Proper and regular maintenance in trucking is important year-round, however, the winter months can be a monster that requires special winter maintenance attention. The cold weather is always an issue, but the rapid temperature drops that occur are much harder on the engine and various components than the summer temps. For this reason, any parts that have not been properly maintained will inevitably take on more wear than normal by the added stress of winter driving. Here we will be exploring some top tips for winter truck maintenance to help keep you safe and operational during tough winter weather conditions.
Use winterized fuel
Cold weather is rough on diesel fuel. Running your truck with untreated fuel during freezing temperatures can cause some serious issues such as fuel gelling, plugged filters from build-up, or even frozen fuel lines. Avoiding these issues will not only help prolong the life of your engine but will keep you on the road making money.
Avoid cold soaks
Cold soaks is an odd term to those not familiar to diesel engines. They occur when the engine fluids and metal components of the engine block drop to ambient temperatures. The fuel can also be impacted as the wax component within the fuel solidifies, making the fuel cloudy. This happens when a vehicle sits for more than a day and it can greatly impact starting the engine as well as the charging systems.
Check tires and tire pressure
We know that the air in tires expands and contracts as the outside temperature fluctuates. Freezing temperatures can obviously make this worse than normal so it is important to maintain proper inflation on the tires for them to function safely and not cause excess wear. If you have tires with wearing tread this can cause slippery driving conditions as well. Having correctly inflated tires, and running winter tires in good condition will help prevent breakdowns and accidents.
Plug in the engine block heater
In cold weather you may notice trucks with extension cords coming from under the hood plugged in. While an odd sight to many, this actually performs a vital task; keeping the block of the engine warm and avoiding those cold soaks, making it easier for the engine to start.
Check the battery
The battery is no exception to needing special care in cold weather. It is imperative to make sure the battery is not past its expiration date so you know it is capable of holding a good charge. You may want to consider keeping a good voltage tester on board. It is important to keep the battery in a fully charged state and the terminals free of corrosion, which can slow or prevent a charge and leave you with a dead battery.
Keep your fuel tank at least half full
Truckers typically get in the habit of only filling enough fuel for each trip so that their paycheck is not sitting in their fuel tanks, however, in the winter there are benefits to keeping more fuel in the tank, such as condensation build-up that will add unwanted water into your tank. Even if you have a water separator for fuel going into your tank, condensation build-up can still allow water to get in there after the fact.
Change your wipers
When driving during inclement weather you depend largely on your wiper blades to keep your vision clear for driving. If your windshield wipers are not up to the task due to being old and worn, the harsh conditions such as freezing rain and ice build-up could leave you in a bad spot with a broken wiper blade.
Check fluid levels
You should make sure that your fluids are topped off to keep your truck in the optimal running condition during the cold temperature months. Windshield washer fluid can be vital to keep your vision clear. Other fluids like coolant, antifreeze, and any additive can become extra important to fight the stress of the winter when the temperatures drop, especially on the radiator. This also helps with maintaining a good fuel economy.
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