Baby, it's about to get cold outside.Real cold.Damn cold.Such is the promise of a Canadian winter. And while our trucks might have to be spec'd to deal with such things as heavier weights, Canadian tr...
Such is the promise of a Canadian winter. And while our trucks might have to be spec’d to deal with such things as heavier weights, Canadian truckers should also lend a special eye to seasonal maintenance needs.
This is probably the best time of year to check the quality of the coolant that’s pulsing through the radiator. At the very least, you might want to consider a fresh load of Supplemental Coolant Additives.
And reconsider the standard 50/50 mixture of antifreeze if you’re hauling goods in particularly cold weather. While that will work for temperatures down to about -30 Celsius, you might want to increase the proportion of antifreeze to 68 per cent if you’re running in colder climes.
Water is an enemy for your air system at the best of times, but whereas biological contaminants are more likely to be the threat in the summer, you’re biggest threat in colder weather is the ice that can form in your air-braking system.
Keep a bottle of methyl hydrate on hand, so you can pour it into your gladhands to free up frozen air brake lines.
Meanwhile, if you’re finding water when you drain the wet tank, the air dryer probably needs a new filter.
At the best of times, water in the fuel lines can affect fuel efficiency or deposit rust inside your fuel pump. Consider installing a fuel/water separator in the fuel line. Superior versions will even incorporate a fuel heater.
If you already have such a component (they’re common on late-model trucks) there’s probably a sight glass that will indicate if it needs to be drained.
Your options for avoiding the so-called waxing of fuel – a gelling that occurs in the coldest of cold – include the spec’ing of fuel heaters or, at the very least, a supply of fuel conditioners.
Fully charged batteries can freeze at -5 Celsius, so a battery blanket is a good investment. At the very least, consider adding some insulation to the battery box, but ensure that you don’t cover the top of the batteries. That will cause them to overheat.
Don’t wait until the first cold spell to check the condition of supplemental or OEM heaters. It’s been many months since the blower had to pump heat into your cab. Such a check should involve an examination of electrical connections, to ensure that they haven’t corroded, and check to see that the vents are clear, belts are tight and the heater hoses haven’t dried out and cracked.
If you’ve noticed your tires approaching retreading depth, now is the time to replace them for newer rubber that will grip snow and ice. With proper planning, you can set up your tire-replacement program to introduce new tires every fall.
Be prepared to button up with a winter front to keep the cold air from cutting through the grill. You’ll probably need one at any temperature below -20 Celsius, but leave enough of the radiator exposed so that your electronic engine isn’t starved for air.
Not all oils are created equal, especially when it comes to their pour qualities in cold weather. A 15W-40 may be fine for the summer, but a 0W-30 is a better bet if you’re hauling freight through Saskatoon. (As a primer, the first number describes how well the oil will pour in the extreme cold. The lower numbers will remain more fluid. The second number in the designation will indicate how well the oil will protect your engine at high temperatures.)
Synthetic versions of modern-day lubricants have the best cold weather properties, but be prepared to pay a premium price for the commodity.
And don’t forget the lubes in all of your drivetrain components.
Don’t wait for slush to congeal around your frame. This is the best time of year to power wash the truck and check for hairline cracks that can form in everything from mounting brackets to spring suspensions. Hoses should also be checked. They may be flexible enough to seal hairline cracks in the summer, but they’ll break wide open once the colder weather hits. n
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