With winter finally upon us the time for doing last minute maintenance on your truck is too. The colder weather can hurt your truck from top to bottom and if you’re not prepared for it, you can easily get stuck out in the cold.
Basic cold weather truck maintenance isn’t hard, and should be done whenever the weather starts to get cold for the year. No matter how much snow you see in your area or what the lowest temperature you experience is; cold weather maintenance is something every truck owner should do. We’ve compiled the top five tips to get your truck ready for cold weather, so check it out and make yourself a checklist and be safer and better prepared this winter season.
1. Battery Test and Replacement
The most important piece of cold weather preventative maintenance you can do for your truck is to make sure the battery is working 100%. Cold weather kills batteries, which means when you try to start your truck to go home on an extra cold night it might not start. This is doubly important if your truck is a diesel. A bad battery is a surefire way to get yourself stuck.
Take your truck to an auto parts store or better yet, to the dealership and have your battery tested every winter if it’s more than a year old. You want to pay attention to the charge number but also the cold crank as well, since this is what helps you get your truck started after it’s been sitting for a few hours in the cold. If you notice the numbers starting to drop, pick up a new battery as soon as possible. Don’t put this off or else you’ll be calling someone for a ride this winter.
2. Check Your Tires
In most parts of the country colder weather brings with it lots of snow. Even if you have a solid 4x4, you can still lose control and crash if you don’t have proper tires installed. Ideally you should have a set of winter tires to use in the colder months, but if not you still need to check your current tires to make sure they can handle the level of snow your area gets.
First check the tread and make sure you’re within the specs for your specific tire. This is most easily done by heading to a reputable tire shop or your dealership. If you have a 4x4 and your tires could use replacing, make sure to replace all four at once, no matter how the tread is on your best tires. It’s tempting to only replace the bad tires, but doing this will give you uneven traction.
After checking tread, check the tire pressure for each tire INCLUDING your spare. Make sure they’re all within spec and if one seems abnormally low check it again in a week to make sure there’s not a puncture or leak in it.
3. Replace Your Cabin Air Filter
A heater in your truck isn’t just a comfort device but instead keeps you safe, especially if you’re stuck. Every truck has a cabin air filter that the air blowing into the cabin passes through. This helps keep dust and other particulates out of the cabin and out of your lungs.
The cabin air filter is one of the most ignored filters in a truck, but the cleanliness of it is what determines how easily heat blows into the cabin. Make sure to replace this at least once every year and your heater will be blowing as full capacity, not blocked by collected junk it most likely has on it right now.
4. Flush Your Coolant System
Speaking of your heater, you might not know this, but your heat actually comes from the coolant system in your truck. By blowing air over the hot coolant that’s already passed through your engine you get hot air to keep you warm.
Your engine needs quality coolant to keep running smoothly, and in the winter you need extra antifreeze mixed in to make sure your coolant doesn’t freeze overnight. When it starts getting cold you should have your coolant system flushed, or at least your fluid changed to make sure you’re running with the best coolant available.
5. Replace Wiper Blades
Finally, make winter the time you replace your wiper blades. Replacing these once per year isn’t difficult and can make sure you can see where you’re going when the roads are dirty and slushy.
Most automotive parts stores will even install them for you for free, so there’s really no reason to not have fully functioning windshield wipers for the winter. While you’re at it, refill your washer fluid with the anti ice variety and you’ll be able to quickly and easily de-ice your windshield.