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Preparing your trucks and trailers for winter

It's hard to believe fall is nearly over and winter will soon be setting in. It's time to prepare ourselves and our equipment for a season that is sure to bring cold temperatures and plenty of snow.


It’s hard to believe fall is nearly over and winter will soon be setting in. It’s time to prepare ourselves and our equipment for a season that is sure to bring cold temperatures and plenty of snow.

The engine: Test the antifreeze strength and make sure it’s good to temperatures of -50 C. Pressure-test your cooling system to ensure there are no leaks. You should inspect and tighten all hoses, clamps and belts. Check all your fluid levels and inspect your filters, replacing them if required.

You should also test your oil pan and engine block heaters and inspect the turbo. Also check and inspect all engine sensors, wiring and connectors.

Test your Jake brake and other engine components as well as all gauges and toggle switches.

Don’t forget to test your thermostatic fan.

Electrical system: Moving on to the electrical system, load test the alternator, batteries, starter, lights, heater, defrost and wipers. Clean the battery terminals and cables and check the fluid levels in the batteries.

Inspect all electrical cables, wires, harnesses, connectors and sensors and also check all in-cab toggle switches. Test your CB and VHF radio antennas.

Air system: You should also test the air compressor pressure buildup time and make sure it builds up to 110 psi within the specified time.

Inspect all belts, filters, air lines and connections, the air tank and drain valves. Pressure up the air system to detect any leaks.

Air intake system: Inspect your air filter and change it if required. Check and inspect the air cleaner canister and bonnet-top seal as well as air cleaner nuts and bolts to ensure a proper seal.

Inspect all the air cleaner intake ducting and ensure all clamps are tight and that the full system is sealed properly with no leaks. Pressure test the air-to-air system to ensure there are no leaks and that the full system is sealed.

Fuel system: Test the injectors and check the fuel lines for leaks. You should also check the fuel tanks for leaks, test the fuel equalizer valve and replace the fuel filter if necessary.

Pressure test the complete fuel system, including the fuel tanks, to ensure there are no leaks.

Brakes: Pressure test the entire system to ensure there are no air leaks. Check to ensure brakes are properly adjusted and inspect the brake shoe linings and drum thickness to ensure they are compliant and within spec’.

Inspect slack adjusters and pads and test for any leaks with the brakes applied. Inspect all air valves to ensure they are working properly and there are no leaks.

Inspect all air lines and connectors and fittings to ensure there are no leaks and if there are any signs of wear or chaffing, replace them accordingly.

Tires and rims: Check your tire tread depth with a tire tread depth gauge and inspect tires for cuts and irregular wear.

Your tires should have no more than 20% wear.

If they are worn by more than 20%, your tires may not make it through the winter without needing replacement.

Check the tire manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure. (This will vary depending on the manufacturer).

Test the tire pressure with a calibrated tire pressure gauge.

If the temperature is above zero degrees celcius, do your pressure test cold.

If the temperature is below -5 C, check the tire pressure after at least 20 miles so the tires are warm.

Make sure you are using the right tires for your application and the region where you are running. Check your tires for screws, bolts, nails and other foreign objects.

Remove any objects and then check for leaks. I use a spray bottle with a 20/80 mix of detergent to water. Just spray the area where you removed the object and if bubbles appear, you will have to repair the tire.

Inspect wheels for cracks and damage and check the wheel nut holes to ensure they have not come loose. Make sure all holes are round -not oblong. If they have been run with loose nuts, the area behind the wheel nut will have a freshly scratched-up surface.

Torque all wheel nuts to recommended spec’s.

Tire chains: Put your tire chains on your tires to ensure they fit properly and no repairs are required. Practice putting them on and taking them off until you can do them up efficiently.

Hang them on your chain hangers and secure them with tarp straps to keep them from flopping around. If you do all this before you need them, you will know they are in good order and you won’t look like an idiot struggling to chain up on the hill!

Now you’re ready to hit the road. Next month, I’ll share some tips on how to safely operate your equipment in winter weather.

-Ron Singer is owner of Ron Singer Truck Lines and president of the Alberta Construction Trucking Association. He can be reached at 403-244-4487 or by e-mail at ronsing@telus.net.ACTA’s Web site is www.myacta.ca.


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