The leaves have fallen, temperatures are sinking, and the salt trucks are gearing up for work. The transition to winter can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people. For us, however, winter means worrying about a range of seasonal elements and hazards that can cause some serious wear and tear to your diesel truck. We’re here to help you get your truck ready for all of that so you don’t have to stress about it later.
Checking the Battery
The first thing you should do is check how your battery is doing. Cold weather puts a lot of extra stress on your battery, and you don’t want to get stuck in an emergency in a big winter storm with a truck that won’t start. That’s why you should check it out before the weather really hits. Make sure everything’s tight and nothing is damaged, and then either run a load test on it or take it to an auto parts store that’ll check it for free. If it’s near the end of its life already, it’s not going to be reliable, and you should consider replacing it.
Keeping Your Engine Cool without Freezing
Look over the radiator, the internal thermostat and the rest of the coolant system for any leaks or worn-out pieces. Replace any pieces that need it, and make sure your coolant levels are right and the mixture ratios are what they’re supposed to be for your truck and your particular weather conditions. If you’re ever not sure about the proper ratio of water and antifreeze, look it up.
If you’re in an especially cold area, you might consider some kind of engine block heater or a grille cover, too. Diesel engines can be especially hard to start in colder weather. If you’re due for an oil change, swap out for a more cold-resistant oil.
All About Fuel
Some elements in diesel fuel can freeze when temperatures drop enough, and that can lead to all sorts of engine problems. Avoid that by buying anti-gel additives to add to your fuel. While you’re doing that, make sure the fuel filter is in good shape and clean out the water separator. Water is another hazard to your fuel system and the whole engine, and – like many hazards – it’s especially a problem during winter months.
You’re going to be depending on your tires all season long, so it’s important you make sure they’re ready and have plenty of tread. Look them over carefully for any bubbles or cuts. Make sure they have enough air, and if you live somewhere that requires chains, get those set up and inspect them often to make sure they’re holding up.
Keeping the Windshield Clear
Obviously, visibility is essential. Replace your wipers if needed and fill up on wiper fluid. You’ll need to change the fluid mixture to be ready for the freezing temperatures, too. Check carefully for any cracks or chips in the glass and fix those before the weather gets worse. Even minor cracks can create big problems for you when it’s dealing with extreme temperature changes.
Enjoy the Weather and Be Safe
Pack a kit of emergency supplies in your truck, too, just in case you get stuck out in a particularly wild storm. Then, once you know your diesel truck is ready for action, get out there and enjoy the season. (Don’t forget to wash the exterior after a big storm to get any salt from the road off!)
If something doesn’t seem right, or you’re not confident you can properly run some of these tests, don’t hesitate to take your truck to a mechanic and get some help from a professional. It’s better to ask for help and ensure you’ll have a safe and fun winter.