The winter season has tightened its grip on the region. If you want to prevent annoying breakdowns, it’s important to focus on the big three systems, cranking, fuel and brakes.
Cranking system problems can be the most frustrating for a couple of reasons: they are the easiest to prevent, but can be repetitive if not properly addressed. It’s not unusual to have a truck jump started on a cold morning, just to call for service again a few days later. It’s important to keep in mind that your alternator is not meant to charge dead batteries. What it is designed to do however is to maintain already charged batteries and support your truck’s electrical loads once the engine is running.
Operating a jump started vehicle without correcting the problem will result in either the alternator will fail because it overheated trying to charge dead batteries, or once the driver turns the engine off, the engine will not crank. It’s important to always locate the root cause, and have it repaired. This will help you avoid additional costs and delays. The good news is that cranking system problems are relatively easy to diagnose and repair. Modern testing equipment gives our techs the most accurate test results and is less stressful on the battery. The same testing equipment can be used to check the cables, connections and alternator performance.
Fuel system defects are major contributors to winter breakdowns. As your fuel gets colder, the wax in the fuel starts to reform and slows or prevents fuel from flowing. To add to that, any water in the fuel system will freeze. That may starve the fuel system and cause poor performance, it could also cause the engine to not run at all. To avoid this, be sure your fuel heaters are operable and your fuel-water separator is hooked up correctly and functioning as designed. Some fuel-water separators are heated in the winter by engine coolant that is routed to them via heater hoses. If your engine is running too cold, you are most likely to have more severe fuel freeze ups and/or fuel gelling.
Brake systems are prone to freeze ups. When the temperature drops below freezing, any moisture will freeze and restrict or prevent airflow within the brake system. This will likely result in a service call and could take quite some time to correct. To help keep moisture in your air system to a minimum, be sure your air-dryer filter is replaced per the manufacturer’s recommendation. Additionally, be conscious of an excessive amount of moisture coming from your wet tank when drained daily. If you add deicing agents to your air system, be certain to pour them down stream from the air dryer. The moisture-absorbing material in the air dryer can only hold so much, so if added upstream, the deicing chemicals will over-saturate the air dryer and eliminate its capability to dry the air.
If you haven’t done so, take the time to implement some preventative maintenance by having your cranking, fuel and brake system inspected before winter stops you and your truck.