Wadhams’ Seasonal Checklist: Winter Maintenance for Our Fleet
Cold weather is approaching, and that means that it’s time to get into high gear with seasonal preparations. While many companies use all-weather equipment, preventing the need to change to winter tires and cold-weather fluids, there are still a number of extra steps that should be taken to ensure that everyone is ready when the mercury dips.
- Fuel Treatments
Diesel fuel becomes more viscous in colder temperatures, and can even gel to the point where it no longer flows through fuel lines. According to some sources, this is especially the case with ULSD (ultra-low sulfur diesel – the kind most widely available in the U.S. since 2006), which seems to gel more readily than previous, less-refined grades of diesel. To prevent issues, trucks’ winter fuel (including the fuel they purchase from other suppliers and retailers) should be pre-treated with additives to keep it from gelling when the temperature drops.
- Tire Chains
For trucks that use all-weather tires, there’s no need to switch them unless they’re due for a scheduled change. Companies should, however, equip drivers with snow chains (and train them in how and when to use them) so that they have them on-hand if the need arises. Tire chains provide much better traction in icy conditions, which is extremely important for larger, heavier vehicles. They’re also required in some states, so drivers need to be prepared, especially if they travel through these areas.
- Sleeper Bunk Heaters
As part of regular inspections, ensure that the bunks of sleeper cabs have fully functioning heating units—an absolutely crucial amenity for drivers who are out on the road during the colder months. This isn’t just a winter pre-check, though; cabs’ climate control should also be checked in the summer, to make sure that drivers have working air-conditioning when the weather heats up.
- Seasonal Tools
In addition to snow chains, it’s important to make sure that drivers have cold-weather necessities like ice scrapers, extra road salt and a shovel. That way they’re prepared if the weather takes an unexpected turn. It’s also important to remind them to bring winter gear, extra clothing, and extra provisions. Examples include a hat, non-slip winter boots, warm work gloves, water bottles, snacks and/or energy bars, a lighter, flashlight, etc. These are important in case drivers get snowed in along their route.
- Mental Preparedness
Another often overlooked aspect of winter readiness is ensuring that staff are mentally prepared for the challenges of colder weather. As all experienced drivers know, trucking through snow and ice presents a number of unique challenges—including the need to be vigilant about seasonal hazards like black ice and snow squalls—so it’s important to be extra careful at this time of year.
Winter driving presents its own set of challenges, but the right tools and preparation make it easier to stay ahead of the game. As with so many other things, it’s important to take the time to prepare—mentally and physically—for the demands of seasonal changes. That way you’ll be well equipped, no matter what Mother Nature brings your way.