In the winter, practicing truck maintenance is more important than ever. Not only does the colder weather increase your risk of repair issues, but your drivers don’t want to find themselves broken down along the road in the snow or freezing rain.
You should focus on five areas as a part of your routine truck maintenance: batteries, coolant, air dryer filter, exhaust system and aftertreatment harnesses. Follow these tips to care for your fleet in the winter and prevent costly, unplanned downtime.
Prefer to watch a video? Click here to watch tips with our Peterbilt Atlantic Pro Coach Shawn Warman.
1. Check Your Battery Condition And Battery Cables
When trucks don’t start in the winter, batteries are often the number one culprit. Batteries lose capacity with age and in cold weather.
In the fall, you should:
- Disconnect all batteries
- Check and clean all cables
- Load test each battery
Consider replacing all of your batteries even if only one or two are bad, but especially if most are more than three years old.
2. Check Coolant For Proper Strength And Hoses For Leaks Or Damage
Having the proper concentration of antifreeze is always critical, but in the winter your concentration is even more important because it protects the coolant system from gelling or freezing. The repair costs associated with this problem are potentially huge.
Check your trucks’ coolant levels daily. You should also have your service centre check your antifreeze concentration for a level of freeze protection at -37 degrees C. In most cases, a 50/50 mix of coolant and antifreeze provides sufficient protection.
3. Replace The Air Dryer Filter If It’s More Than A Year Old
A properly functioning air dryer is critical in the cold weather because moisture can freeze up air brake components and leave your drivers stranded.
Most Peterbilt trucks feature an easy-to-replace, spin-on air dryer filter, which should be replaced every year in Atlantic Canada’s and eastern Quebec’s harsh climate.
You should also check the power and ground supply to the air dryer heater. It’s important to have constant 12-volt power to the dryer heater connection. It’s easy to check and it will save you a lot of headaches. On a cold day, you want to ensure the air pressure is able to build up in the brake system.
4. Check Engine Intake And Exhaust System For Leaks And Repair Issues
Exhaust systems are more complex nowadays, and even small leaks or repair issues in piping, gaskets and clamps can cause major problems.
Thoroughly check the exhaust from the engine all the way to the furthest components in your truck to ensure no leaks exist. Keeping the heat inside the exhaust system in cold weather is important for it to perform properly.
5. Ensure Aftertreatment Harnesses Are Securely Routed And Tied Up
Aftertreatment harnesses are routed under the truck and back to the exhaust system. In the winter, they’re exposed to extreme temperatures, road spray and an overall harsh environment. Make sure they’re routed and tied securely to prevent wiring damage.
By following these five tips, you’ll reduce your risk of breakdowns and expensive, unplanned trips to your service centre for emergency truck repairs.
Routine preventive maintenance helps you accelerate your fleet’s uptime, giving your drivers more time to run routes, deliver to customers and earn revenue for your business.