Getting Your Truck Ready for the Harsh Winter

Professional truck drivers have to deal with all kinds of elements while being on the road. The most taxing elements on a vehicle and driver are the winter months and all the brutalness that comes with it in the form of snow, sleet and cold. With fall upon us that only means one thing, winter is right around the corner. It’s important to make sure that your rig is ready for the rigors of yet another cold winter. Here are some tips that will allow you to get the most out of your truck during the cold months.

Check the oil grade of your truck

Most trucks operate on 15W-40 oil. While that’s fine for most temperatures, but is truly best in moderate to hot climates. Once the temperatures get into the teens and single digits, typical oil loses its effectiveness. If you drive anywhere temperatures drop it’s a good idea to switch to a 10W-40 grade oil for winter. Depending on the area, the best time to use this type of oil is from November through March.

Check the coolant

Measure the amount of coolant and water in your rig to be sure the mix is the correct blend. If not, you could see a couple issues pop up. You can either see a cracked cylinder block or your antifreeze coolant will freeze and prevent your truck from starting. Be sure your engine is running with a 50/50 coolant and water concentration, which is the ideal concentration for cold weather.

Get a diesel fuel additive

If you are driving your truck in the harshest of winter conditions, this tip/trick is for you. When driving in these harsh conditions where temperatures are well below freezing, the diesel in your truck can actually gel and become unusable. This is a much more common occurrence when driving from warm weather into cold weather because the fuel you might get in a warmer state doesn’t have the same requirements that fuel in colder states have. To combat this, a fuel additive can keep the diesel liquid and usable no matter where you drive.

Invest in an engine heater

Starting up your truck in the dead of winter can be a challenge. Many truckers let their truck idle however with the different regulations, not to mention the added cost, idling might not be the best option. If you want to get the most out of your truck and make it last longer, invest in an engine warmer that surrounds the engine. This helps to heat the coolant and the oil that’s necessary for a smooth start. It also relieves the stress for the engine on a cold day.

Here are 7 additional tips you should check to be sure your truck is ready for the cold:

  1. Make certain that batteries are of sufficient size and in fully charged condition. Check that all other electrical equipment is in optimum condition.

  2. Use permanent type engine antifreeze solution to protect against damage by freezing.

  3. At the end of each daily operation, drain water from fuel/water separator (if equipped).

  4. Fill fuel tank at end of daily operation to prevent condensation in fuel tank.

  5. Be sure to use proper cold weather lubricating oil, and be sure crankcase is at proper level.

  6. At temperatures of 20F and below, it is recommended that you use an engine block mounted coolant heater to improve cold starting.

  7. If operating in arctic temperatures of -20F or lower, consult your International Truck dealer for information about special cold weather precautions.


When you’re on the road, be sure not only you are safe, but you are responsible and keeping others safe. If you’re in a snowstorm, it’s important to keep your flashers on so others can see you. But the biggest piece of advice is to keep an eye on the weather and be careful. If you want to keep your truck on the road longer and running as efficient as possible, go through your own checklist and be sure your truck is ready for the cold.


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