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How to keep your crews safe by winterizing your fleet
Jill Odom | November 24, 2017
vehicle tire on icy road

Photo: /Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera

Winter is just around the corner and as temperatures start to drop, the number of vehicle issues you can encounter will start to rise if you don’t take the proper precautions.

The cold can have multiple effects on your truck, so be sure to take the time to winterize your fleet in order to reduce downtime and keep crews safe. Here is a list of things to check before Old Man Winter comes knocking at your door.

Battery

Extreme cold temperatures can pull voltage from a battery, making it harder to start. It is important to have it tested before freezing temperatures hit. If the battery is close to the 48-72-month cycle, you should go ahead a replace it. If not, check the electrical wiring for damage or fraying.

Tires

According to Mark Cox, school director of Bridgestone Winter Driving School, most tires lose one pound per square inch (psi) for every 10 F of temperature drop. Deflated tires reduce the tread and traction of a vehicle, increasing the risk of sliding on an icy road.

“A new winter tire is obviously best for winter use, but in deep snow even a half-worn winter tire gives the performance of a new all-season tire,” Cox told . “A half-worn all season tire gives the performance of a summer tire, and summer tires should never be used on winter roads.”

Fluids

Check all of your fluids, as they will thicken as the temperature drops. Oil, antifreeze, power steering, brake and transmission fluids should all be monitored. To keep the engine from freezing, a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and coolant should keep fluids from freezing at temperatures as low as minus 34 degrees.

For motor oil, consider using a lighter grade in the winter months. To avoid diesel fuel from gelling, add anti-gel fuel additives and look for high cetane ratings at the pump. Check your owner’s manual for specific guidelines.

Windshield wipers

Check and replace your windshield wipers if needed. Make sure they are not stuck to the glass before driving anywhere, and don’t have them set to automatic in the winter in case they are stuck and try to move when you start the car, as this can blow a fuse.

Keep extra bottles of washer fluid in the truck as well in case you run out.

Emergency kit

Because getting stranded in adverse winter weather can be a possibility, it is best to follow the Boy Scout motto and always be prepared. This means you should have a winter weather emergency kit in every vehicle that includes a first aid kit, flashlight, blankets, winter clothes, ice scraper, jumper cables, water, dry food snacks, cell phone charger and other survival supplies. 

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