How to Winterize Your Work Truck
Winter weather can wreak havoc on work trucks if they are not properly prepared to handle the conditions. Sub-zero temperatures, substantial snowfall, and icy roads are normal operating environments for many throughout the winter months. Regardless of the weather, the work must go on. Use this checklist to help you prepare your work truck for the winter season.
✔ Antifreeze - A 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water is typically fine for three months out of the year (spring, summer, fall) for most. Come winter, many need to consider a higher concentrated mix of antifreeze to water. The lower the temperate, the more concentrated it should be. Always check temperature ratings on the container of the antifreeze and never exceed a 70/30 antifreeze to water concentration.
✔ Battery - Batteries are put through the greatest operating strain during consistent cold temperatures. Due to this, batteries tend to fail more often in winter months potentially leaving you stranded. Regularly check battery cables to ensure they are securely connected and clean any corrosion from the terminals. To prevent battery failure during winter, perform a voltage test during the fall. If the battery reads at the lower end of acceptable voltage, be preventative and replace it.
✔ Tires - Snowy and icy roads can be difficult to safely navigate. Tires that are worn or improperly inflated can compound this safety issue and increase the risk of an accident. Ensure your tires have ample tread, 4/32" or more. Cold temperatures can also lower tire pressure so regularly read your tire pressure to avoid under-inflation. If your area receives heavy snowfall and ice, consider investing in tire chains to increase traction.
✔ Windshield Washer Fluid - Windshield washer fluid is often overlooked during the winterizing process. Since you utilize your windshield washer fluid much more often in winter, you need to ensure the fluid is rated to withstand the temperatures in your area. Many times, the fluid freezes and the issue is not discovered until your windshield needs cleaned while you are driving down the road with drastically reduced visibility, an accident waiting to happen.
✔ Engine Oil - Much like antifreeze, most common engine oils perform great during the spring, summer and fall. As cold temperature descend during winter, your standard 15W or 10W oil struggles to properly flow. As fall arrives, plan on switching out your normal engine oil with 5W (or even 0W oil for extremely cold conditions) to ensure your engine receives the proper lubrication throughout the winter.
✔ Engine/Oil Heaters - When you park your work truck overnight and the temperatures drop, your engine and oil temperature do too. Many work trucks operating in Northern climates have block or oil pan heaters installed, either as a factory option or add-on accessory. Be sure to plug in these components overnight during cold temperatures to ensure your engine has an easier time starting in the morning.
✔ Four Wheel Drive - Four wheel drive is a necessity in regions that receive heavy snowfall. Getting stuck on a jobsite can present a safety concern and decreases productivity. Before your next snow, test your four wheel drive system to ensure the differentials, hubs, bearings and other components are in top working condition.
✔ Paint & Finish - Today's work trucks receive top-notch corrosion protection with the paint and undercoating. During winter, harmful salt and chemicals are deployed to the roads in attempt to melt snow and ice. These road treatments eventually find their way to your work truck, expediting the corrosion and rust process if not addressed. Regularly wash your work truck during winter months, including the undercarriage to prevent build-up of salt and chemicals.
✔ Cold Weather Kit - A cold weather kit can be a lifesaver in the event that you get your work truck stuck and help cannot come immediately. In your cold weather kit you should pack a thermal blanket, flashlight with additional batteries, matches, bottled water, jumper cables or a jump box, windshield scraper and brush, tow straps or chains, and roadside flares.