This week's intense, sub-zero winter weather across much of North America, presents special challenges to truck drivers. You can’t prevent or ignore temperatures below zero, ice, snow, sleet, deicing chemicals. You can however spend time before bad weather sets in getting your trucks ready for winter’s onslaught and then pay extra attention to a few specific areas during the winter. If you follow these tips, winter is likely to be less harsh for you.
Here are a few things you can do before winter to get your fleet ready.
- Service air dryers and drain air tanks. Moisture is a killer, especially in winter when temperatures drop.
- Test batteries, starting system and charging system. Batteries show wear and tear in the winter but most of the damage happens in the summer months.
- Check block heater operation. Actually plug it in to ensure it is working properly.
- Check pre-heaters, ultra capacitors and other things meant to help trucks start. Make sure that they are working and are ready to go. Also confirm that drivers understand how they work. All of the best technology will not make a difference if the operator doesn’t understand it.
- Evaluate condition of wipers. Simple items that can have a huge impact on safety and driver stress. Make sure that they are ready to go for the demands they are about to face.
Even if you have done a good job preparing your vehicles for winter, you still need to pay special attention to a few key items during the winter:
- Get correctly blended fuel to prevent waxing. Carry fuel additives if and when temperatures drop below 20° F.
- Plug in the block heater, even when it feels warm outside
- Keep vehicles running, not idling. Uncontrolled idling 2007 and newer engine equipped units should not happen and will wreak havoc on a fleet and the emissions systems.
- Remember that diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) begins to freeze at 32° F. Operating the truck will circulate the DEF and keep it from freezing in the fuel lines.
- Check your tires often. Good tread and properly inflated tires will help prevent breakdowns and accidents. If you run in areas that require chains, ensure that they are serviceable, that proper chain storage is available, and that drivers know how to safely use them.
Don't forget these components
Some components need a little extra TLC in the winter. Make sure your technicians and drivers periodically check the following areas:
- Coolant hoses and belts
- Door locks
- Fuel and air filters
- Fluid levels
- Wiper blades
To ensure that you and your trucks survive winter, understand what is going on in the area where you operate, have a plan in place for what to do before and during winter, and respond accordingly to the plan.