Tired Truck Driver In His 30s Resting In Front Of His Semi-truck

How Johnson Electric solves Truckers’ Top 5 Frustrations with Semi-Truck Solenoids

Solenoids may be the most important part of a semi-truck you’ve never heard of before. Even those with decades of experience in the trucking and manufacturing industries may not know the important role a solenoid plays in the daily life of a truck driver. Any driver who has been out on the road for long, though, will be very familiar with the solenoid and the role it plays in getting them and their cargo from Point A to Point B.

Understanding and overcoming those frustrations can lead to happier drivers as well as more efficient deliveries. Here are five common frustrations with semi-truck solenoids and how Johnson Electric can solve them.

Common Frustrations with Solenoids

They Can Be Temperamental in Extreme Weather

Solenoids aren’t known for their reliability in very hot, very cold, or very wet weather. In hot weather, the coil can’t dissipate the heat created, and the resistance of the coil increases. That means the solenoid can’t close and the coil that’s inside will burn out. You may experience something similar in extremely cold weather. If you’ve ever tried to start your car or semi-truck only to hear it click but not turn over, that could be because the solenoid is simply too cold to engage. This will happen more often if the solenoid is getting old and needs replacing.

It’s not just hot and cold weather that can stop a solenoid from working. Wet weather is another concern. Too much moisture can lead to corrosion, which can have a major impact on the solenoid’s functionality.

To avoid unnecessary maintenance issues for customers, automotive solenoids from Johnson Electric undergo a 12-hour salt spray test to check for corrosion. Each solenoid is closely inspected by our engineers at the end of the test.

Companies Often Don’t Replace Them on Time

This is one of the frustrations that’s particularly strong for drivers working with a company vehicle instead of their own semi-truck. Solenoids, like most moving parts on a vehicle, will eventually need replacing. How often you replace a solenoid will depend on many factors, including:

  • Working conditions of the vehicle
  • What mechanism the solenoid is controlling
  • How often you fire the solenoid
  • How regularly you maintain the vehicle
  • The quality of the solenoid

If the solenoid is being used constantly in tough conditions, most manufacturers will tell you that you’ll get about 500,000 actuations. This example is specific to applications for out tubulars for tractors.

Good maintenance can net you ten times as many uses. The problem is that drivers operating company-owned trucks have very little control over the maintenance schedule. That means they can get caught out waiting for a solenoid replacement while trying to meet strict delivery deadlines.

It’s Easy to Misdiagnose a Solenoid Issue

Is it the solenoid or the starter? That’s the timeless question a trucker will ask themselves when their rig fails to turnover. Because these systems work together and depend on each other to start the engine, if one fails then neither will work. It can be tough to know which element is causing the issue, though. If the solenoid has gone bad, then you’ll still be able to start the engine if you can pass the electrical current through the starter. If you’ve ever seen someone start their vehicle with a screwdriver, that’s what they were doing. The metal of the screwdriver acts as a connection between the two points, bypassing the solenoid and allowing the engine to turn over.

Fortunately, solenoids are easy to replace. If you misdiagnose the problem, though, it can mean the costly and time-consuming replacement of the entire starter mechanism. That’s more money and more time down the drain – and more frustrations – for what could have been an easy fix.

They Like to Be Clean

Of course, trucking isn’t exactly a clean job. There will be plenty of moisture and debris on the road that can get inside the engine of the semi-truck and create issues. Most manufacturers will build in protection around the solenoid to prevent dirt and debris from getting inside the value. Seals used for this purpose can get old, crack, and wear away, leaving the solenoid exposed and vulnerable. Regular maintenance and replacing solenoids at the first sign of wear and tear can prevent a total breakdown.

Coolants Can Short Them Out

Semi-trucks need coolants. They help prevent the truck’s systems from overheating, so coolants aren’t something that a driver wants to go without but keep coolants away from solenoids. That’s because water-based coolants can contain fine metallic pieces. If that liquid (and the metal it contains) comes into contact with the solenoids, it can short them out.

Even if it doesn’t short out the wiring, coolants can cause other issues. Coolants can attract dust, so spillage on or near the solenoid can start to clog up the mechanism. Some coolants are sticky in certain weather conditions, another issue that can prevent solenoids from working correctly. The best method is to keep coolants away from solenoids. If you do experience a spill or a leak, clean up the coolant right away.

Key Ways to Prevent Most Solenoid Frustrations

You can prevent most of the frustrations caused by performing the proper maintenance and buying quality solenoid parts in the first place. High-quality rotary and linear solenoids will be able to stand up to harsh conditions better and wear out slower. Making sure solenoids are clean, well-lubricated, and replaced at the first sign of wear and tear should help keep your drivers and their trucks running smoothly. Have more questions about getting the right solenoids for your fleet? Get in touch with our team now.


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