The time to start thinking about the seasonal checks you need to make to prepare your trucks for the winter months is now. The extreme winter conditions only exacerbate underlying problems that may go unnoticed up to a light comes on, and your truck is sidelined.
Regular and precise maintenance will save you a lot of time, money, and hassle in the long-run so here are some seasonal preparation tips to keep in mind as the cold comes trucking in.
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.
The mix of chemicals and salt used to clear the snowy roads on top of the frigid temps can take a toll on your truck’s performance. Corrosion affects every fleet and can ruin your components if the connections are not secure and water tight. By utilizing high-quality parts meant to withstand the harsh demands of winter and prevent moisture, your truck’s uptime is more likely to increase. Using proper lubrication will additionally prevent breakdowns caused by increased friction and corrosion.
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
Some truckers typically usually get only filling enough fuel for each trip, 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.
Don’t idle trucks
It’s a popular strategy, but starting a cold truck and letting it idle is not only ineffective, but also damaging to your engine. If you need to warm a truck that’s been sitting overnight, drive it around the yard or parking lot. This will exercise the truck more efficiently, allowing it to warm the engine, transmission, differential, and suspension evenly.
Whether you’re running (or driving) one or 100 trucks, maintaining a good routine relies on easy communication between your drivers, fleet managers and operations teams. It’s always a good idea to share seasonal safety messages that remind drivers of any unique conditions. Combine this with regular, thorough vehicle inspections, and it can help keep your fleet in top shape across the colder winter months.