Get Winter Ready

October 9, 2018

Get Winter Ready

By Jim Fowler

It’s that time of year again to get your truck ready for winter weather. Making sure you are prepared now for the travel conditions that you will encounter can save you time and keep you safe.

One of the items I found myself dealing with in a snowstorm was lights that quit working. Newer trucks with better sealed plugs and LED lighting have very few problems however, if you have an older truck I recommend unplugging the lights and adding a dab of dielectric grease to the prongs. This will prevent corrosion in the connector and alleviate most light problems. Remember LED lights create much less heat and you will need to carry a small whisk broom or windshield brush to clear away snow and ice that could build up. Always make sure to check and clean the lights often throughout your shift.

Frozen locks can also wreak havoc on your day. Using a quality lock lubricant, like Gunk’s liquid wrench lock lubricant and deicer, will help. A quick spray and a little patience will open it right up without breaking a key! 

If your operation finds you in the northern part of the country, October is a good time to buy windshield washer solvent with a freeze protection additive in it. Also replacing or carrying a spare set of wiper blades is a must. I prefer the metal framed blades with a rubber cover over them for winter time. They are more rigid than plastic frame blades and remove snow and ice better.

Having a small bag of cat litter can get you out of jam in an ice-covered parking lot or dock, a handful thrown under each drive tire and spread a couple feet in front of them will get you out of a slippery situation.

Draining air tanks daily will prevent frozen brake lines. You may want to consider an air brake conditioner like that from FPPF. Remember, alcohol-based brake line anti-freeze products should only be used in an emergency not as a preventative. Alcohol will dry out rubber lines and brake chamber diaphragms and cause future maintenance issues.

A good pair of jumper cables are priceless! I bought a heavy duty extra-long set of jumper cables in 1993, and they have been with me every mile since. If you have a set of cables you can usually get someone to help you with a jumpstart. If you don’t have jumper cables and will need to not only find a set of cables but someone willing to help you, you could be in for a challenge.

Your fuel purchases require extra thought too. Most truck stops only add winter additives even if the local forecast calls for freezing temperatures. If you purchase your fuel in Tennessee on a run to Minnesota, you should add fuel anti gel fuel conditioner, such as those from Howes or Power Service, and top off in the colder climate. If you find that your tanks have gelled, both Howes and Power Service provide additives to help with thawing the fuel.

I can’t talk about winter readiness without mentioning personal safety. Even if you don’t think you will need it, make sure to carry a warm hat, gloves, coat, socks and maybe even a pair of insulated coveralls. If you break down, you will be glad you did!


Jim Folwer is a member of the RoadPro Pro Council and an owner-operator leased to Landstar. Recently receiving the million-mile safety award from Landstar, he has been in trucking industry for over 25 years and hauls poisonous hazmat loads through the Midwest to California.