In the winter months, to avoid costly road mishaps while delivering or servicing restrooms, it’s essential to ensure your trucks are winter ready. Driving conditions can become hazardous in minutes, so it’s crucial to spend some time upfront preparing your truck for the ice, snow, and freezing temperatures. We’ve prepared a handy checklist of items to have on hand, and things you can do to winterize your truck fleet and ensure your truck is winter ready and your operator is cozy, warm and happy.
Things to check for in and around the truck:
Winter is not the time for wimpy wiper blades. Heavy construction allows the blade to swipe snow out of the way so the operator can have good visuals of the road at all times. Winter wipers have rubber blades that hinder ice formation, allowing the edge to clear snow efficiently. When spring arrives again, you’ll want to return to the lightweight blades as they are easier on the wiper motor.
Check tires for correct pressure and tread integrity. Unlike the song, air pressure does not “drop…like it’s hot”. Cold air causes tire pressure to drop, which can be dangerous if your tires are already low on pressure. Typically, you can expect to lose 1 PSI per ten degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t want your operator stuck in a snow bank this winter make sure to check that your tires have good tread depth so that your tires can grip the ice rather than slide.
Have a Survival Kit handy. A slide on black ice can launch a truck far off the road; so it is best to make sure you are prepared for the worst-case scenario. A good kit will contain a heavy blanket, an ice scraper, waterproof matches, a first aid kit, water, and food. This is a good excuse to load up on those twinkies and jerky…they’re shelf stable and they taste devilishly good. Don’t forget to include jumper cables, a flashlight, an extra gallon of coolant, a pair of gloves, a hat, and a jacket…remember that worst-case scenarios tend to be unforgiving, so be ready!
Things to check under the hood:
A truck’s cooling system should be changed/flushed every two or three years. In the winter, your truck’s motor can go from hot temperatures while running to extreme cold when turned off. This drastic temperature change can be tempered by coolant and proper engine cooling. Even though it’s a pain in the butt, inspect those hoses for signs of cracking or bulges. Dealing with a cracked hose now is better than being stranded with a frozen butt. You can check for line leaks by doing a pressure test; pressure should be between 13-16 PSI. You should also regularly replace the old water pump and the thermostat.
You will thank yourself later by keeping your washer fluid topped off. Driving in wet snow kicks up snow, salt, and sand directly onto your windshield. A full tank of washer fluid allows you to spray your windshield clean of salt and sand for a clear field of view.
Cold temperatures cause your battery to draw more power to start. If your battery is over three years old, you should test it to ensure it has 12.6 volts or more for winter performance.
You can use a block heater to keep your motor and fluids warm and ready for action. If you are using a magnetic block heater, it is important to make sure it is securely attached to prevent it from migrating to another part of the engine or falling off. Remember, your block heater will be of no help to you laying miles away in the middle of a country road.
Make sure your motor has the proper oil viscosity. In winter months, the cold temperatures cause oil to thicken. Inconsistent oil dispersal in the engine could lead to stalls or, worse, motor damage and costly repairs. Changing your oil to a thinner “winter” oil, or a year-round synthetic will help the flow of oil throughout your engine. Always check your owner’s manual to make sure you are using the correct oil viscosity for your make and model.
Your truck can stall out if you have a low tank and the water vapor in your gas lines or tank freezes. It’s a good practice to always keep at least a half tank when temperatures fall below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. You can think of it as an excuse to stock up on jerky and twinkies more often.
Committing to these changes will ensure a smooth winter season for your truck operators, and you will benefit from no unforeseen surprises. Read about winterizing your portable restrooms and handwash sinks and stations here. Stay tuned for our next post, covering how to winterize your handwashing, laundry, specialty trailer, or your Satellite SuiteTM.