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Troubleshooting Article Archive:  May 2006      
Springtime Snatch Truck Problems
The arrival of spring causes two problems with repossession-style tow trucks:  failure of switches in the remote control, and blowout of the main pressure hydraulic hose under the hood.

Remote Control Switch Failure

Remote control switches always seem to fail during and after extended periods of rainy or misty May and June weather.  Because the switches are wired together to run the clutch pump on a snatch truck, one failed switch can disable the entire unit, and burn up the pump.  When you replace switches, you're working in close quarters.  Be careful to transfer each wire correctly to the new switch, and make sure the terminals on one switch don't make contact with those on another switch.  If all the switches are old, it's a good idea to replace them all rather than have to spend many hundreds of dollars replacing clutch pump parts later.

Out in the field, in an emergency, you can sometimes get a failed switch to work temporarily by gently jiggling the switch to the side at the same time as you press it up or down.

Hydraulic Hose Blowout

In order to get from the engine compartment to the wrecker bed, the main pressure hydraulic hose is usually routed near the engine's exhaust manifold, and the cumulative heating the hose endures eventually causes the hose to blow out, usually right next to the exhaust manifold.  Large gasoline V8 engines worsen the problem because of their high exhaust temperatures and their wide cylinder banks leave less space for the hose under the hood.

When you replace the main pressure hose, tie it as far away from the exhaust manifold as possible.  Even an extra inch of clearance will extend its life.  Use high-quality, 2-wire braid rubber hydraulic hose instead of thinner-walled hose.  Budget for the replacement of the hose at least every couple of years.