Winter Truck Maintenance: 10 Tips to Prepare Your Truck for Winter

Cold temperatures are hard on the engine and the vehicle’s components. Read our ten tips on how to prepare your truck for the winter.

Is your truck prepared for the cold weather? With winter quickly approaching, checking your truck’s maintenance is critical to the safety of your vehicle, those driving around you, and you. 

Frigid temperatures and harsh winter conditions are hard on any vehicle, especially fleet vehicles that are on the road for multiple hours a day. Before temperatures drop to freezing points, prepare your truck for the upcoming winter with this maintenance checklist. 

Avoid Cold Soaks

Cold soaks occur when the engine block’s fluids and metal components are dropped due to being in chilly environments.  In other words, it means the engine has been inactive for an extended period (for more than a day), and cold weather can play a part in that. Just make sure to keep your engine running, and that it’s not sitting inactively for more than 24 hours!

Check Tires and their Tire Pressure 

check tires during winter

Remember to keep tabs on your truck’s tire pressure before and during winter. Cold temperatures can slowly reduce tire pressure, impacting tire tread life, fuel economy, and your safety.

If you have tires with wearing tread, this can cause slippery driving conditions as well. Make sure to have inflated tires as running winter tires in good condition will help prevent breakdowns and accidents.

Plug in the Engine Block Heater

If you drive during the winter months, you’ve probably heard that you might need to plug in your vehicle’s engine block heater so it can start. You’ll need an engine block heater because when extreme winter temperatures occur, 0° F or below, and you start the engine – the oil through the engine block thickens up and begins to get gooey. This will make it harder for the oil to move through the engine, causing it to work harder, use more gas, and produce more emissions. 

If it’s going to be cold during the night or early morning hours, you should probably plug in the block heater. A good rule of thumb is to plug it in when the weather reaches 5°F. 

Tip: To avoid cold soaks, this can help keep the block of the engine warm, making it easier for the engine to start. 

Check Your Front, Back, and Sidelights

check lights during winter, winter truck maintenance

Test to see if all your lights are working properly. Without bright lights leading the way through snowstorms, foggy conditions, or icy roads, it can be difficult to see where you’re going.

Check Your Battery 

Cold engines require much more battery power to start, and heat is damaging to a battery. Batteries drain quickly in cold weather, and can especially be challenging to charge. 

During your maintenance checklist, check that the battery is not past its expiration date so you know it’s capable of holding a good charge, and clean off any connections prior often during winter. 

Always Keep Your Fuel Tank at Least Half Full 

This is something we at US Cargo Control always do during the winter! We recommend keeping your fuel tank half full for a couple reasons. Condensation can build up in the tank, causing fuel lines to freeze when temperatures get cold. 

Another reason to keep it half full is you may get stranded during the winter due to breakdowns, traffic, or car wrecks, and keeping your tank half full allows you to keep it running for warmth should you become stranded. 

Change Your Wipers

Semi Truck Wipers Check and Replacement

It’s important to replace your windshield wipers at least once a year, and it could be good to do it at the beginning of winter. 

When driving through snow or rain, you depend on your wiper blades to keep your vision clear. The harsh conditions of freezing rain, snow, and ice build-up could leave you in a bad spot with a broken or worn-out wiper blade. Inspect your wipers to ensure they’re in top shape. 

Check Fluid Levels

The important fluid levels to check regularly are engine oil, brake fluid, transmission fluid, coolant, power steering fluid, and windshield washer fluid. If any of the levels are low or empty, fill them up before you start your journey in cold weather. This also helps with maintaining a good fuel economy.

Use Winterized Fuel 

Cold weather is rough on diesel fuel, and there’s nothing worse than dealing with a drop in fuel economy and your truck refusing to start when temperatures are below zero. Running your truck with untreated fuel during freezing temperatures can create many issues such as fuel gelling, frozen fuel lines, or plugged filters from build-up. Using seasonally enhanced fuels like CENEX, Wintermaster, or Premium Diesel Fuel will operate freezing temperatures as low as -30 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Avoiding these problems will not help extend the life of your engine, but will keep you rolling!

Plan Ahead 

Highway through the windshield during a rainstorm and snowstorm

Every region in the country is different, and you should plan ahead so you can treat fuel accordingly and pack the essentials. Read 15 Winter Driving Kit Essentials so you can stock your vehicle with the items you’ll need.

Other Winter Tips from US Cargo Control

We care about your safety, and we want to make sure you’re able to get through the winter season. Read more of our tips to stay prepared:

4 Important Winter Driving Tips for Truck Drivers

3 Winter Truck Driving Tips: How to Protect your Rig from Salt and Grime

4 Important Nighttime Driving Tips for Truck Drivers

How to Choose and Use Tire Chains like a Pro

At US Cargo Control, we want all truck drivers to be safe and careful during the winter season. If you have any questions about the products we carry, give our team a call at 866-444-9990.

3 Winter Truck Driving Tips: How to Protect your Rig from Salt and Grime

Learn how to fight salt and grime during these salty winter months.

As it continues to snow this time of the year, we worry about our vehicles when we drive through salt and grime. Not only is driving in the snow treacherous, but the salt used to melt ice on the roads can do a number on your rig. The paint job can come off and it will cause your truck to rust. This is a pain to deal with, but something that can be preventative.

To ensure the salt and grime don’t ruin your truck during these salty winter months, read these few easy steps.

1. Stay Clean

winter truck driving
Courtesy of Adobe Stock

If you often drive in wintry conditions, a truck wash every one to two weeks can prevent salt from ruining the paint. You can hand wash or pressure wash your truck yourself, just like what you would do with your personal vehicle. If you are not feeling like washing it yourself, another option is to go through a truck wash. As long as you do one of these, the paint of your truck will never chip off!

Fun Fact: Make sure to rinse the wheels, its rims and under the chassis. if you do not do this, the salt will become an accelerant for oxidation and rusting.

2. Wax your Truck

winter safety tips for truck drivers
Courtesy of Adobe Stock

After the truck is washed and dried, it’s good to put a coat of wax on it. Waxing creates a protective barrier for your truck that can prevent salt and grime from accumulating in the first place. The best time to wax your truck is before winter starts, but you can still wax your vehicle after giving it a thorough cleaning.

3. Get the Snow and Ice off of the Top of your Trailer

truck driving in snow
Courtesy of Adobe Stock

This is not a tip that can get salt and grime off your truck, but rather a safety tip to protect drivers around you and yourself. Unfortunately, snow and ice slipping from the top of your trailer can potentially injure a person when they are driving behind you. The snow and ice can actually fall off and hit the driver.

This is something you’d want to avoid as you can get fined from some states. To prevent this from happening, make sure to get the snow off of your trailer before you start driving.

Tip: If you need to get it off quickly yourself, invest in a broom or extended brush. These items will do the job well.

Need more winter driving tips? Check out 4 Important Driving Tips for Truck Drivers

At US Cargo Control, we want all truck drivers to be safe during the winter season. Let us know if we can help provide you with the vehicle safety supplies or tires chains you need to keep on hauling!

4 Important Winter Driving Tips for Truck Drivers

Check out these four winter driving tips on how new and experienced truck drivers can prep for winter driving.

When traveling in colder climates, one must always be ready. Winter driving on the roads of Illinois is not the same as in Florida. One road in a city may have black ice, while a different road in a different city may have sleet or hail! No matter what winter conditions you face on the road this year, remember that it can always be different just around the corner.

With winter coming up fast, there are preventative measures that you can take now in order to be better prepared for the different wintery conditions. Check out these four winter driving tips on how new and experienced truck drivers can prep for winter driving.

1. Think Ahead and Be Prepared

winter safety tips for truck drivers
Photo Courtesy of Adobe Stock

Perform a pre-trip inspection to make sure your truck is ready to go. You can do an inspection by looking at your tires, wiper blades, lights, fluids, etc. This is to avoid any maintenance problems down the road or any obvious issues evident now. It is better to know now than to find out during a snowstorm or somewhere you could get stranded for a while.

Another part to think about is using fuel that is treated and blended for low temperatures. Diesel exhaust fuel can freeze at temperatures below 10 degrees Fahrenheit, and low fuel tanks can trap condensation. Carry Anti-Gel or Anti-Freeze in advance for bad, cold weather.

Download the Weather Channel App or read weather reports before hitting the road so you can prepare for the day ahead.

2. Winterize Your Truck and Yourself

truck driver staying warm truck driving in snow
Photo Courtesy of Adobe Stock

People around the world prep for the winter season by winterizing their homes and vehicles, and you can do the same! Prep your truck with winter necessities such as tire chains, supreme moving blankets, tow straps, recovery straps, tow hooks, and reflective vests. If you would like to learn more about tire chains, read our blog post on how to choose and use tire chains like a pro.

Other necessities you should consider carrying in your truck include flashlights, extra windshield wiper fluid, a bag of salt or sand, and jumper cables.

Along with prepping your truck for the winter, make sure to prep yourself! To stay warm and safe, invest in heavy blankets and warm bedding, gloves and scarves, thermal socks, boots with great traction, and at least a day’s worth of food and water. Taking care of yourself is crucial for your health and safety, and it never hurts to pack food as a backup.

3. Use Caution

traffic sign snowy curvy road
Photo Courtesy of Adobe Stock

It should go without saying, but during this time you should be extra careful to follow and obey all road signs, brake lightly, and always be mindful of current conditions. These are rules created by safety authorities, and they are created for a reason: safety for yourself and those around you.

Another critical rule to recognize is to use extra caution when approaching bridges. Bridges and elevated structures are the first to freeze, and many are not treated with ice/snow melting materials like the rest of the roadways. Hold your steering wheel firmly and pay attention to the surface feel of the roads.

4. If Conditions Look Bad, Just Get Off the Road

truck driver waiting for roads to clear up
Photo Courtesy of Adobe Stock

Your safety matters more. If you feel that it doesn’t seem safe to be driving, then you might be better off waiting it out. Listen to weather reports and warnings, communicate with your fleet or with fellow drivers, and react appropriately.

Want to learn more about winter safety tips for truck drivers? Consider reading these:

15 Winter Driving Kit Essentials

Winter Weather: Be Aware and Prepared

At US Cargo Control, we want all truck drivers to be safe and prepared for the upcoming winter season. Let us know if we can help provide you with the vehicle safety supplies or tires chains you need to keep on hauling!