North America is a beautiful continent to explore throughout the year—with 4 distinct seasons through much of the northern regions. The gorgeous reds, oranges, and golds of Fall will swiftly change to bare trees and ice and snow up north. Fortunately, we have time to plow through the winter maintenance checklist. If you don’t have one written down, here are a few helpful tips to keep your rig running through the bitter cold in the north/northeast.
Check and Re-Check Fluids
While this is a regular maintenance items throughout the year, certain systems are more prone to failure as the mercury falls. Newer, mid-duty diesel trucks and vans are equipped with DEF systems designed to help combat emissions by integrating an exhaust fluid trapping particulates before exiting the exhaust pipe. One problem for those operating in the north or northeast: DEF fluid has a freezing point of a mere 12 degrees (-11C), so a weekend or even an overnight stay is enough to freeze up. Fortunately, the fluid will generally thaw within an hour of operation, however as with most fluids, DEF fluid can expand when freezing, which can cause damage to the system or hoses. Keep an eye on the fluid level and as the vehicle warms up, check for leaks.
Coolant and anti-freeze have a service life of roughly 2 years, and anti-corrosion additives break down over time so plan on checking and flushing/replacing fluids every 2 years if not more frequently. Check coolant levels and for signs of leaks at fuel-ups during Winter months to prevent any avoidable roadside incidents.
Maintain Your Fuel System
In colder climates, consider using ASTM D-975 Grade 1 diesel fuel if your equipment supports it, as it performs better in the lower temps (below 10 degrees). Be sure to replace the fuel filter and drain the water separator to avoid freezing when operating in frozen parts of the continent.
Check Ignition and Wear Items
Be sure you or your mechanic has a close look at the glow plugs to be sure they are clean and operating at their peak. it’s a cheap part to replace and certainly something you don’t want to fail in Minnesota in February. While looking at the plugs, take a look at all hoses and belts, as weather extremes—cold to operating temperature can cause premature cracks and failures.
Just because your truck starts when it’s 50 degrees doesn’t guarantee an easy start when it’s 5 degrees. Have your battery tested to ensure it’s healthy and strong, and keep your truck on a block heater when parked overnight.
With much of the North and Northeast under snow, a little preventative care can make the difference between an on-time delivery and a cold night in a maintenance yard or roadside. If you’re looking to upgrade to a new or recent pre-owned commercial truck, contact us for truck financing options.