There are some lucky drivers whose tires will never touch ice or snow this winter, but for most, it’s a crucial time to ensure your truck is prepared to take on the hazardous roads ahead.
Between cold temperatures, corrosive highway de-icers and other winter hazards, this time of year is tough on trucks. Make sure you’re ready to roll through the rest of the season with these seven preventive maintenance tips.
Test your starting and charging systems.
The electrical system and batteries are the heart of modern trucks. They require special attention, especially during winter when they’re susceptible to cold temperatures and exposed to harsh highway chemicals. Have your batteries tested to make sure your rig is ready to crank during those cold morning starts. For extra measure, have a qualified technician test your alternator output, as well as your cables and connections.
Inspect belts and hoses.
Drastic changes in temperature can be tough on a truck’s rubber components. That combined with the additional pressure and tension put on a vehicle’s belts and hoses can lead to major issues. To avoid having these issues arise or worsen during the cold, have your coolant hoses and drive belt system inspected at every oil change. Inspect the belt for rib wear, cracking, glazing or piling. If you hear any belt noise or see any irregular belt movement, have your system inspected by a certified technician right away.
Check tires for proper inflation, tread depth.
Freezing temperatures, black ice and snow-covered roads create dangerous driving conditions. Protect one of your biggest investments with routine tire checks and pre-trip inspections. Check your pressure levels, tread depth and inspect for any visible damage or debris that could be stuck in your wheel components. If necessary, give your tires a warm wash before inspecting them, as snow can cover potential warning signs of damage.
Look for steam or melted show coming off wheel hubs, as this could indicate your wheel bearings are overheating. If you experience any vibration or unstable steering, have your tire alignment checked by a trusted service technician.
Use an engine block heater.
Depending on where your load takes you, your truck may need more equipment to withstand winter. Block heaters can help your engine reach combustion temperature, relieve stress on the engine and even reduce engine wear. Turn your block heater on at night or when the engine is off for long periods of time. To keep your block heater in top shape, have a technician complete a continuity check and make sure coolant levels are topped off.
Keep your air system dry and change air dryer cartridge.
Make sure your wheel-ends and air dryers are in top shape in order to help keep moisture, contaminants and corrosion at bay. Whether your vehicle has drum or air disc brakes, have your air tanks drained of any moisture and replace the air dryer cartridge. Proper lubrication can also help combat moisture and battle corrosion. Make sure your automatic slack adjusters are properly greased, along with any other brake components, including clevis pin connections, cam tubes, shafts and bushings.
Drain fuel water separator and change fuel filters.
Winter weather also impacts your fuel system. The combination of cold winter air and warm fuel from the engine can result in condensation, which in freezing temperatures can crystallize and clog your filters, corrode injectors and do other damage to the fuel system. Use a winter diesel blend to help slow down this moisture buildup. You should also have your service provider drain your fuel water separator and change the fuel filters routinely.
Consider using a winter fuel additive.
Cold weather causes diesel fuel to gel because of its paraffin wax properties, which are designed to improve viscosity and lubrication. Consider using a winter additive to help improve cold engine starts, prevent fuel gelling and to avoid moisture buildup in the fuel tank. If you’re still not sure which additive is right for your rig, stop into a TA Truck Service location to learn more about their benefits and shop our selection of additives.
While you can’t control the weather, you can help prepare for it by routinely servicing and inspecting these areas of your truck throughout winter. You should also consider these roadside safety tips in the event you find yourself broken down. If you find any issues during a pre-trip inspection, stop into a TA Truck Service and let one of our technicians help you get back on the road quickly.