How to Winterize Your Food Truck

By Steven W. Easley |

Winterizing your truck is an essential part of maintaining it and keeping unnecessary costs down. As a business owner you’ll want to save as much as possible and prolong the life of your biggest business investment, your truck. Maintaining your truck and preparing it for winter driving is something you will need to plan for in advance and do each year without fail. Operating a commercial vehicle during adverse weather and winter conditions can be dangerous as well as costly.

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      Begin by collecting items that will help you to survive in the event your vehicle becomes stranded because of adverse weather. Extra food, blankets and other medical and survival supplies should be part of your winterization plan.

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      Inspect your vehicle thoroughly for damage or worn parts and replace as needed. Examine the truck in a systemic pattern to ensure you cover all areas thoroughly; some inspections will overlap. Write out a checklist in advance and revise it as needed to add areas and notes in the event additional parts or service is required. Begin with the front of the truck and work around the truck in a clockwise manner much as you would during a pre-trip and post-trip inspection.

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      Check the engine compartment for any loose, worn or damaged wires and hoses. Inspect the hoses for any bulges, which might indicate possible weak spots; check hose clamps to ensure they are secure and not damaged. Inspect the radiator for leaks and add winter blend antifreeze. Test the freeze point and additive concentration. Inspect the belts and replace as needed. Check the oil and oil block heater unit. Add winter blend wiper fluid and inspect wiper blades; replace as needed.

    • 4

      Test the air compressor and air dryer system; drain any water from the air tanks. Inspect the values and check system operation. Check the air lines for any water traps and leaks. Drain the air reservoirs periodically and do not add any fluids to the air lines. Use the dummy air line connectors on the rear of the cab when not connected to a trailer to prevent debris and excess water from getting into the system. Do not add methanol in the air lines on modern air dryer systems as this will damage the internal components.

    • 5

      Check the heater system and replace the in cab filter. Test heater performance and inspect vents and heater door panels to insure they are operating correctly. In older trucks, a valve on the engine has to be opened to permit heated water to flow through the system.

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      Inspect the electrical system. Check the alternator, starter and batteries. Check the condition of the batteries and perform a load test of each one. Inspect the electrical wiring for frays or other damage. Check the truck and trailer thoroughly and insure that you have emergency fuses on hand. Periodically inspect for any loose, exposed or hanging wires where ice and snow can collect.

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      Check the fuel system and insure there is no water in the diesel fuel. Check water separator and ensure that it is operating properly. Add winter fuel additive to the system to prevent the fuel from gelling in extreme cold weather.

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      Check the exhaust system to insure there are no leaks. A leaking exhaust system can result in dangerous fumes entering the sleeping area of the truck.

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      Inspect tires thoroughly and make certain they are inflated to the proper pressure rating. Check the tire chains for worn, twisted or damaged links; also ensure that you have the proper number and size of chains required for your truck.