There are no snow days if you drive a semi truck, unless conditions force highways to close. That is why, before you leave home, you must stay on track with seasonal semi truck maintenance in Ocala, FL to be sure you are ready for winter conditions prior to taking to the road. Here is a checklist to ensure you stay safe when driving this winter:
- Know your fuel: Semis have diesel engines, and diesel fuel contains paraffin, which can make it gelatinous when temperatures drop. To prevent this, you need to use the right winter blend. The higher the cetane rating at the gas pump, the less likely the fuel will gel and be rough on your engine. Most fueling stations carry a winter blend during this time of year, but always make sure you use the fuel option with the highest cetane rating. Keep your tank at least half full so you do not have water separation issues and freezing. Replace your fuel filter if this becomes an issue.
- Install a block heater: Even with the right fuel, starting in cold weather is hard on diesel engines. Install a block heater and plan your rest periods at truck stops where you can plug it in. That will keep the engine warm so it starts easier when it’s time to get back on the road.
- Watch oil levels: Just as with fuel, your truck also needs oil. Cold weather reduces lubrication, so work with an experienced semi mechanic to choose the best option for oil. You want to use a winter variety that does not thicken in low temperatures and become useless. Otherwise, you risk being stranded with a semi that will not start.
- Consider winter tires: If you plan on climbing icy hills as you deliver loads all winter, know that all-weather tires may not be your best option. Upgrade to winter tires to enjoy better traction on ice and snow. As you travel, check inflation frequently, as tires lose pressure in cold weather, and that can also affect traction. At the same time, do not overinflate your tires, as this risks tread separation and damage by road debris and potholes.
- Test your battery: Extreme temperatures are rough on engine batteries. In fact, the primary cause of semi truck breakdowns is dead batteries. If you are near the end of your battery’s life cycle, replace it before doing any extensive driving. Even if you feel you have a year left, replace the battery if you experience slow engine cranking when you start or headlights dimming when you idle. Sometimes, driving in cold weather frequently will kill a battery more quickly.
- Top off fluids: You do not need to make winter trips more challenging than necessary for your truck. Top off all your fluids, including power steering, brakes, windshield washer and battery. Request a winterization of the cooling system as well, and be certain that your coolant is properly topped off.
J & M Trailer Repair offers seasonal semi truck maintenance in Ocala, FL to keep you safe on the highway this winter. Call us today to schedule an appointment.