Don't Let Winter Weather Derail Your Fleet: Expert Truck Maintenance and Repair Tips

Every year, thousands of semi-truck and commercial vehicle drivers are involved in serious accidents — especially during the winter. In addition to causing severe injuries and fatalities, these accidents also contribute to decreased uptime, shipping delays, and supply chain issues.

If you take good care of your fleet, you’ll have a much easier time weathering winter storms (literally) and staying safe on the road. Below, you’ll learn some essential fleet maintenance and repair tips that will set you and your drivers up for successful winter travel.

Common Winter-Related Truck Challenges

When temperatures drop, commercial truck drivers typically experience some (or all) of the following issues:

Cold Start Engine Difficulties

Starting a diesel engine in cold weather is no simple feat. Diesel engines need heat to ignite. However, the engine’s metal walls can quickly become frigid when temperatures drop, making it difficult for you to start your engine and hit the road.

Decreased Battery Efficiency

In cold weather, it’s common for your truck batteries to become less efficient. This issue can cause you to end up stranded on the side of the road with a dead battery, even though you thought it was sufficiently charged before you left.

Improper Tire Inflation

When temperatures decrease, air molecules slow down, and the air in your tires becomes compressed. As a result, they may deflate, increasing your risk of tire blowouts while on the road. This issue can also lead to premature wear and tear, meaning you may have to replace tires more frequently.

Faulty Electrical Connections

Road salt does a great job of preventing vehicles from slipping on icy roads. However, it can also corrode the electrical connections of your truck and lead to severe issues with your headlights, taillights, wire harnesses, and power cables. This corrosion can also interfere with the reefer and other elements that require stable electrical connections.

Limited Visibility

Rain, snow, and fog can limit visibility while driving, especially if your windshield wipers or the vehicle’s defrost function isn’t working correctly. Poor visibility puts you and other drivers in danger in already-hazardous conditions.

Unsafe Road Conditions

Speaking of hazardous conditions, you also can’t forget about unsafe road conditions that interfere with your commercial truck driving abilities.

If your truck isn’t functioning correctly, you may be left stuck on a freeway on-ramp or slide while trying to use an exit ramp or lose control of the vehicle during intense winds and icy conditions.

Winter Fleet Maintenance Tips

Prioritizing regular fleet maintenance can help you navigate the above mentioned challenges and get through the winter as efficiently as possible. Here are some essential fleet maintenance strategies to keep in mind:

Regularly Check Batteries

Before you head out on the road, check your battery’s charge to ensure it can handle the upcoming journey. You may also want to carry an extra battery — or a jump-start kit — to get the truck back up and running in an emergency.

Schedule Regular Oil Changes

Regularly changing the oil in your vehicle helps to reduce issues related to cold starts. In cold temperatures, the oil becomes thicker, placing more resistance on bearings and moving parts. Without sufficient quality oil, you’ll have a more challenging time starting your truck, especially during the winter.

Monitor Tire Inflation and Traction

Pay close attention to your tires when the weather cools down. Ensure they’re adequately inflated before you start driving, and check the pressure regularly while on the road.

You should also evaluate the tire traction. At least 5/32 inches of tread thickness is ideal for tires & chains to work correctly.

Utilize Fuel Additives

Fuel additives can improve your truck’s performance and efficiency. Look for products specially designed for winter weather.

Remember that fuel additives are not a substitute for regular oil changes or vehicle maintenance. They’re meant to enhance the effectiveness of routine repairs, not replace them.

Keep Sensors and Cameras Clear

If your vehicle has backup sensors or cameras, ensure they’re clear before driving away. If snow or ice builds up on sensors and cameras, you’ll struggle to see correctly, especially when reversing your truck.

Check the Heater and Defroster

A properly functioning heater and defroster will help you stay comfortable and ensure you can see well while driving. Test these elements regularly — ideally, before you head out on the road.

Contact a truck repair professional immediately if you suspect something is wrong. Don’t procrastinate, and hope for the best.

Keep the Windshield Clean and Clear

A clean windshield is a must for maximum visibility and safety while driving.

Check that your windshield wipers work so you can efficiently clear away the rain and snow you encounter on the road.

You should check your windshield regularly for cracks and chips and get them fixed immediately. Use de-icing or low-temperature fluid to prevent freezing, too.

Store Your Vehicle Properly

Proper storage can prevent many challenges commercial truck drivers face during winter months. Storing your truck in a garage, barn, or shed can make a big difference, especially when making sure the truck starts on the first try.

Let the Engine Warm Up

Give your truck’s engine 5-10 minutes to warm up and reach the ideal operating temperature. A cold engine stresses the truck’s internal elements, leading to more wear and tear and an increased likelihood of needing additional repairs.

Get Help with Fleet Maintenance and Repairs in Eagan, Minnesota

There’s no escaping the winter weather in this part of the country, especially when you’re a commercial truck driver. However, you can make this challenging season easier by investing in professional fleet maintenance and repairs.

Twin Cities Diesel has your back if you need help with emergency repairs or just regular truck maintenance.

We are a full-service commercial vehicle repair shop with experience servicing semi trucks, trailers, box trucks, straight trucks, sprinters, dump trucks, and any other vehicle with a DOT number. Our shop also offers nine bays to get you in and out as quickly as possible.

Visit us today to learn more!

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