You depend on your truck to run reliably and strong throughout the year, and through all sorts of terrain and tough conditions, but the winter weather can be especially punishing on your four-wheeled friend. When the winter weather hits, ice, snow, salt, sleet, deicing chemicals, and freezing temperatures can really take their toll on your vehicle, and affect its ability to make it through your next haul.
Although harsh winter weather can be a challenge, your truck doesn’t have to be a victim of the long frigid months. There’s plenty you can do—both in advance and during the coldest season—to ensure that your truck makes it through and is ready to handle any job you have for it. Use the following winter prep checklist to make sure your truck is ready to survive whatever Mother Nature throws its way!
Pre-winter truck prep
Prepping your truck before the cold weather arrives is essential if you want to ensure that your vehicle is road ready all winter long. Use the following checklist to get your truck ready from top to bottom.
Monitor antifreeze levels.
Use a reliable antifreeze-testing gauge, which is easy to find in any automotive shop, to make sure that your truck has an appropriate level of antifreeze. It might be a good idea to flush the system and replace your antifreeze if it’s been a while since you’ve done so.
Test and check batteries.
Make sure that your truck’s batteries are in great shape to give it the extra power it needs in the cold winter months. Disconnect and check each battery individually, and replace any old or weak battery before the winter arrives. Remember, just one weak battery can be a drain on all of them and this is not a problem you want to have on the road and in the cold.
Empty air tanks and check air dryers.
Residual moisture can be a real problem during the winter. When the cold weather arrives, extra moisture could freeze up and damage your air system, which could negatively affect your air suspension and brakes—exactly what you don’t want to happen on long, icy roads. Be sure to drain your air tanks completely and allow your drain plugs to fully dry out as part of your winter weather prep plan.
Prep your tires.
Any driver worth their license knows the value of solid tires during the winter months. Check each tire to make sure its still in good shape, and be sure to replace any marginal tire as soon as possible. Make sure you have tire chains readily available if and when they’re needed.
Check your wipers.
A simple but often overlooked wiper check can make a world of difference when the winter precipitation arrives. Make sure your truck’s wipers are fully functional and you’ll save yourself from unfortunate “winter wiper stress.”
Check your ultra capacitor, pre-heater, block heater, and starting system.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but make sure that all of the components of your truck’s heating and starting systems are working properly and ready for the winter weather.
Test and prep your fuel filter.
Make sure there’s no residual water or condensation in your fuel filter system, which can freeze and cause damage in the winter—and can even cause your truck to shut down. Change your fuel filters if needed, and consider having some extra filters on hand just in case.
During the winter
If you took care of all of the items on the pre-winter truck prep checklist above you should be in good shape for when the cold weather hits. During the winter, you should continue to pay careful attention to the following:
- Fuel: Make sure you’re using a proper fuel additive mix to help prevent your fuel from jelling up when the weather hits freezing or below.
- Block heater: Be sure to plug this in during the winter months, even if it doesn’t feel too cold outside.
- Periodic maintenance checks: Keep a regular eye on the following parts of your truck to make sure they’re in good shape all winter long: door locks, tires, brakes, batteries, headlights, wiper blades, fluid levels, coolant hoses and belts, and fuel and air filters.
Consider this your essential winter truck survival guide. Make sure you carefully follow all of the items mentioned above, and you’ll be setting yourself up for safe and hassle-free driving all winter long.