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It’s beginning to look a lot like….

A roadside service call.

Yep, it’s winter, the favored season for forced downtime and late freight. While we’re still lacking any snow accumulation as of yet (praise God for that one), we’ve already been subjected to freezing temps; and freezing temps alone are enough to cause problems for any fleet.

If you haven’t winter-prepped your fleet, yesterday was the day to start. And if you didn’t start yesterday, well go ahead and start the game plan today, eh? For today’s post though, we asked three of our most seasoned technicians for their advice for your drivers during these brutal winter months. Feel free to forward this post onto them. It will save you some cash this winter. Here’s what they had to say:

winter truck maintenance

  1. Familiarize yourself with your equipment during your pre-trip.
    •  Make note of your tire size when you’re checking your PSI and tread depth.  If you blow a tire in nasty weather, yes, we will make you go outside and check the tire size so we can bring one to replace it. (I know, we’re cruel like that.)
    • Know what you’re driving and what sort of engine it has. If we need to come and repair your truck, the fastest way to get you back on the road is to make sure we have everything we need for your particular truck before we even leave the shop.
  2. Carry a set of winter gear items and a heavy blanket. We’ve pulled up to more drivers than we can count from down south, who leave home not planning on breaking down, and not appropriately dressed for the seasons. Bring warm pants, a sweatshirt/sweater, coat, hat, boots, gloves, etc.
  3. Rubbing alcohol is NOT antifreeze! Not only does alcohol dry out plastic valves and seals and potentially cause them to crack/break, but rubbing alcohol contains a small percentage of…. wait for it…. WATER! And guess what happens when that alcohol evaporates and your equipment sits in freezing temps again? Oh yeah…. it FREEZES! And boom, you’re back to square one.
  4. If you’re trying to thaw your air lines, use air line antifreeze. You can buy it at any auto parts store, or Walmart, or from us. Here’s the key though – be sure to drain your air tanks BEFORE you add it, and then when you do, ONLY ADD 2 OZ.OR LESS.
  5. While we’re on the subject of air lines and tanks, be sure to drain your air tanks after each trip to release any condensation built up.
  6. Don’t pass a gas station if you’ve got less than a 1/4 tank of fuel. From what we’ve heard, nothing irritates a fleet manager more than a fuel-up service call. These are 100% preventable and a 100% expensive waste of money.
    • Pro tip from Jamie Hagen of HellBent Xpress: Fuel up every night when you stop. Not only does it negate you from running out of fuel during your run, but it also fills the tank with fuel, leaving no room for condensation to build in the tank.
  7. If you can avoid setting your trailer brakes right away, do. Allowing the shoes to cool down and water to dry/evaporate will help keep the shoes from freezing to the drums. If you are in a flat parking lot, where your equipment is going to sit for a while, and you can avoid setting them completely? That’s not a bad idea either. Obviously we do NOT recommend doing this on any sort of hilly terrain, icy slopes, etc.

Here’s what they recommended to keep in your trucks as sort of an emergency kit:

  • Cold weather gear (as mentioned above)
  • Emergency food rations & water
  • A bottle of air-line anti-freeze
  • A bottle of  Diesel Fuel Supplement to use at fill ups to prevent gelling.
  • A bottle of Diesel 911 to clear after a gel-up
  • 1-2 fuel filters (depending on what your truck needs) to replace after gelling
  • Hammer (to tap frozen brake drums to separate from shoes)
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