Part II: Getting Your Truck Ready for Winter
Winter will be here before you know it and unfortunately, like a lot of people, trucks don’t particularly like cold temperatures. Metal parts, fluids and coolants just don’t move as they should when they are cold. Additionally, freezing moisture can decrease braking power and the cooling system doesn’t do much better. Metal actually contracts the lower the temperature gets so hose clamps get loose, which leads to leaks. There are however steps you can take that will help you avoid costly downtime as well as your maintenance costs.
Keep the Power Going
Good winter preparation programs should focus on your vehicle’s cranking and charging systems. Be sure to get your batteries load-tested before the cold to ensure they will be able to handle the demand required to turn on a diesel engine over during cold starts. Also, it’s a good idea to keep the lights shining through those extra hours of darkness. Have your cables voltage drop-tested to ensure no hidden corrosion goes unnoticed.
A detailed visual inspection of all components will help you spot corroded or loose connections that may need to be addressed. Also, check for belts that are slipping due to excessive wear.
It’s extremely important that the belts be in great working condition, otherwise your alternator will slip, preventing the batteries from operating at a full charge. Not only will this keep your vehicle from cranking, but the alternator front bearing may overheat which can cost you an alternator.
Don’t Get Wet
Moisture doesn’t evaporate in the cold; it freezes. This is an issue since it can lead to serious problems in your brake system. An additional emphasis on the air drier is good practice. This key part cleans and conditions the air that goes into the wet tank, where compressed air for the brakes is stored. An air dryer that is not performing as it should can let that moisture build up and cause the air pressure gauge to read full even though it doesn’t contain enough air volume to operate the truck safely. The dryer desiccant cartridge should be replaced according to the manufacturer’s recommendation or if you notice excessive moisture in your wet tank during pre-trip inspection.
To Cold to Cool Off
Lastly, we cannot forget the cooling system. If you get your coolant hose clamps inspected and tightened, you will be sure to experience fewer cold water leaks and avoid costly breakdowns due to engine shutdown. It’s important your cooling system be pressure-tested to include your radiator cap. Having the right amount of pressure on the cooling system is critical to controlling the heat load of the engine. A technician should inspect the condition of the coolant to include its additive package. Often times forgotten but certainly important is the condition of your cabin filter. If you want clean, comfortable air from your heating system, the cabin filter needs to be clean.
These steps are part of a standard winterization process, and are very effective throughout the season. They can keep your truck on the road and lower your maintenance costs.