel and air mixture that leaks past the piston and into the crankcase. High blowby, where piston and piston ring wear allow excess gases to escape, can cause higher oil consumption. The root causes of high blowby can include turbocharger issues, worn valve guides or cylinder head issues; and diagnosing the problem requires a thorough look at your diesel engine.
Rough Idle: Engines can ‘hunt’ while idling—revving up and down in an attempt to balance fuel and compression or to burn off extra oil from worn components. They can also ‘miss’ during an idle, a.k.a. hesitate, which is usually caused by malfunctioning injector or improper valve clearance. If your tractor trailer has an unusually rough idle, it might be time to examine its engine functionality.
Lower Fuel Economy: A decreasing fuel economy is one of the key indicators you’re losing diesel engine power and functionality. While poor mileage can indicate a lot of things—from issues with your camshaft to contaminated fuel or filter or injector issues—a consistently lower or decreasing fuel economy is a sign that you might want a diesel mechanic to examine your engine.
High Coolant or Oil Consumption: If your diesel engine is suddenly using up more oil or coolant, it might indicate an oil leak, cracked cylinder head or gasket, or faulty cylinder liners and O-rings. Getting the engine checked can help you avoid an irreparable engine failure caused by overheating. If oil is burning or leaking, it can cause additional problems if not addressed right away, resulting in a more expensive repair.
Blue Smoke: Blue smoke under the hood indicates your engine is burning oil—usually excessive oil on the cylinder wall—along with fuel. Because the engine components are worn, the clearances can’t fully remove the oil. An engine compression check can help identify where the issue is and whether you need more extensive repair.
Oil Analysis: Many diesel truckers are also turning to analyses that identify high metal concentrations or contaminants in oil to determine when to overhaul an engine. Oil analysis can also identify if unfiltered air has entered the system. Oil analysis works best if it’s done regularly so samples can be compared, and you can monitor how levels rise over time and consider an engine overhaul if they suddenly spike.
Engine Failures an Overhaul Can Fix
It’s always best to opt for an engine overhaul before your engine fails, but—depending on the cause—engine failure doesn’t always mean that you need to purchase a new tractor trailer. There are several instances where parts come loose within the internal engine which require an engine overhaul, but the diesel engine can be repaired:
- Spun Bearing: A spun bearing usually seizes itself around the crankshaft, causing damage to the rod journal and the connecting rod. It’s often caused by the strain of high operating loads when your crankcase isn’t significantly lubricated. If the broken rod comes loose inside the engine, it can cause severe damage. It requires an engine overhaul but can be fixed by replacing the broken parts.
- Dropped Valve: When a valve head becomes bent and shears, falling into the cylinder, damaging the piston-cylinder-valve system. A diesel mechanic needs to take apart the engine to replace the system, but the engine can run again after the overhaul.
- Low/No Oil Pressure: High oil level in the crankcase almost always indicates excess fluid is leaking somewhere else inside the engine. Mechanics must take apart the engine completely to determine the source of the fluid leak.
Engine Failures That an Overhaul Can’t Fix
There are severe consequences to putting off an engine overhaul, ones that completely decommission a diesel engine. While every situation is different, some common engine failures that an overhaul can’t fix include:
Seized Engine: An engine usually seizes because the lubrication system failed, often due to an undiagnosed oil leak. If oil levels get too low, the engine can overheat, melting cylinders or causing a cracked block. A cracked block means you lose nearly all engine power. If any part of the engine begins to melt, warp or crack from overheating it can be impossible to disassemble.
Blown Engine: When a broken timing belt snaps, it ‘blows’ the engine, causing severe damage to valves and pistons. If you’re lucky, the piston will simply hit the valves, and you’ll need a valve repair. But if the piston parts get into the oil pan, they will damage the internal engine components. Too many internal components damaged, and it’s better to start again with a new engine.
Blown Head Gasket: The head gasket’s main job is to maintain combustion pressure in the engine and keep oil and coolant from mixing. When a head gasket blows, oil and coolant leak, sometimes into one another, and the engine overheats. A blown gasket caught early can be fixed, but if the engine overheats too much, it can become irreparably damaged.
Why You Should Choose an ASE-Certified Shop to Overhaul Your Engine
If a mechanic is going to take apart your truck’s diesel engine and put it back together, your livelihood and safety depend on their expertise. That level of trust requires more than word of mouth recommendations. ASE Certified mechanics undergo extensive testing to demonstrate knowledge of the skills necessary to diagnose, service and repair engines. ASE has a specific series dedicated to Class 4 through Class 8 trucks and tractors, and an even more specified certification for diesel engines within that category.
CDS’s ASE-certified team of diesel mechanics are experts in diagnosing and treating all semitruck automotive issues and conducting extensive repairs and engine overhauls. Equipped with the latest technology in the field, our knowledgeable team has the know-how and the muscle to get your diesel truck fixed the right way and always on the first try— because we believe in quality service that gives our clients peace of mind when they’re out on the road. Contact us at cdspros.com to make an appointment, or stop in our Knoxville location today and we promise that we will have you taken care of and back on the road in no time.
When the time comes for DOT inspections, it can be an anxiety-inducing time for truck drivers everywhere across North America. Though they generally occur during the spring and summer, they can happen at any time during the year or at any place. DOT inspections can determine whether a driver is fit to operate their vehicle and whether or not a commercial vehicle is safe enough to be on the road. Because DOT inspections are rather unpredictable events with extremely high stakes, it’s incredibly vital that all drivers are adequately prepared for them. That’s why we’ve compiled some in-depth information about what DOT inspectors look for during inspections as well as how to best prepare your fleet to pass.
What is a DOT inspection?
As we briefly described above, DOT inspections are a series of roadside tests that determine whether or not large commercial vehicles are in working order. These inspections are often performed by state troopers or inspectors that work for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (or the FMCSA). Most inspections take place during what is commonly referred to as “DOT week” in which inspectors from the FMCSA work for 72 long hours, investigating almost 65,000 commercial vehicles across the country.
DOT inspections are incredibly important for the safety of everyone on the road, as well as for the operators of the commercial vehicles being inspected. They ensure that fewer accidents or other potentially dangerous roadside incidents take place as the vehicles carry their cargo.
Types of DOT Inspections
There are six levels of DOT inspections that your fleet could be subjected to. We’ve detailed what each level of inspection is looking for, and how to best prepare.
Level 1: The North American Standard Inspection
This is the most comprehensive of all the inspections. Drivers can expect a very thorough inspection of all their documents, as well as the inner workings of the commercial vehicle that they operate. In addition, inspectors also search for drugs, alcohol, and other potentially hazardous material(s).
Drivers should have their driver’s license, daily driver’s log and hours of service, and a driver and vehicle inspection report on hand when they are pulled over for inspection. In addition to this paperwork, the following vehicle mechanisms should be prepared for inspection:
- Seat belt
- Coupling devices
- Brake systems
- Exhaust and fuel systems
- Headlamp, tail lamps, stop lamps, and brake lamps
- Safe loading
- Securement of cargo
- Turn signals
- Windshield wipers
- Wheels and hubcaps
Level 2: Walk-Around Driver/Vehicle Inspection
This particular level of evaluation is nearly the same as the level one inspection but checks fewer of the commercial vehicle’s mechanisms. It does not require inspecting beneath the CMV, so it is generally less exhaustive than a level one inspection. All the above documents should still be in order.
Level 3: Driver-Only Inspection
As the name indicates, this is an inspection of the driver of a CMV. Inspectors will check for the following paperwork items:
- Driver’s license
- Medical card
- Driver’s daily log
- Driver incident history
- Driver and Vehicle Inspection Report
- Hazmat requirements
In addition to these items, the driver’s seat belt will also be checked for safety insurance.
Level 4: Special Inspection
This level of inspection usually involves the investigation of one particular facet of the truck or commercial vehicle. This usually occurs to either invalidate a previous claim about an aspect of the vehicle or to allow the Department of Transportation to conduct further research about a certain part of the vehicle’s operation. The latter of these options typically occurs when a frequent violation has been discovered, and the DOT wants to track improvement over time.
Level 5: Vehicle-Only Inspection
Level five inspections are similar to a level two inspection and specifically target the safety of the vehicle. The key difference lies in the fact that the driver cannot be present at a level five inspection. These are most commonly performed after an accident or arrest has occurred, in which the driver would already be away from his or her vehicle.
Level 6: Enhanced NAS Inspection for Radioactive Shipments
DOT regulations that came into effect in 2005 require that every commercial vehicle carrying radioactive materials must pass a level six DOT inspection. These include detailed investigations of the following:
- Inspecting for radiological shipments
- Enhanced out of service criteria
- Radiological requirements
- Enhanced to a level one inspection
Though these requirements for the varying levels of inspection may seem daunting, there are plenty of ways to prepare your personal vehicle or your fleet for a passing grade.
How Best to Prepare for a DOT Inspection
One of the best ways to avoid a safety issue, whether you’re getting inspected or not, is to perform your own walk-around vehicle investigation. Checking the tire pressure of your vehicle, testing your lights, and looking for possible cracks in your windows can be a great start to ensuring that your vehicle passes inspection.
In addition to inspecting your own vehicle and keeping up with regular maintenance, keeping your paperwork in order is also a great way to prepare. Inspectors have a ton of commercial vehicles to check over, so having your licenses and logs organized can make the process move along smoother.
Though you won’t be judged on the cleanliness of your cab, it’s always nice to see that a truck is being taken care of. Cleaning out your cab regularly, as well as washing the exterior of your truck can tell an inspector all that they need to know about how dedicated you are to the job.
Finally, being polite to your inspector when the time comes is key. Inspectors are people too, and they’re only doing their job. Though it can be a frustrating or anxiety-inducing time for a driver, it’s just as stressful for an inspector. Being polite and prepared can definitely affect the results of your inspection in a very positive way.
Even though this is a tedious process, it might be surprising to know that FMCSA inspectors don’t actually want you to fail! We’ve given you a general summary of what occurs during a DOT inspection, but visiting their website can give you all of the answers you need about what inspectors are looking for, and how to prepare.
Certified Diesel Solutions is Here for You
Certified Diesel Solutions has been serving the commercial vehicle communities of Tennessee for over a decade. Our team of expertly trained mechanics can handle any type of repair or maintenance that your automobile or tractor-trailer may require. We offer a range of services including preventative maintenance services, DOT inspections, and detailed fleet record keeping ensuring that your vehicles are working dependably. Our team realizes how important it is to have a team of reliable mechanics that you can trust, which is why we emphasize creating long-lasting bonds with our clients. If you think our services are right for you, we’d love to hear from you! Visit our website or give us a call at (865) 964-6598.
Routine maintenance on your truck can seem like a hassle, especially when it comes to tediously de-greasing and inspecting components of your tractor-trailer. And with so many types of grease on the market and parts to your trailer, it’s hard to know what to do once you’re elbows deep in the stuff. That’s why our diesel mechanics are here to break down some of the basic questions that fleet managers and truck drivers have about this basic routine maintenance service. We’ll be covering how often you should be greasing your tractor-trailer’s parts, what grease you should invest in, and why you should be inspecting the parts of your tractor-trailer after you de-grease and re-grease them.