Now that we’re putting away our flip flops and hauling out heavy coats, it’s time to do the same for your truck. Preparing your truck for cold weather, or winterizing, is an important step to ensure that both you and your vehicle are ready for whatever winter brings. Even if your work doesn’t take you places with cold winter weather (lucky!), it never pays to underestimate Mother Nature. There are a few key things you should do to make sure you’re ready for winter.
Seven Tips To Keeping Your Semi Truck Ready For Winter
First, check on your emergency kit
An emergency kit is a necessity for any vehicle driving outside of densely populated areas under any conditions, but it’s even more vital when you’re driving long distances or in poor conditions. Many companies including TEC sell prepared emergency kits containing a few essentials, but you should always customize your kit to suit your situation and your needs. FEMA recommends the following basics in your vehicle:
- Jumper cables
- Flares or reflective triangles
- Ice scraper
- Cell phone charger
- Cat litter or sand
Second, check on your truck’s battery
The colder your battery is, the harder it is to start the vehicle. Take the time to make sure your battery is in good condition and holding power well. Clean any grime off the battery terminals. Then check your inverter and connections to ensure the whole system is working well. Freezing weather is not the time to discover a failing battery. Finally, check your block heater if you use one. Ensure it’s in good working condition and set up correctly. If your engine gets too cold, even the best maintained engine might not start up, leaving you stranded on the road.
Check your windshield wipers and windshield
If your wipers are old, cracking or damaged, take the time to replace them. If they look fine, wipe the edges down with some rubbing alcohol. This will remove any dirt, grease or oil that could cause squeaking or streaks. Then inspect your windshield. Take some time to repair rock chips or small cracks. You can DIY this or take it into a glass specialist.
Check all your lights and reflectors
Visibility is vital in poor weather conditions. Before the weather gets bad, ensure all your lights are working correctly. You should also give the housing a wipe down to remove any grime. Consider an ice-prevention coating, but most truck headlights produce enough heat to keep them free of ice, and many modern trucks have heated headlights.
Inspect your tires
The worst time to realize your tires are worn out is when you’re losing traction on the road. Take the time to check your tire pressure as well. Cold air takes up less space than warm air, so ideal PSI in the summer might not mean ideal PSI in the winter.
Inspect your chains
After you’ve checked out your tires, it’s important to verify that your chains are in the right spot and in good condition. Look for broken links or flat spots and don’t hesitate to replace them if they’re looking worn. People often wonder how fast you can drive with snow chains on your semi truck, and it’s generally best to keep it under 30, though conditions may warrant slower speeds. Not going too fast with chains can help to preserve them as well.
Consider fuel additives
Diesel contains paraffin, a kind of wax. So when temperatures drop, that wax can harden and gum up your fuel system. If you anticipate being in 0-degree temperatures, a fuel additive can save you a lot of hassle and downtime. You should also consider a deicing fluid for the air brake system. Moisture in your air brakes can freeze and cause valves to stick or malfunction.
The last check you should do might seem a bit counterintuitive: your cooling system. If you haven’t had your cooling system checked out in a while, take your truck into a shop for a thorough inspection. In poor conditions, particularly snowy conditions, your engine is working harder to power you through. Think about walking down the street on a sunny, clear day versus walking through snow; you end up working harder to go the same distance. Because your engine is working harder, it’s more prone to overheating. Then check the freeze point on your coolant and verify that it’s rated for the conditions you’ll be driving in.
Preparing your truck for winter is like so many other necessities in life, annoying but you’ll be glad you did later. So before you head out on the road in winter, take some time to make sure your and your truck are ready for whatever the road throws your way.
If all of this sounds like a bit too much, stop by a TEC service location and let us take care of your truck. A preventative maintenance inspection is always a good idea as the weather changes. And with every service performed at a TEC location, we do a complementary 22-point inspection to ensure your truck runs smoothly.