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8 tips on how to winterize your semi-truck

November 04, 2020

Three semi-trucks drive down the highway in snowy conditions during winter.

With cold temperatures and snowy weather approaching much of the U.S., now is the time for owner-operators to start winterizing their trucks.

Spending the time to prepare your semi-truck for winter prevents unnecessary accidents and breakdowns from happening, which means less time in the shop and more time hauling loads and making money.

Check out these eight tips on how to winterize your semi-truck.

How to winterize your semi-truck

1. Check your battery and electrical systems.

Because batteries drain quicker in cold weather, now’s the time to inspect your truck’s battery to ensure it’s securely mounted, has no corrosion and doesn’t need to be replaced. Make sure all connections are tightened and cleaned.

Look over the electrical wiring for damage and the alternator and starter for corrosion and frays.

2. Look over the fuel filter and water separator.

Ensure the fuel filter is in working condition and consider changing it before winter starts. Consider bringing additional filters with you out on the road in case your current one fills with water.

Monitor your water separator daily once the temperature falls. Prevent condensation from forming inside of the fuel tank by draining water when necessary.

3. Start using fuel additives.

While you’re at the pump, add anti-gel additives to ensure fuel continues to pass through your fuel filter. Keep extra anti-gel fuel additive in your truck at all times.

4. Install an electric block heater.

If you are an owner-operator who spends a lot of time in cold temperature regions, consider installing an electric block heater to keep your engine warm while your truck is turned off.

5. Inspect the cooling system.

Trucks threaten to overheat in the winter because their engines are working extra hard. Before winter arrives, check your radiator for leaks, inspect the hoses for bulges and look over the hose clamps for damage. Secure any loose components.

This is also a good time to flush out your cooling system and replace your antifreeze. Make sure you replace your antifreeze with the proper amount.

6. Prepare your windshield.

If your windshield wiper fluid is getting low, refill it and switch to a cold temperature blend. Ensure your windshield wipers are working properly and invest in a new set if they aren’t.

7. Check your tires.

Check each tire to make sure they are properly inflated, have plenty of tread left and don’t have any cracks or degraded rubber.

Speaking of tires, carry tire chains with you and review how to put tire chains on your semi-truck.

8. Clean the air tanks the inspect the air dryer.

Check your air dryer to ensure it’s functioning properly and inspect it for leaks and corrosion. You can clean your air tanks by removing the drain plugs and allowing them to dry.

Your air dryer stops water from icing over brake lines, so it’s important to keep the air dryer in good condition.

Additional tip

While winterizing your semi-truck, it’s a good idea to also prepare yourself. Put together an emergency kit in case you find yourself stalled or stranded. We recommend including:

  • Extra warm clothes and blankets.
  • Pair of winter boots.
  • First aid kit.
  • Flashlight and batteries.
  • Nonperishable food and bottled water.
  • Snow shovel.
  • Flares.