Winter Truck Maintenance On Your Fleet
Fall has arrived and now is the time to start on your fleet’s winter truck maintenance protocol to maximize roll time and ensure costly breakdowns are kept to a minimum. Regardless of fleet size, a good truck winterization program consists of a thorough inspection and testing of all braking, charging, cranking, cooling, fuel, and lighting systems.
Getting your fuel tanks cleaned by a fuel tank sweeper helps prevent any contamination or sediments in the bottom of your tanks from reaching the engine and potentially clogging your truck’s fuel filters. Many vehicles have fuel-water separators that have to be drained of water and contamination. Purchasing high quality fuel that’s been treated for sub-freezing temperatures is a surefire way to prevent unexpected problems in your fuel system.
Inspect the batteries, cables, and battery box. If you smell a strong, sharp, sulphur-like odor, the batteries may be overcharging. Or, one or more of the batteries could be damaged, thus allowing liquid to escape. Look carefully for a swollen battery case as that could indicate an overcharging battery or over-torqued battery hold-down hardware.
Thoroughly check the battery cables and all the connections to ensure they are tightly secured and in good condition. Be sure to also look for corrosion at all electrical connections and cable ends.
Next, have your batteries tested to ensure the internal infrastructure is adequate for the extreme cold in the months ahead. Now is also a great time to inspect the belts for wear and alignment.
Inspect the alternator mounting bolts and brackets to ensure they are free of cracks and that the nuts and bolts are tightly secured. Once you’ve done that, inspect the alternator for amperage and voltage output.
Inspect your cooling system for leaks at both resting and operating temperatures. Do a radiator inspection to make sure it’s clean, dry, and free of debris. Be sure to have a qualified technician test the condition of your water pump, coolant, fan belts, and fan drive system.
Check your dryer and desiccant cartridge to ensure everything is operating properly. Check the moisture levels in your air tanks and ensure there is no sign of any air leaks, both with the foot brake applied and not applied.
Winter brings shorter days and an increase of rain, snow, sleet, and hail, which means your lighting system has to perform without without a hitch. Test your truck’s lighting system by sending amps through trailer lighting circuits to measure their quality as this will help you locate any resistance that may not be visible to the naked eye.
Staying on top of your fleet’s maintenance and ensuring all your vehicles have been properly winterized will ensure your trucks continue rolling safely and efficiently.