Winter is inevitable- it will arrive, whether we like it or not. Trucks and fleets across the nation will face challenges from the cold temperatures, snow, and ice. The time to prepare is now. To help you get ready for the severe weather ahead, we're providing 8 tips for your vehicle's electronics, air systems, and wheel ends.
1. Take a look at your tires
Your vehicle's tires are the only point of contact with the road, whether you're speeding on a racetrack, running errands, or navigating snowy roads. Tires are the key component of your vehicle's safety system. Using the wrong type of tire for road conditions, having insufficient tread depth, or improper inflation can all be dangerous.
Did you know that tire pressure is highly impacted by temperature? For every 10-degree drop in temperature, your tires can lose 1 to 2 pounds of pressure. This can mean a loss of up to 8 PSI in areas like Texas, where summer temperatures often reach over 100 and winter temperatures drop to around 60. To ensure proper tire pressure, it's recommended to check it every four months or whenever the average temperature changes. You can find the recommended PSI on the placard inside the driver's door jamb or in your vehicle's owner's manual.
2. Finish up all vehicle maintenance
Aside from checking your tires, there are other steps you can take to prepare your truck for winter and cold weather driving. One of these is to switch to synthetic engine oil during your next service appointment. Synthetic oil provides better lubrication and protection, and it flows more easily at low temperatures. For example, it can prevent metal-to-metal contact when the temperature is as low as 5 degrees (-15C). Improved oil flow reduces the risk of being stranded with a dead battery, making it easier to start the engine.
3. Check fluid levels
Be sure to check and refill all fluid levels, especially the washer fluid. Refilling the washer reservoir is easy. We recommend using a washer fluid rated for -40 degrees and specifically formulated for winter weather. For optimal results, empty the reservoir if it was previously filled with water before adding winter fluid. If you're familiar with trucks, you can also check the coolant and brake fluid levels (when the engine is cold). If this work is beyond your expertise, any garage or repair facility can assist you.
4. Examine the lighting systems
The amount of daylight we receive each day decreases significantly in the winter. Adequate lighting is crucial for the safety of your car or truck, given the increasing darkness. Ask a friend or family member to check the headlights, brake lights, and turn signals to make sure everything is functioning properly before the weather gets too cold. Replace any burned-out bulbs immediately.
Some people upgrade their headlights for increased visibility. There are many great options for HID and LED bulbs. Make sure to choose a bulb that is specifically designed to fit the type of lens assembly in your truck. Using LED bulbs in reflector-style light assemblies can be dangerous for other drivers on the road, as they may not function correctly and could cause glare. Keep in mind that for a system to be legal in headlights, the bulbs must be DOT and FMVSS108 compliant.
5. Prepare supplies and equipment for emergencies
Being prepared for anything is key and having an emergency kit on hand can be a life saver. We recommend including a first aid kit, flashlight, extra pairs of socks and gloves, jumper cables, plastic shopping bags, flashlight, whistle, energy bars with long-lasting energy, and a warning light or road flares. Having a small shovel and a rope of suitable length can also be valuable and may even save your life in case you get stuck in a rural ditch. You can either assemble these items yourself or purchase a ready-made kit from a local hardware or outdoor supply store.
6. Obtain a battery test
Cold weather can be tough on truck batteries, as their ability to store energy and deliver current decreases rapidly in freezing temperatures. To ensure your battery is up for the challenge, have it tested with an electronic tester by a garage or truck stereo specialist in November, as the weather starts to drop. This will give you an idea of whether your battery can still start your truck in extreme cold, such as -20 or -30 degrees.
7. Invest in a better truck for more comfort and convenience
For improved comfort in extremely cold weather, consider adding a remote starter to your truck. Starting your vehicle a few minutes prior to your departure will give it time to warm up and provide a more comfortable driving experience.
8. Check air brake housings
Ensure that dust plugs are installed correctly and inspect for any damage that could allow corrosive elements to penetrate. Prevent rust from forming by taking precautions in areas that are most vulnerable to harsh conditions.
By following these tips, you can guarantee a smooth winter for your truck and avoid any potential issues.