October 15th 2019
With winter around the corner, our team at Munden Ventures wants to share some common effects that cold weather has on commercial trucks and trailers. These effects will change what you should expect to see in your truck and trailer repair and preparation needs while your drivers transport goods through the province in the cold weather.
When we send out our mobile repair trucks to stranded drivers, it’s common to find tires that weren’t pressurized with winter in mind. Trucks in your fleet have many tires that need to be accurately filled. Each tire has different pressure needs, so it’s important to be aware of the effects of cold weather on that pressure. A drop in pressure of 10 psi can turn your tire from a properly inflated one to an improperly inflated one.
For every 12 degree Celsius drop in temperature, there is an approximately 1-2 psi drop in pressure. That means that if you have filled your trucks tires inside a 20 degree shop after being driven, but then your trucks are driving in -30 degree weather, your tires may lose as much as 8 psi due to the change in temperature.
Although it is recommended to check and maintain your truck and trailer tire pressure monthly, we know that recommendation isn’t always followed. At a minimum, recheck your tire pressures during the transition to winter when the temperature has fallen. Always check your trucks tire pressures when they are cold (not having been driven on for a few hours).
Maintaining accurate pressures going into winter will mean better tire life, improved fuel efficiency (under inflated tires have higher rolling resistance caused by friction),and less chance you’ll need one of our mobile service trucks at roadside dealing with tire issues.
Another common issue our repair trucks see is trucks that aren’t able to start – stranding truck drivers. There are many factors that affect a trucks ability to start in cold weather. One of those problems is cold fuel, but we’ll cover that later.
It’s best to simply avoid cold-starting a rig whenever possible. Sometimes it’s unavoidable though. In these cases, we recommend installing engine block heaters, battery warmers, Webasto or Espar engine pre-heating systems, and when appropriate, fuel additives. These tools will help a cold truck get going in the coldest of conditions. Without those helpful tools, you may end up seeing a lot more of our mobile repair trucks!
We all know that when diesel fuel gets cold, it turns into gel. Engines are designed to use liquid fuel, so gel in the tank won’t help you!
If your fuel has turned into gel, there is not much you can do except call us as soon as possible. To prevent gelling though, you need to keep your fuel warm enough. This is easy to do when your truck is running, but if it’s sitting, then you will need to make sure, like we mentioned above, that you are using winter-grade fuel.
Make sure your fuel is ASTM D-975 Grade 1 diesel when you know the temperatures will drop below -12C. On most British Columbia highways in winter, the temperature will often be below that. Although you might presume that all fuel stations would naturally transition to this winter grade of diesel, often times that transition happens much earlier in northern BC than it does, for instance, in the Lower Mainland. Watch the fuel grade at the pumps carefully, especially if you are leaving the BC Coast to head inland.
When your windows ice up, losing visual of the road puts you in a high risk situation. Losing sight of the road isn’t just an inconvenience – like struggling to cold-start a truck – it’s a safety issue for you and all road users around you.
Our truck repair team have some tips for windshield wipers. First, have a backup pair of wipers and know how to install them. Second, check the condition of your wipers regularly. If there’s snow and ice forming on them, manually brush it off. Third, make sure your washer fluid reservoir is filled with the appropriate temperature-rated washer fluid before you start, and keep it appropriately filled.
Our team at Munden Ventures hopes you have a safe and problem-free season driving this winter! However, if you find yourself stuck and in need of a mobile repair truck, give us a call. We’re happy to help out.
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