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359 Peterbilt: Most Common Problems



Although the 359 Peterbilt model has since been replaced with other versions, the 359 model remains the most popular truck for big rig enthusiasts. The good thing is that the 3408 Cat engine can be replaced with Cummings 400 or Cummins ISX 871 to keep it going.  Loyal fans continue enjoying the 359 Peterbilt model, thanks to the availability of specs and professional repair and maintenance. However, like any other automobile, the truck has its challenges. Understanding the common challenges in the truck and how to resolve them will make you a better driver and allow the truck to serve you for longer.

Most Common Problems with the 395 Peterbilt / 3408 CAT® Engine

Hard Start Issues

As a long-distance driver, you have many challenges to deal with. A hard start is not one of the challenges you would love to deal with, especially when embarking on a long journey. However, if your truck is fitted with a Cummins or any other diesel engine, then you will have to deal with a hard start at some point. The following issues could cause a hard start.

Low engine compression

A low engine compression is a common challenge for any diesel engine with high mileage. Most 359 Peterbilt are over three decades old and have high mileage. It is, therefore, common to experience hard starts or other forms of delay in starting your journey. If you experience consistent hard starts, then order a cold engine compression test from a diesel engine diagnostics expert to troubleshoot the problem.

Low fuel pressure

A low fuel pressure may cause a hard start, or the engine may fail to start completely. Like with every fuel supply issue, it's always good to confirm that you have enough fuel in the tank. If there is enough fuel, check whether the pump is in good working condition. When the tank has enough fuel and the pump is working, the problem is low fuel pressure, which your mechanic will help you in fixing.

Low cranking speed

Cummins and other diesel engines for big rigs like 359 Peterbilt experience a hard start in cold seasons. The hard starts are mostly caused by low cranking speed, which limits the ability of the pump to generate enough pressure. Check the spark plugs to ensure they are working properly, or get a fuel systems expert to fix the problem.  

Low-quality fuel may also cause a hard start. You have resolved a hard start on your own, or you had the challenge fixed by an expert, you only fuel at trusted stations to reduce the risk of breakdowns due to low-quality fuel.

Running Rough at a Lower RPM

The 359 Peterbilt has the challenge of running roughly even at lower revolutions per minute (RPM). Many of the trucks experience a rough ride enough to shake rivets loose. Loose rivets may cause body panels to shift or cause irritating noise as you drive. Although the 359 generally has a rough ride, the roughness that causes discomfort is mostly caused by fuel issues. Low fuel pressure, inadequate fuel supply, and faulty fuel injectors may worsen the roughness of your 359 Peterbilt ride.

Air cleaner issues may also cause your 359 Peterbilt to have a rough ride. It is, therefore, advisable to have your air cleaners replaced every time you have a general maintenance service.  

Black Smoke

Black smoke is synonymous with big-rig trucks that are poorly maintained. Black smoke is also common for trucks that have power issues. If you notice black or sooty smoke from your truck, it is usually an indication of an imbalance in the air-to-fuel ratio. In most cases, it is easy to fix the challenge of black smoke since you only need to replace the air cleaners. If the replacement of the air cleaner does not solve the issue, then check the fuel system for faulty fuel injectors or pumps. Other possible causes of black smoke include defective intercooler or turbocharger and cylinder head problems. Fixing the black smoke issue will not only keep your truck clean, but also enhance its power.

EGR Valve Leaks

Your 359 will most probably have a Caterpillar or a Cummins diesel engine.  Most Cummins engines have an EGR- Exhaust Gas Recirculation system. However, Caterpillar engines only started using the EGR system in 2007. If your engine comes with an EGR system, then your truck is likely to develop an EGR valve leak. An EGR valve leak is manifested in the following ways.

A fluctuation in coolant consumption. Your truck may consume higher than normal coolants for some time and then resume its normal consumption. The fluctuation in coolant consumption makes it difficult to budget for coolants. The coolant expenses may also spike, making it difficult to run the truck. Another symptom of a leaking EGR valve is a white residue left after coolant consumption. If you are currently in the Phoenix metro area and experiencing these symptoms, an expert in exhaust services will help you fix the challenges.

Electrical Issues

The electric panel in your 359 Peterbilt controls the truck's instrument cluster. A failure in the electric panel, is, therefore,revealed in malfunctioning dashboard lights, radio, gas gauge, warning lights, or air pressure sensors. If you notice a challenge in the sensors or electric appliance in the truck, it's always good to troubleshoot the electric panel. The first step in troubleshooting should be resetting the circuit breaker. Next, check for corroded wires and the connection to the 12-volt battery. If you are unable to fix the problem, contact an electrical diagnostic and service & repair expert to fix the issue.  

AC Systems

The following signs indicate a problem with your A/C system a mould-like smell in the cabin, you cannot heat or cool the cabin as you wish, you struggle to defrost your windows, or the AC does not work while idling. If you notice such challenges, it's good to have the AC system checked and fixed by an expert.

Onsite Truck & Equipment Repair Can Help You

Your 359 Peterbilt is one of the best big trucks on the road. However, the truck may develop issues that lower its efficiency or make your drive hard. If you experience any mechanical or electrical issue with the 359 Peterbilt in Phoenix, AZ, Onsite Truck & Equipment Repair will help you out. You can also contact us now for more information on how to maintain your 359 Peterbilt.

Contact Onsite Truck & Equipment Repair Today!

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