Truckers have a lot to worry about when winter arrives, and thinking about those problems can conjure images of driving through heavy snow or dealing with sub-freezing temperatures overnight. However, there are many more mundane and mechanical issues truckers face because of the season's harsh, frigid weather, and drivers must be vigilant to ensure their vehicles remain in good working order throughout the winter months.
The following tips should help you do just that on an ongoing basis:
1) Check your coolant system
When the mercury dips below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, risks start to rise for your engine, according to Overdrive. For that reason, some of the things you should do before the truly frigid temps arrive is check your coolant system for leaks, top off your fluid levels and otherwise do preventive maintenance that helps ensure you'll avoid a breakdown due to a frozen engine. Along similar lines, also make sure you have an extra bottle or two of coolant on hand just in case you need to top off your lines.
2) Think about battery life
Cold air can wreak havoc on a battery's ability to hold a charge, and that's especially true of older batteries that have given you a lot of life over the years, Overdrive said. If your battery is past three years old, you might just want to change it if you're expecting to encounter particularly cold weather this winter, but even if it's slightly newer than that, test it and make sure it's in good working order before you hit the road.
3) Stock up on fuel additives
If you're new to trucking, you might be surprised to find that there's a real possibility diesel can freeze in the winter, according to Fleet Equipment. This is due to a chemical in diesel fuel that can crystallize in particularly cold weather, and as you might expect, that does a real number on your truck. With that having been said, whether that's new information or you're a long-time pro driver, it's important to pack fuel additives that eliminate the chance fuel will freeze in your tank. It's also a good idea to make sure you always have extra on hand, just in case.
4) Pack an emergency tool kit
Finally, it's critical that your trusty toolbox has plenty of stuff that will help you out of a tight, winter-specific jam, according to ATBS. That could include a set of tire chains that will allow you to gain traction in tough conditions, flares to help make yourself more visible if you have to pull over to the side of a relatively small road and so on. Even if this kind of effort greatly increases the amount of stuff you have to carry with you on any given trip, it's better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.
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