Trucks are, as everybody knows, pretty tough vehicles. They are on the road for hours on end and in all weathers. However, this does not mean they are impervious to everything the road can throw at them, and it certainly doesn’t mean that any trucker can set off without the proper preparation. Of all seasons, it is the winter which presents the most challenges.
Just as to all types of vehicles, the roads during the wintertime present unique obstacles for trucks. Unlike other vehicles though, the consequences of failing to prepare properly are severe. There is quite a difference between a small hatchback skidding a little on some black ice and a 45-ton truck doing the same thing. Failing to prepare your truck for the winter is as perilous as neglecting to use tie-down straps for cargo or changing a flat tire.
Trucks in Winter
Low temperatures and the generally harsh winter conditions can play havoc with many parts and functions of a truck. It’s hard on any vehicle, but the sheer amount of time a truck spends on the road only magnifies the perils.
There’s also the value of the cargo to take into consideration, as well as the aforementioned great weight of any cargo truck. The makers of Rollercam tie down straps advise that winter preparation for trucks doesn’t begin just before a truck sets off on a cold winter’s day. Rather, there is a winter checklist that should be adhered to as soon as the season begins to change – as well as much advice about how to actually drive when out on the winter roads.
Here follows then some of the things you should be sure to account for when the leaves start falling from trees:
Avoid Cold Soaks
A cold soak is when a truck engine’s fluids and metal components are dropped due to the inclement weather. This usually means that the engine has been inactive for more than a day. Accordingly, you should make sure such an extended period of engine inactivity does not occur if the truck is exposed to the cold weather. Either park it somewhere warm or do not leave it inactive for so long.
Check Tires and Tire Pressure
This is something you should be doing at any time of year but the dangers of neglecting this tip are especially severe in the winter time. Furthermore, the cold temperatures can actually have a gradual effect on tire pressure, reducing it more quickly than when the weather is warm. With low tire pressure, the life of the treads is reduced, and your fuel economy is adversely affected. These are dangers to your personal safety as well as the functionality of your vehicle on the roads.
Use an Engine Block Heater
Below a certain temperature, you really need to start doing things to combat the cold. One of the best ideas is to install an engine block heater. Oil gets thick and gooey in cold weather so without a heater your truck might not even start.
Check the Lights
Again, do this at any time of year but in winter faulty lights can be disastrous when the snow and fog hit. Without functional lights, you might also fail to notice that black ice on the road.
Check the Battery
Your battery is another thing adversely effected by the cold. Extremes of either hot or cold will cause a battery to run down quicker – significantly so if the temperatures are extreme enough. You cannot neglect this.
Ultimately, winter truck maintenance is essential, and it should be performed on a seasonal basis – but also regularly throughout the course of the winter.