Commercial vehicles are very important to the U.S. economy due to their incredible product hauling capacity. These trucks are used by companies all year long to transport both heavy goods and large quantities of goods in a single load.
In addition to their capacity for hauling a large amount of goods, semi-trucks often travel long distances which makes them an efficient choice for hauling goods across the United States. One thing to note, however, is that semi-trucks don’t have a set operating season. These heavy-duty haulers operate through every season of the year.
While most seasons are fairly easy for semi-truck drivers, the winter season can cause problems due to extreme weather conditions. From snow and ice-covered roads to below zero temperatures, travel becomes more difficult with breakdowns delaying on-time deliveries and creating driver downtime.
Semi-Truck Problems That Occur In Wintertime
With the cold and blustery weather that the winter season brings, worn tires, the wrong fuel, and poor maintenance can create mechanical problems for commercial vehicles which could in many cases have been prevented. Here are a few issues that semi-trucks encounter during their winter delivery season.
- Problematic Tires: Tires are one of the causes of wintertime semi-truck breakdowns, and this is due to the drop in temperature. As temperatures decrease, this causes the air molecules to slow down, which then results in compressed air. This change in air pressure typically causes tires to deflate, leaving your truck with improperly inflated tires and a greater risk of tire blow-outs, and can also cause premature tire wear.
- Faulty Electrical Connections: While road salt, magnesium and calcium chlorides are an effective preventative measure in keeping cars from slipping on icy roadways, these chemicals can corrode your truck’s electrical connections. Common issues stemming from these corrosions include faulty headlights and taillights, wire harnesses, and the power cable between the tractor and the trailer. Not to mention issues with your reefer and many other important parts of the trucks which need a stable electric connection to function properly.
- Windshield Visibility: There’s nothing worse than driving in rain, snow or ice when your windshield wipers or windshield defrost aren’t functioning as they should. This piece of your truck is arguably one of the most important safety aspects that affects your driving. If your truck’s windshield clearing mechanisms aren’t working properly, this could put both yourself and surrounding drivers in danger.
- Dangerous Roads: Worn tires become an issue when the roads are covered with snow or ice, this situation can cause a host of dangerous possibilities. Every year, countless semi-trucks get stuck entering on-ramps or end up in ditches when getting onto exit ramps. While these are two common scenarios that occur, there are plenty of others including slipping on black ice, experiencing high winds that blow the trailer around and the increased threat of other cars being affected by the snowy and icy roads.
While all of these dangers can produce unfortunate consequences, there are a few ways in which you can do your part to prevent these events from happening and causing bad results. Whether they will end up keeping you and your truck safe or the drivers around you safe, these are good practices to remember when driving in wintry weather conditions.
Semi-Truck Winter Breakdown Prevention
- Check Battery Health: Checking the health of your batteries during winter is a very important way to prevent yourself from being stranded with a dead battery. With the cold weather oftentimes comes freezing batteries, it’s important to stay on top of your battery’s health. Before heading out on the roads, check its health to ensure you will be good to go on the roads. Also, it’s a great idea to carry an extra battery or a portable jump start kit for emergency situations.
- Ensure Proper Tire Inflation: Your tire quality and inflation are crucial during the winter season. As winter rolls around and the first snowfalls are happening, checking the treads of your tires is a great practice to implement. Wearing treads will minimize the truck’s traction to the roadway and increase the chances of slipping. Also, make sure to refill the air pressure of your tire at regular intervals
- Fuel & Cooling System: Adding high quality fuel additives to your fuel tank is a great way to protect your fuel from underperforming or gelling up during the extremely cold days. Also, make sure to regularly check your cooling system to ensure that the radiator and other components are running smoothly with nothing freezing up or breaking down. Look out for any leaks or cracks before starting your travels.
- Pack An Emergency Kit: During winter, even though you can perform all the preventative maintenance to keep your truck on the roadways, systems and truck parts can fail at a moment’s notice. For these situations, having an emergency kit on hand can be just what you need to stay safe or get your truck up and running. To cover all of your bases for any situation that may happen, it helps to pack your truck’s emergency kit with tools such as a shovel, emergency flares, windshield scrapers, flashlights, an extra layer of clothes and fluids, among other items.
- Check Forecast Regularly: One of the most important things to keep in mind when you’re about to set out on your truck route is the weather. Looking at the forecast and seeing what kind of weather you’re to expect will prepare you for the journey ahead. This can also help guide your decisions on what to pack in your emergency kit and where your pit stops will be.
Semi-Truck Driving In Winter
Winter semi-truck driving is a challenge for many in the United States. With an increased number of dangers to look out for, it’s important to stay alert and keep your truck and fleets operating as smooth as possible.
If you’re located in the greater Twin Cities, MN area and you’re needing high quality semi-truck repair, part installation, or any other type of service, contact the truck professionals at Blaine Brothers. Our crew of semi-truck service professionals will provide specialized winterization services that will keep your truck drivers safe and on the road.