Japanese trucks are the most popular heavy vehicles on the road – not just here, but around the world. Japan’s general dominance of the auto market – both for trucks and saloons – is unrivalled. It’s a mix of technical excellence, clever positioning, and strategic production. It also helps that their vehicles are affordable, and their truck spares are easily available. That said, there are still fleet managers and drivers who prefer American brands, and Mack is pretty high on the list. Mack has applied some forward-planning to nudge them along.
For example, Mack opened a factory in Australia, so while the brand is American in origin, most Mack trucks in Australia are designed and assembled down under. They’re designed specifically for local driving, from little things like right-hand-drive (Americans drive on the wrong [i.e. right] side of the road, so their cars are left-hand-drive by default) to bigger things like accommodating Aussie weather and being calibrated in kilometres rather than miles. This means Australian Mack parts sometimes have to be customised as well.
Where to find parts
Many drivers and owners opt for after-market truck parts, because they’re cheaper. But you want to be sure your ‘pre-loved’ parts are genuine and compatible with your truck. That way, you won’t damage your vehicle or break your warranty. Some after-market parts are actually brand new and completely genuine. Suppliers make bulk deals with original equipment manufacturers. By making strategic purchases, they source (and sell) original un-used parts at second-hand prices, which is great for everyone.
If you opt for after-market, find this type of supplier, get recommendations, and test before you buy. Otherwise, just visit Mack Australia and source your parts directly from them. It’ll cost more, but it’s a bigger guarantee. Be sure you deal with certified techs though. If they simply offer an American Mack part, it may not fit your Australian Mack truck. Their in-house mechanics can advise you on which parts are interchange-able and which ones aren’t.
Truck first aid
While it’s not strictly a spare part, an Emergency Roadside Assistance Kit is essential. If any of its parts are missing, you can probably buy a single piece form your favourite after-market source. A complete kit has reflective triangles, a tyre gauge, a flashlight (with batteries included), adjustable pliers, a bungee cord, tow rope, cables ties, electric tape, jumper cables, a utility knife, a rain coat, a screwdriver (it’s 2-in-one, so it has both flat-head and Philips bits). The kit also has its own comprehensive first aid box.
Still on the subject of first aid, there are certain Mack truck components that get overlooked. The driver may feel it’s a small thing, so even though they’re easily available, the trucker may not think it’s worth correcting. After all, it’s a cosmetic fix. But when you’re on the road for extensive hours every day, a small inconvenience can lead to pent-up micro-frustration. One such part is an interior door handle. It’s easy to break when you routinely yank the door open. Your exhaustion, heat, and road-bound stress could make you pull too hard.
Of course once the handle is broken, you just get used to opening your window, stretching your arm out, and opening the door from outside. Or you could just buy a replacement door handle from any parts supplier. You can get the handle itself or a hinge compressor for about $20. You could also by an interior trim repair kit and fix the door yourself. Get the individual door handle parts from a broken-down Mack at a junk yard, then use your repair kit to dismantle your broken one and install the ‘new’ one.
Another popular part is the bumper, both front and back. Of course by the time your truck’s bumper falls off, the other guy’s vehicle is in far worse condition. You can source a bumper at a junk yard, because many heavy vehicles that are complete write-offs may still have their bumpers intact. If your truck parts supplier describes it as a fender, be careful. We sometimes use these terms interchange-ably, but in the US, a fender is the bit that sits on top of the wheel, so you’re not necessarily buying what you think.
Trucks (and other cars) have oil filters, air filters, and fuel filters. You should change your oil filters every time you change your oil. Safe estimates suggest once in 3 months – or 5,000km, so that depends on what your daily driving is like and how fast you cover that distance. Air filters last ten times as long (50,000km), no longer than three years. Carefully inspect filter replacements for brittleness and quality of construction. Rough them up a little, just to be sure … the filaments of fake filters break off when you tug them.