It’s that time of the year: snow will soon be flying and the temperatures will drop so it’s time to get your trucks and fleet ready for winter.
One of the best ways to stay prepared (and safe) in winter is to monitor weather and road conditions. Smartphone apps like WeatherBug can provide accurate weather conditions, and traffic apps like Waze can keep you informed how weather (or traffic, construction, etc.) is impacting the roads. A CB or “citizen’s band” radio is still useful for checking on road conditions and accidents.
We’ve mentioned many of these tips in our last winter readiness blog post, but they are worth repeating because of their importance to safe and productive winter driving.
Mechanical systems to check and winterize on your truck or fleet include:
Battery / electrical system. The battery drains faster in cold weather so make sure it has a full charge, is securely mounted, the connections aren’t corroded and are tightly fastened.
Fuel system. Make sure the fuel filter is in good condition and consider changing it before winter starts. Check the water separator daily once winter begins and drain water to make sure condensation isn’t forming inside the fuel tank. Use fuel additives to make sure fuel passes through your fuel filter efficiently.
Cooling system. Trucks can overheat in winter because diesel engines must work extra hard, so check the radiator for leaks, inspect hoses for bulges and cracks, and make sure all clamps are tight. It’s also a good idea to flush your system and replace the antifreeze.
Tires and air brakes. Check each tire to make sure they have plenty of tread, are inflated to the correct pressure, and are not cracked or compromised in any way. Inspect your air dryer to make sure it is working properly and inspect it for leaks or corrosion.
Engine. Consider using lighter weight oil if you spend a lot of time in cold temperatures. If you are using 15W-40 oil, consider switching to 10W-30. Also, use an engine block heater. Diesel engines have a harder time starting in cold weather because they need higher cylinder temperatures, so an engine block heater will keep the engine warm and make starting easier.
Other winter maintenance tips:
- Install new wiper blades and use cold temperature washer fluid
- Lubricate your fifth wheel with lithium grease or silicone
- Keep a can of WD-40 handy to defrost frozen locks
- Apply a lubricant to all door seals to keep them from freezing
- Have spare fluids, like washer fluid, antifreeze, etc. on-hand if needed
More winter equipment to consider for your trucks or fleet:
Fog lights. In fog and snow, fog lights will light the road and make trucks more visible to other traffic.
Heated headlights. In a storm, headlights can become covered with ice and snow, but heated headlights keep them clean and your truck visible.
Grille protector. Using a breathable grille protector lets plenty of air into the engine compartment but keeps extremely cold air from freezing your radiator.
Bunk warmer. These energy efficient mattress toppers feature low amp draw and will keep you warm all night, or during the day for required breaks.
Cab heater. Using an energy efficient ceramic heater lets you stay warm without idling your engine.
Finally, create an emergency kit. Use a backpack or duffle bag and keep a flashlight, charging cords, snack foods, nonperishable foods, bottled water, medicine, maps, and important documents inside. You might never use it, but then again, you might need to.
Making your truck or fleet winter-ready will improve conditions for the driver and that helps ensure your loads get from origin to destination which helps your bottom line. If you need some help winterizing your trucks, Jarrett Fleet Services can help. We are close to I-71, I-76, I-77, I-80, or I-271 at 8860 Wooster Pike Seville, OH 44273, or call us at 330-925-5339.