As winter approaches, the days begin to shorten, and the temperatures begin to drop. Although this process may be gradual, it can feel like it happens in the blink of an eye if you aren’t prepared for it. This winter, ensure that you and your semi-truck are ready for the changes that this harsh season can bring about. Follow this checklist to winterize your semi-truck in advance, so that you can have peace of mind later.

Diesel Fluids That Will Help Your Semi-Truck Prepare for the Winter Season

As you prepare your truck for the upcoming drop in temperature, give special attention to the important fluids that allow it to run. Fluids are, by nature, the element of your truck that is most susceptible to changes in temperature, increasing the chance of equipment failure and possible break downs. Make sure that you and your fluids are ready for the change in seasons by preparing your diesel fuel, fuel filter, windshield wiper fluid, and engine oil.

Add an Anti-Gel Additive to Your Diesel Fuel

Diesel fuel is particularly susceptible to drops in temperature, so make sure that you have an anti-gel additive on hand as the temperatures get colder. Paraffin, a waxy substance, naturally occurs in No. 2 diesel fuel. At mild temperatures, paraffin is liquid and harmless to your equipment. However, when exposed to consistently low temperatures, paraffin will solidify and bind together, blocking your fuel filter and starving the engine of fuel. To combat this, anti-gel additives dissolve the bonds in paraffin and allows it to flow freely through your filter.

Eventually, if your semi-truck is operating in temperatures lower than 0 degrees Fahrenheit, you will need to switch your truck over to No. 1 diesel fuel, which does not have naturally occurring paraffin in it. Be sure to make this switch gradually, as you can cause damage to your engine by switching the type of fuel in your truck abruptly.

Monitor Your Fuel Filter and Water Separator

If you find that the substance on your fuel filter is ice crystals instead of wax crystals, this means that water has made its way into your fuel. This can be dangerous to both you and your vehicle, so be sure to consult a licensed mechanic if you notice water in your fuel.  

Switch to a Cold Temperature Blend of Windshield Wiper Fluid

If you are driving in areas where it is likely that the temperatures will be consistently below freezing this winter, take time to switch your windshield wiper fluid to a cold temperature blend. Wiper fluid that is not suited for colder temperatures may freeze in your reservoir. As it freezes and expands, the wiper fluid may cause your reservoir to crack or damage your pump. This can be a costly fix, as your reservoir cannot be repaired, only replaced.

Make the Switch to a Thinner Oil

Colder temperatures typically increase the viscosity (or thickness) of your engine oil, which can pose a threat to your vehicle. As your engine oil thickens, it can cause engine problems such as difficulty starting. As temperatures drop, you may need to make the switch from a standard oil to a thinner oil, like 5W-40 or 0W-40.

How You Can Prepare Your Diesel Semi-Truck’s Engine for the Winter Season

Your engine is an extremely important element of your truck and can also be one of the costliest to repair. Before winter arrives, make sure that your engine can handle the colder temperatures ahead by inspecting your engine cooling systems and installing an engine block heater.

Check on Your Engine Cooling Systems

Ironically, your truck’s engine can overheat in the winter due to the additional strain of the colder weather. Ensure that your engine does not overheat by thoroughly inspecting your radiator, hoses, and hose clamps to be sure that they are in working condition.

Install an Engine Block Heater

If you are consistently driving in colder regions, you may want to install an engine block heater in your semi-truck. The engine block heater works to keep the engine block warm while your truck is not in use, such as during an overnight stay. This will ensure that your diesel engine will roll over on the first try even if your truck is exposed to colder temperatures.

How You Can Prepare Your Diesel Truck’s Tires for the Cold, Winter Roads Ahead

Colder temperatures can affect your tires in a big way. Be sure to prepare your tires for the winter season ahead by monitoring their pressure and installing tire chains when needed.

Monitor Your Tire Pressure Throughout the Winter Season

As the temperatures begin to drop, you may notice that you are having to inflate your tires more frequently than usual. Typically, for every 10 degree decrease in outside temperature, tires drop about 2 psi (pounds per square inch). Low tire pressure on the roads can contribute to decreased stability and a greater likelihood of vehicle malfunction, so be sure to inflate your tires as often as necessary this winter season.

Install Tire Chains to Gain Better Traction

During particularly icy or snowy conditions, you may need to install tire chains to drive safely. Tire chains increase the level of traction that your tires will get during icy or snowy conditions and allow you to continue driving in harsh conditions. Be aware that tire chains are typically to be driven with at only 20-30 miles per hour and going against the guidelines can cause chain failure which may result in damage to your vehicle or others.

Test and Monitor Your Diesel Truck’s Battery During the Winter Months

Your semi-truck’s battery will be working overtime this winter season. Colder temperatures drain your truck’s battery faster than warmer temperatures because they contribute to the slowing of the chemical reaction within the battery. Make sure that your battery is in working condition this season by inspecting it for signs of damage or wear. If your battery is over two years old, consider replacing it in preparation for the colder weather to come.

Inspect Your Diesel Semi-Truck’s Air Dryer and Clean Its Air Tanks

Your truck’s air dryer is instrumental in keeping you safe while you drive, as it stops water from icing over your semi-truck’s brake lines. Ensure that it is in working order by inspecting your truck’s air dryer for leaks and corrosion. Clean your truck’s air tanks by removing the drain plugs and allowing them to dry.

Cold Weather Driving Tips for Diesel Truckers

Preparing for colder weather is not limited to servicing your truck. Other important elements of preparing for driving in colder weather include building extra time into your driving schedule and preparing a cold weather emergency kit.

Build Extra Time into Your Driving Schedule

It is always a good idea to plan for extra driving time when cold weather hits. When driving in harsh conditions such as ice or snow, slower and safer is always the best option. By building extra time into your driving schedule, you can ensure a safe journey for both you and others on the road.

Prepare a Cold Weather Emergency Kit

If the worst does happen, you certainly do not want to be stuck without a cold weather emergency kit. Prepare a kit and keep it accessible in your truck. Some items to include in your cold weather emergency kit are gloves, a hat, air-activated heat packs, a battery-operated flashlight, flares, non-perishable food, water, and a blanket.

Licensed Automotive and Diesel Mechanics in Knoxville, TN

This winter, allow yourself the peace of mind that comes with having your truck professionally serviced. Certified Diesel Solutions in Knoxville, TN, offers services from preventative maintenance to complete engine overhauls and everything in between! CDS has proudly provided Knoxville with the best in maintenance and customer service for over a decade.

Whatever services you may need, our licensed mechanics at Certified Diesel Solutions are capable of handling anything that your truck may throw at them. Contact us with questions or to schedule service today.