Ice Road Truckers – 5 essential winter maintenance checks
With the UK and Europe ‘supposedly’ expecting some of its worst snowfall this winter, your dream (or nightmare) of becoming an ice road trucker may just be fulfilled. If you come face to face with the conditions that have been predicted, it’s essential that you give your truck through winter maintenance checks before embarking on those long journeys. These checks will ensure both your, and your wagon’s safety across the harsh winter months.
So don the thermal underwear, crank up the heaters and make sure you keep these top 5 checks in mind for trucking on safely through the winter season.
1. Battery Power
As you know, cold weather can cause battery failure – which not only means you may miss your annual sing along to Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas’ – but it unfortunately may also lead to you being stranded in an extremely chilly layby. With cooler temperatures and darker days leading to a higher usage of electrical components such as heating, lighting (and those trusty hair straighteners), batteries may run out much faster. The lifespan of an automotive battery is typically around 3-5 years, so you should be checking your battery and its connections regularly, especially if it’s close to the top end of that estimate. Sparing just a few moments to make these checks may save you a very long, and very cold stint in a remote location.
2. Tyre Tread/Pressure
One of the most commonly repaired and replaced components of any vehicle is, you guessed it, the tyres. Winter roads are usually littered with ice, salt, and potholes – these can lead to an accelerated wear on the tyre-tread. So unless you want to become an ice road skater, we recommend frequent checks of your tread. Whilst making these checks, you should avoid getting distracted by your dashing reflection in your chrome rims and instead remember to also check the tyre pressure! This is just as important when braving the icy roads, as tyres can lose pressure a lot quicker in colder weather. Remember to double check all of your tyres, including your spare(s), to prevent any time-consuming breakdowns this winter. It’s a lot of tyres, but trust us, it’s worth it.
Since we appear to inherit Iceland’s 4 hours of daylight every winter, having good visibility at all times is essential, especially for journeys in potentially hazardous conditions. We know many of you take the lighting on your truck very seriously, and that of course all of those light bars and multicoloured LEDs are for safety purposes only! No matter how many lights you have fitted to your truck, they are no good unless they work, so again, take a little time to assess the wiring and the bulbs.
4. Wiper Blades
Following on with the theme of visibility, we come to an often overlooked component, the wiper blades. Snow and salt deposits from the road can be hazardous to your wipers, causing them to wear away quickly in the winter months; so it’s important to check them for splits, damage and wears. Be sure to replace them if necessary. This will help you avoid those annoying streaks – meaning you won’t have to slow down because you’re struggling to see; which hopefully means you can get home before the last of the Christmas choccies have been demolished!
5. Coolant Level
Don’t be fooled by the cold weather, coolant is still extremely important. Before any long journey, remember to keep the coolant topped up to the optimum level. When topping up your coolant, it’s important to have a good balance of water and antifreeze, as water alone cannot do an effective job and could very likely freeze. This will cause serious internal damage to that finely tuned engine and definitely put you out of action over this busy period. Not what you want.
In addition to the above assessments, it’s always worth packing back up food, extra water, a thermos, even more food, a warm coat, gloves and a hat for your journeys. Yes, that did start to sound like the Generation game, but they’re all equally as important. So just in case any breakdowns or accidents do occur, you can be prepared, and not be left freezing/hungry/thirsty at the roadside. We hope that thanks to these checks and precautions, you will all have a safe and incident free season. Happy winter trucking!
Got any questions on keeping safe in your truck this winter? Email firstname.lastname@example.org – we’ll be happy to offer any advice that you need.