It’s that time of year again, when the weather starts to turn in many states and drivers start thinking about prepping their equipment for the winter months. Trucks, by design are tough machines; but still, contain many parts and systems to function, many of which are sensitive to the external factors presented in cold weather. Here’s the top 4 areas drivers need check in order to be ready:

1. Coolants

The first line of defense against cold weather. Conventional and extended-drain coolants are both widely used in trucking.

  • Check the coolant system – including all clamps and hoses – for leaks. Make sure the coolant level is that the “full” mark. If not, pressurize the system to track down any coolant leaks.
  • Use a high-quality coolant and additives from trusted suppliers. Do no rely on questionable marketing claims and unknown sources of engine coolant that can provide marginal protection or create problems with newer heavy-duty vehicles.
  • Pull a coolant sample and check the solution to see if the freeze point is appropriate; a 50-50 solution will protect your engine down to -34F. This can be measured a number of ways, including a handheld refractometer, test strip, or hydrometer, – the refractometer is considered the most accurate.
  • Eyeball a sample of the solution in a see-through container; it should be clear, bright, and free of debris.

2. Battery Systems

Batteries can be the first to fail in icy wind conditions. In cold weather, more demand is placed on batteries because the cold causes a resistance to charge; this action ultimately decreases the batteries sulfation level and reduces life.

  • Ensure you have the correct battery for your vehicles specifications and its demands. You vehicle may require an AGM (amalgamated glass mat) or a conventional (lead-acid flooded cell) battery depending on these factors.
  • All batteries come in starting, dual-purpose or deep-cycle options, so make sure you choose the correct battery for your needs.
  • Battery age is crucial in cold weather; if the batteries are 3 years old and winter is coming, consider an early replacement.
  • To ensure proper battery performance, test them frequently and keep them charged prior to and during winter months.
  • Use a charger with an AGM setting when charging an AGM externally.
  • Winter battery preparations are altered dramatically if your truck uses an auxiliary power unit (APU). APU-tethered batteries often are discharged at a lower rate which can allow them to be susceptible  damage from freezing or simply not getting fully charged.
  • A battery’s recharge efficiency is reduced in cold weather, which strains the batter even more. Attempting to warm a cab with a battery that is not fully charged may lead to starting issues in the morning.

3. Tires

The important thing to remember here is that conditions for winter traveling can be more challenging. Safety should be the number one priority. Pre-trip inspections should always be performed.

  • Maintain proper tire pressure – tire pressure will drop in cold weather, so set the tire pressure prior to the trip while the tires are at ambient temperature. Use a properly calibrated gauge to check pressure.
  • Monitor tread depths – if you live in severe winter regions, consider a tire tread designed for those conditions.
  • Watch for irregular wear which may be signify weather related low traction conditions.
  • Inspect suspension components

 4. Oil

Using the correct oil viscosity for where your truck operates is key.

  • When determining cold weather viscosity, note that cold weather oil performance is predicted on ambient air temperatures; engines are not affected by wind-chill values. Check with your engine manufacturer or oil supplier for cold-weather recommendations
  • In extreme climates, switch to a lower-viscosity oil that will flow better.
  • Don’t use cold-weather additives for engine oil; manufacturers blend engine oils for cold-weather performance.

Remember, chains are required in Washington and Oregon as of November 1st!!!! Follow the chain manufacturers’ instructions for proper mounting!

Top 4 Truck Areas to Check in Preparation for Winter Driving was last modified: by