It’s that time of year when a trucker can find him or herself stuck in a snowstorm tomorrow. As the weather starts to cool off, if you are an owner-operator should have in mind that winterizing your truck is an essential best practice for preventing traffic accidents and ensuring load transportation safety during the most hazardous time of the year.
With this said, Matrix trucks have prepared a truck winterizing list of tips. We also have a bonus tip for (unusual) cheap alternatives for winterizing your truck.
Know the weather conditions
Common-sense precautions can make driving in bad weather a bit safer.
Knowing the road and weather conditions ahead of you is one of the most important winter preparations tips.
- Use a smartphone app – WeatherBug or Weather Underground are good for this purpose
- Use websites that provide state road reports – safetravelusa.com is a good option.
- Radio is still pretty useful for checking on road conditions and accidents.
Prepare Fuel and Brakes
To be sure the fuel filter is in good condition, check it and replace it if necessary. Water is a common contaminant in the fuel tank due to the condensation and humidity during the summer. Check water separators, and drain excess to prevent freezing.
The water should be removed from the air brakes too, in order to avoid freeze-ups. To do so, replace or double-check your air dryers and add a brake conditioner. Cooling system problems in the winter can cause complete engine failure and the need for replacement. Don’t forget to check them as well!
Check The Battery
The best time to check the age and condition of your battery is just before winter settles in. Freezing temperatures drain battery life quickly. Replace your battery if it’s close to the end of its life—most truck batteries usually last two to three years. If it’s in a good condition, inspect the battery to make sure it is securely mounted and that all connections are tightened and clean. Inspect the electrical wiring for any damage or frays, and make sure there are no loose or exposed wires. Check your truck’s jumper cables to ensure they can hold and share a charge.
Install fresh wiper blades.
The smallest things can keep you safe when driving. Choosing blades that have the rubberized boot, helps prevent snow and ice buildup. Beam-style blades are also a good option! Invest in quality blades and don’t buy cheap ones! You don’t want to replace a blade that fell apart in bad weather.
Unusual tip: Squeak-proof your wipers with rubbing alcohol! Wipe them with a cloth saturated with rubbing alcohol or ammonia in order to avoid squeaking or streaks that make them hard to see.
Prepare an Emergency Kit
No matter how prepared you try to be, you will be caught someplace without something that you want or need. Make sure you have adequate survival supplies in your truck, including:
- Extra blankets
- First aid kit
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Canned food and bottled water
- Snow boots
- Snow shovel
- Dot Compliant Flares
- Extra coolant, washer fluid, engine oil
- Extra fuel filter and fuel filter wrench
- Tire chains
- Jumper cables
- Battery Banks
- Defrosting Spray
Install an Engine Heater
Some trucks are considerably more difficult to start in cold weather. If you travel or live in a cold climate, you may want to consider installing an electric block heater to keep the engine warm while it’s turned off. Heaters also prevent the need for truck idling (to keep the engine or interiors warm), reduce your fuel consumption, and lessen your truck’s pollution. Furthermore, they reduce wear on engine life and reduce cold starts that can damage batteries and starters.
Prepare the Windshield
When snow and ice accumulate on the windshield, it makes driving difficult and dangerous. Proper windshield defrosting and cleaning help prevent windshield damage. Make sure your windshield wiper fluid is filled and that you have switched to a cold-temperature blend.
Unusual tip: Fog-Proof your windshield with shaving cream! It creates a protective film on the glass that prevents fogging.
Check the Tires
Inspect your tires thoroughly and make sure they are inflated to the proper pressure rating. If during the tire inspections the driver starts to notice circumferential cutting, chunking, spin damage, or tearing, these could be signs the tires are experiencing low traction conditions. Make sure to follow the chain manufacturer’s instructions for properly mounting the chains with the correct type and size to ensure safe operations. Inspect the chains for worn, twisted, or damaged links and replace them when needed.
Some unusual Tips for winterizing your truck
We came across some other tips that are really simple, inexpensive, and unusual :
- Ice-proof your windows with vinegar– Just fill a spray bottle with three parts vinegar to one part water and spray it on all your truck windows at night. In the morning, they’ll be clear of icy mess!
- Keep your headlights clear of slush, snow, and road salt with car wax -: Just wipe ordinary car wax on your headlights and the protection will last for weeks.
- Prevent car doors from freezing shut with cooking spray– Spray cooking spray on the rubber seals around car doors and rub it in with a paper towel. The oils in cooking spray prevent water from melting into the rubber and protect it from freezing.
- De-Ice your lock in seconds with hand sanitizer- With the Covid-19 situation, most of us have in handy hand sanitizers. They contain alcohol, which is the main ingredient in most commercial de-icers. Just put some hand sanitizer gel on the key and lock. The problem with getting your key in the lock is now solved!
- Get unstuck from the snow with your floor mat – In case you’ve forgotten to take sand in your trunk to use for traction if you get stuck on ice, don’t panic! Just stick the rubber side of one of your floor mats under the spinning tire. This will provide the grip you need to get going!
Finally, the end goal is for the truck drivers to stay safe out there this winter! Winterizing your truck is the key to reaching it!