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If you ask someone who’s been in the trucking industry for a long time to tell a winter story, you’ll probably hear the story of driving in a blizzard, blasting through freezing rain, waking up to the truck freezing to a standstill. For some truck drivers, it all happens in one day!
Trucking is a dangerous enough industry, and hazardous weather conditions only add to the difficulty. If you are driving a truck that is not prepared for cold and icy roads, you could get into trouble. But if you take some precautions, you won’t have a problem with winter weather.
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Check your batteries
Cold weather drains your batteries faster. Check the age of your batteries and see how much charge is left in them. Have a hand-held battery tester in your truck so you can quickly check them and see if they need to be replaced. On average, experts recommend replacing batteries every three years before the cold season.
Have a supply of emergency supplies
Malfunctions happen at any time, but they can have much more serious consequences in the winter. Having an emergency supply in your truck can save your life.
We recommend carrying:
- Extra clothing for inclement weather, extra coats, hats, socks, gloves.
- First aid kit
- Extra batteries
- Reflective vest
- Canned and dried food and plenty of water
- Arm and leg warmers
Check your tires
Underinflated tires wear out faster and increase fuel consumption. In cold weather, air is compressed and tire pressure drops. Check your tire pressures regularly during your pre-trip inspection and inflate them if necessary. If your tire pressure is 20% below the manufacturer’s recommendation, remove the tire and have it checked. Failure to do so can lead to trouble or a flat tire.
Inspect the cabin and your sleeping area
Check for cracks, drafts, and cold spots in your cabin. If any areas need to be sealed, don’t delay. Place a sleeping bag and extra blankets in your sleeping area that are rated for sub-zero temperatures so you don’t have to look for them when you need them.
Check the dehumidifier
The air dryer prevents water from entering and freezing in the brake lines. Check that it is working properly and replace the filter, if necessary, before the cold season begins.
Install an engine block heater
Diesel engines have higher cylinder temperatures than conventional gasoline vehicles, making them harder to start in winter weather. If you know you’ll be in cold climates or your truck will be parked for long periods of time, install an engine block heater that makes your truck always start in any conditions.
Inspect the radiator
Check the hoses and clamps and repair them if you find any leak. Make sure the antifreeze tank is full and has the optimum freezing point for the conditions you will be driving in. Make sure the brand of antifreeze is trustworthy to avoid problems later on. Keep a supply of antifreeze in your truck in case you need it.
Check the windshield wipers
Replace the windshield wipers before the winter comes. Refill the wiper fluid and keep the tank full. Carry spare wipers, wiper fluid, windshield wiper and snow brush, window cleaner and paper towels to be ready to replace and clean as needed.
The bottom line is that prepping before you drive in winter conditions can save you downtime this season, not to mention it could save your or someone else’s life.
Buy a CB radio
Such a simple thing as a CB radio in your truck can save your life. Make sure that you take one on the trip and learn how to use it. If you are concerned about driving in some areas, start asking questions. Your colleagues will be able to tell you what you can expect from the road conditions. They can also give helpful tips, such as where to pull off the road and secure chains, or share ideas about where to park to wait out a thunderstorm.