Your winter truck maintenance is something that you need to take care of every winter season.
Maintaining your truck during the winter and making sure it is performing at the best operating efficiency is essential for success. You get most of your truck by having it on the road. The first step to ensure efficient and reliable performance is by maintaining it properly. Winter is coming and we know what is coming with it - snow, cold nights, ice, and winds.
You need to prepare your vehicle for the temperature drop. One of the most common winter mechanical faults is a frozen engine. Your cooling system and radiator are under a lot of stress during the cold winter months. Their proper functioning is vital for keeping the engine cool without freezing in the winter.
The coldest and wettest months are always a challenge. Now is the time to prepare your truck properly for the months ahead.
What exactly is a cooling system? How it is essential for your winter truck maintenance?
The engine in your vehicle is an internal combustion engine where power is generated through the expansion of high temperature and high-pressure gases. Due to the combustion gas and the friction of mechanical parts, a lot of heat is generated. The heat in question should be removed from the engine and kept at operating temperature.
Parts involved in cooling the engine:
Cooling System Parts:
- 1. Water Pump
- 2. Radiator
- 3. Thermostat
- 4. Coolant Temperature Sensor
- 5. Coolant (Antifreeze + Water)
Water pump - it is an essential part of the system. It pumps the coolant and is the heart of every cooling system.
The Radiator is a heat exchanger used to transfer the excess heat developed by the engine to the atmosphere.
The thermostat regulates the flow of the coolant. It is a valve and it helps to maintain the proper operating temperature for the truck engine during the winter. Regulating the amount of coolant that goes through the radiator is The Thermostats' role.
Coolant Temperature Sensor
CTS role is to monitor the engine temperature.
A coolant is a liquid or gas substance, mainly used to regulate or reduce the temperature of a system. This special fluid runs through the engine to keep it at the correct operating temperature range. The coolant has a high thermal capacity and low viscosity. It is usually made from ethylene glycol or propylene, water, and some protection additives.
The fan's main purpose is to turn on whenever your truck coolant goes above a certain temperature to prevent overheating. Your truck's cooling system is fundamental for your winter truck maintenance to efficient and safe driving. Its main purpose is to prevent overheating by distributing the engine's heat evenly throughout the whole system. The result of a failed cooling system can lead to breakdown and costly repairs.
How des Engine Cooling during winter truck maintenance works?
Antifreeze is a chemical. His consisting of ethylene glycol or sometimes the lower toxicity propylene glycol. When mixed with water it serves to lower the freezing point and raise the boiling point in the mixture.
It also includes some corrosion inhibitors that which role is to prevent rust from forming on the metal parts like water pumps and engine blocks. You can see broken inhibitors when the antifreeze gets brown or rusty in color. In that case, replacing the antifreeze is a must.
The antifreeze works because the freezing and boiling points of liquid are colligative properties. Тhey depend on the concentrations of solutes or dissolved substances in the solution.
A pure solution freezes because the lower temperatures cause the molecules to slow down. The attractive forces between them bind them into rigid crystalline structures. By adding a different kind of molecule to the mix blocks those attractive forces prevent the crystalline structures from forming. Adding more solutes will lower the temperature be before the solution can freeze.
Ethylene Glycol works great because not only is it water-soluble it is also miscible which means it can be mixed with any amount and still mix evenly.
Antifreeze and water should have a mixture percentage based on the lowest temperatures typically seen in your climate. In most regions, these are 50-50 water-antifreeze mixture which will provide enough protection from little below freezing to a high of 265 degrees (129 Celsius). In the coldest temperatures, you could use a mix of 60 to 70% antifreeze.
How does it work and affect your winter truck maintenance?
The coolant flows through a path that takes it from the water pump through the passages inside the engine block where it collects more heat produced by the cylinders. Then it flows up to the cylinder head (or heads in a V type engine). After that, it collects more heat from the combustion chambers. Then it flows out past the thermostat, and it goes straight through the upper radiator hose and then into the radiator.
In the radiator, the coolant flows through the thin flattened hoses that make up the core of the radiator and it's cooled by the airflow across those vents. The coolant flows out of the radiator through the hose and back to the water pump, by this time cooled off and ready to perform this cycle again. Tips:
Use the proper coolant to water the mixture
Many coolants come pre-mixed with water, but on some occasions, during the winter you may need different coolant to water ratios for better results and performance. When the temperature is below freezing outside, the correct coolant mix will help with keeping the engine from coming to a halt.
For proper winter truck maintenance inspect the trucks' components - belts, seals, and hoses
The operation of your cooling system depends on the belts, seals, and hoses surrounding it. The cold weather can be destructive to those components. Inspect and replace any components before the cold winter months. This assures you that during the winter
Radiator caps and hoses inspection
Inspect caps, look for cracks, and replace if you discover any damage. It is also recommended that you replace the caps when you flush the vehicle's coolant.
Take Care of Coolant Leaks
Coolant leaks are not rare and they are recognizable due to the color of the coolant (usually green/yellow/pink). The leaks are easy to identify underneath the vehicle. If you encounter a leak of any kind it is best to get it looked at by a professional mechanic before it turns into a bigger problem.
While doing your winter truck maintenance make sure your coolant is at the proper level
You need to fill your radiator with coolant and you have to make sure the fluid is at a proper fill level. The best way to check if that is the case is when the vehicle is cool. Open the radiator cap and if the coolant looks low then you will most likely need a refill. Make sure to get it looked at by a professional before it is too late.
With time, dirt can build up in the cooling system, preventing the proper flow of the coolant. If there are contaminants, the fluid can also lose its effectiveness if not refreshed from time to time. Before the winter begins, consult with a specialist on the best time to perform a flush.
Check the radiator tank
You should check the radiator tank and reservoir once or twice a year. Often times you can discover small holes or punctures that you need to fix. If they get too big you may have to do a much larger repair and replace the radiator.
How is your radiator getting affected by the cold weather?
The temperature drop during the winter has its consequences - fluids can freeze and hoses can crack in the cold. The American Trucking Associations' Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) is the official and accepted authority in the United States for heavy-duty trucking maintenance standards.
The TMC's recommended guidelines are:
Maintaining the Conventional pre-charged Inorganic Acid Technology (IAO) and Hybrid Organic Acid Technology (HOAT) coolants needs to happen on an engine preventive maintenance interval of 25,000 miles, or as specified by the engine manufacturer.
On the other hand, Nitrated Organic Acid Technology (NOAT) coolants require a charge to achieve the full 600,000 miles or 12,000-hour service life. The recommended extended charge is 300,000 miles or 6,000 engine hours. Nowadays, OAT - Organic Acid Technology coolants provide up to 600,000 miles or 12,000 engine hours of service life.
The TMC has released recommended colors for different types of coolants. Please have in mind that while these are established colors, they are not required and some manufacturers do not follow the color guidelines.
Below you can find the color recommendations:
Please have in mind that the color on the packaging could be different from the color of the content in the bottle. Don't judge a book by its cover and always make sure to read the label so you know you have the right coolant in your hands.
Other helpful tips for your winter truck maintenance:
Recognizing a potential issue before it turns into a major concern can be a game-changer for your efficiency. Below you can find other helpful tips for keeping your truck on point in the winter:
Testing your truck batteries is very important during the winter. The cold weather during the winter months can drain a truck battery faster and the battery connections get dirty and corrode in the winter. Make sure you keep an eye on the batteries by testing them and keep the connections clean.
Your truck depends on fuel. An old and dirty filter can prevent the fuel from getting through. Тhus it will affect the operations of the truck.
Always base your fuel needs based on the weather at your location and your destination. Diesel fuel treatment will keep your fuel from gelling and will increase the longevity of your fuel system.
In conclusion, we want to finish with a quote :
Like Alan Lakein said: “Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.”
By doing your winter truck maintenance you do yourself and your truck a favor. Your truck will be ready for the winter. This way you will feel more safe while you are on the road.