It’s October, which means pumpkin spice lattes, gorgeous fall foliage, and sweater weather. At PDQ America’s headquarters in White Oak, TX,we haven’t donned any sweaters quite yet... Here in Texas, October began with temps in the high 80s, leaving us yearning for crisp fall days!
However, temperatures in several parts of the country are dipping into the 20s and 30s. This means truck drivers need to get ahead of the curve and prepare their trucks to face the winter conditions head on.
The first cold snap of the season is not the time to winterize your truck. Rather, it is ideal to complete this type of maintenance before icy weather sets in. It might not be freezing yet, but now is actually a great time for this kind of service.
Stay safe this winter with preventative maintenance
When it comes to preparing your rig for colder temps, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. “It’s important to winterize your truck because any existing moisture in the air line can freeze and prevent the air from flowing to the brake chambers,” says Ryan Walthers, a mechanic and owner of KBK Roadside in Kilgore, TX.
When Ryan performs this service on trucks, he says he’s looking for moisture, like oil or water, in the air lines.
“Sometimes the compressor will get weak and it’ll start pushing oil through the line,” he says.
Whether you try this on your own truck or you take it to a mechanic, Ryan says the first step is to open the tanks and drain them all the way down, or as far as you can.
“You’ll be able to air them back up then keep draining them. Get air brake antifreeze and put it into the line, you can take the line off of the compressor,” he says. “When you do this, pump the breaks and let it flow through the break line, make sure everything’s clean. Then fill the air back up keep and doing that until you feel like everything’s cleaned out.”
You can repeat this process about two or three times, ensuring no moisture remains in the line.
Don’t forget about your trailer!
It’s just as important to make sure your trailer is ready for the winter weather. To winterize your trailer, Ryan has the following advice:
“Hook up to it, let it build up the air, let all your airbags get up, and be sure to check for leaks. Make sure there’s not water leaking anywhere, or rust. Then you drop that airbag.”
Rust can be a real issue when it comes to trailers.
“Sometimes, the trailers will get water in them, and they’ll get rusty inside the lines, so be sure to clean them out,” Ryan says.
More suggestions for winter safety
Besides ensuring your air lines and trailers are ready for colder temps, according to atbs.com you should also take several other simple steps to keep yourself safe on the road this winter:
· Have an emergency kit in your truck: If you get stranded in nasty winter weather, it’s important to have supplies like extra blankets, gloves, scarves, extra coolant/washer fluid/engine oil, a flashlight and extra batteries, and tire chains.
· Double check the battery: Freezing temps can rapidly deplete battery life. If your battery is drawing near the typical 48-72-month life cycle, it might be best to replace it. If not, check the battery to ensure it is securely mounted and that all connections are tightened and clean.
· Inspect your tires: Are your tires in good shape? They should be in order to traverse icy roads! Give your tires a thorough inspection to make sure they are inflated to the proper pressure rating. Also, some states require chains, so check on this before you head out this winter.
· Prep your windshield: Snow and ice on the windshield can make driving downright dangerous, sometimes impossible. The time to double check your wipers and replace them if needed is not when you’re driving through a snow storm. Also, make sure your wiper fluid is sufficient and switched over to a blend specifically suited for cold temps.
At PDQ America, the health and safety of our carriers is one of our top priorities. Don’t be caught off guard this winter. Be prepared and ready to navigate icy, snowy roads safely and efficiently.
Special thanks to Ryan for helping us with this week’s blog! If you’re in need of round the clock 18-wheeler service in East Texas, call him at 903-812-1244.