Preparing your truck for the challenges of winter weather is crucial as the colder months approach. We have you covered on the key aspects of winter truck maintenance, including addressing moisture concerns in the air system and ensuring the reliability of your electrical components. To help you with this, we have included a helpful checklist at the bottom of this blog that you can print off each season.
THE AIR SYSTEM
Moisture in compressed air can wreak havoc when it meets cold steel air tanks, brass fittings, hoses, and valves. To prevent potential issues, drivers need to drain each air tank daily, with special attention given to the wet tank designed to eliminate moisture before it enters the system.
Additionally, ensuring that the air system plumbing is free from kinks, restrictions, or low points prone to freezing is crucial. Addressing any problems arising from the old air compressor’s slobbery or oil-spitting tendencies promptly can prevent oil buildup in air lines and brake valves.
Following the maintenance intervals recommended by air dryer manufacturers, checking the purge valve heater in the air dryer’s functionality, and considering switching to twist-open drain cocks for the air tanks are all vital steps to keep moisture away from the brake valves.
REVIEW OF STARTING AND CHARGING PARTS
The winter season can also take a toll on your truck’s electrical systems. Continuous use of lights, mirror heaters, heater fans, and inverters can lead to insufficient battery recharging, leaving you with weakened batteries during most of the winter.
To address this, it’s wise to perform load testing on your batteries now and replace any faulty ones. Consider the specific application when selecting replacements; highway trucks relying on inverters need batteries with high reserve capacities. Deep-cycle batteries may sacrifice some cold cranking amps (CCA) for starting power, but a reliable charging system and secure connections can make up for it.
For local trucks with frequent start-stop cycles, prioritize batteries with high CCA. Test the alternator and starter output, inspect wiring connections, and check ground connections for signs of corrosion.
Replace any questionable cables and connectors, and don’t forget to clean battery terminal posts and apply a coat of dielectric grease. Lastly, assess the condition of the trailer pigtail to avoid potential ABS or lighting violations.
INSPECTION OF CHASSIS AND CAB
Water inevitably finds its way into fuel tanks, so wait until the tanks are running low before checking for water accumulation. Drain any moisture promptly to prevent freezing within the fuel lines.
Enhance winter preparedness by replacing fuel filters and storing a spare fuel filter and a bottle of air-line antifreeze in the jockey box. Don’t forget to inspect the cables to ensure they’re securely fastened and not in contact with the frame or other metal components, which can lead to insulation damage, shorts, or moisture penetration.
TIRES AND COLD WEATHER
Cold weather can affect your tires as the air inside them becomes denser and takes up less space, leading to a decrease in tire pressure. Regularly check your tire pressure, especially before starting your journey during extremely cold weather. Be cautious of the potential freezing of moisture in the valve as it escapes into the tire gauge.
For those considering tire replacement, plan for it in the fall, as colder weather promotes even tire wear and provides improved traction from deeper tread.
Prioritizing truck maintenance is crucial for a safe and efficient journey. From the air system and electrical components to the integrity of your tires, we have provided a comprehensive guide to winter truck maintenance. By following these steps, you can better prepare your truck to handle the unique challenges of winter. Stay proactive, stay safe, and stay confidently on the road, regardless of the weather conditions.
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