Tips for cold weather survival
The days shorten, temperatures drop precipitously and you know winter is near. People need to bundle up, watch out for icy roads and pavements, and indulge in a cup of hot cocoa, or maybe a hot toddy. Fine-tuned machinery also needs special winter care to keep it running. We have gathered some tips to keep your machinery purring even in the coldest of winters.
1. Dead battery
- Cold weather is especially hard on truck batteries. At -20 degrees Celcius, a battery loses about 60 percent of its strength and at 0 degrees it loses 35 percent. Starting an engine in freezing temperatures can use up to twice as much current as needed under normal conditions. While battery degradation occurs considerably faster in hot weather, the high starting load in cold weather is when batteries typically fail.
- Test the battery and keep the connections clean.
2. Frozen fuel lines & filters
- Cold weather operability can be a problem. Equipment often won't start in very cold weather, and when it does the engine might kick out in the middle of a job. The cause is usually solidification or ice formation in the fuel as temperatures drop. Excess water in the fuel can form ice crystals that may block filters and pipes and prevent fuel flow. Hydrocarbons also become solid at their freezing point, turning into a thick, waxy substance that blocks the filters.
- Service the fuel filter, and drain the water separator to prevent freezing.
3. DEF system
- The freezing point of DEF is 12F (-11C), so it is likely to freeze in many northern locales, but should thaw under normal operation within 45 minutes, as virtually all medium-duty trucks emissions systems are designed to accommodate this.
- Periodic checks for any system leaks are an important part of getting ready for winter.
4. Check coolant for proper protection levels
- Change the coolant as specified by the manufacturer, which is typically at 24 months. If coolant has passed the expiry date, the system should be flushed and the coolant replaced.
- Check glow plug/intake manifold heater operation.
- Check all belts and hoses, and replace as necessary.
6. Ensure traction
- Check tire condition and make sure the tread thickness is correct for winter driving. Ensure tyres are properly inflated.
- Check ABS operation at the start of the winter season, even if this requires a variance from the regular brake maintenance schedule.
- For pneumatic brake systems an air dryer is worth its weight in gold. In colder climates, water can freeze in the valves and cause serious problems with the operation of your air brake system. Air dryer maintenance is imperative. Now, before winter sets in, is the perfect time to service your air dryer filter.
7. Don't forget the driver
- Check the heater/defroster, including the function/position of the directional vanes in the system to assure proper defrosting.