Winter is here. Is your truck ready? It's important to prepare your truck for winter weather to protect your safety, protect your truck, and keep your costs down through proactive maintenance. A thorough winterizing service inspects all truck systems, makes necessary repairs to keep you safe and comfortable, and equips your truck with the right systems, fluids, and tires to make it through a grueling winter. Learn the 13 things you need to do to get your truck ready for the challenges of winter and how this promotes safe driving.
1. Get your truck serviced
Heading into winter, get your truck serviced. A proper truck servicing should take care of any general maintenance needs, such as new brake pads while preparing your truck for winter. Winterizing services include changing the fluids, checking the light bulbs, checking the brakes, replacing any cracked or worn hoses, and tire rotation and alignment.
2. Check out the battery
Service technicians will usually change the air filter and fluids (think oil, radiator, transmission, brake, and engine). It's wise to have the battery tested since old batteries can struggle in winter weather. If your battery is near the end of its life cycle, replace it going into the winter so you have a reliable, fresh battery. If your battery is still good, make sure all the connections are tight and the mounting is secure.
3. Keep a full tank of gas
It's wise to keep a full tank of gas year round—you never know when an unexpected trip will come up—but in winter, that full tank of gas dos double duty by keeping your gas lines from freezing.
When you fall below a half tank of gas, moisture can form in the gas lines and freeze. When the tank is full, there's no room for moisture, thus no chance of freezing.
4. Top up engine coolant with antifreeze
Engine coolant prevents engine rust and corrosion, which can shorten the lifespan of your truck. Coolant also stops water from freezing or boiling and lubricates moving parts, so your truck runs as it should. While coolant is important year round, come winter, you've got to top off coolant with antifreeze to keep everything working properly.
Weekly or monthly, depending on your driving habits, check the coolant levels and top off with antifreeze to the fill line, which is a plastic ridge on the chamber. If the coolant is colorless or has debris floating in the chamber, you should flush it rather than top off the coolant.
5. Check the condition of your tires
If your tires are worn, they will have a difficult time gripping the road, which could cause you to skid. Throughout winter, check the condition of your tires and replace any worn tires to stay safe. While some truck drivers swear by all season tires, winter tires are a smart idea if you expect heavy snow. They have a more flexible tread, capable of gripping a road in frozen temperatures.
Tires should also be inflated by an extra 3 to 5 psi during the winter month, as this increases tire responsiveness and makes the tires more stable.
6. Use floor mats
Place floor mats in your truck before winter weather turns ugly: Snow, sleet, ice and mud (as spring approaches) can soil the interior of your truck. Floor mats also protect your truck's resale value by preserving the condition of the flooring.
Look for floor mats that are made for your make and model of truck, so the fit is exact, and that fasten to the floor so they can't slide around and compromise driver safety. Take YITAMOTOR floor mats as an example that completely line the floor and side walls of the footwell that, guards against splashing. They also have a grippy surface that prevents skidding. These floor mats contain spills using a unique channeling system that carries fluids away from passengers and prevents fluid movement during transit. The floor mats install easily and come out quickly, for fast cleaning. They are cost effective and engineered for quality.
7. Make sure the heater and defroster are in good working condition
A working heater not only keeps you comfortable during winter, but it also protects your safety. When the heater or defroster are compromised, driver visibility is reduced. Your mechanic should check the heater and defroster during a winter tune-up; however, if you don't think the heat or defrost is running as well as it should, have the system inspected.
8. Check windshield washer fluid
Your mechanic should refill windshield washer fluid during a tune-up, but check this monthly throughout winter so you don't run out. It's smart to have extra windshield washer fluid on hand (either in the truck or in your garage) so you can top it up when needed. You'll need the wiper fluid to wash off road salt residue, which can compromise visibility. Your regular windshield wiper fluid should be swapped for the freeze-resistant kind so that you can use it in below-freezing temperatures.10. Leave your hitch installed all winter
Keep your hitch tow, receiver and wiring harness on the truck during winter. You never know when you'll slide off the road in a bad storm and need to be towed out, or when you'll need to come to the rescue of a stranded motorist.
As long as your tow hook is powder coated, it will be corrosion resistant and safe for use throughout winter. YITAMOTOR offers hitches that are rated for 3,500 lbs. If you're concerned about damage from road salt, you can keep a plastic cover over the hitch tow when not in use.
11. Invest in a tonneau cover
To keep snow out of your truck bed, purchase a tonneau cover. These covers go over the truck bed to protect the load from bad weather and high winds. You'll get as much use out of these covers in summer—for instance, when you're bringing home a load of mulch for trees and shrubs—as in the winter when you're protecting your truck bed from sleet and snow.
Soft covers which are made of double layer PVC cost far less than hardcovers and are easy to put in place. Look for soft covers that roll up when not in use for easy access to your truck bed. YITAMOTOR's tonneau covers are snow proof and come with a limited lifetime warranty, making them a great choice for winter.
12. Always carry an emergency kit with you
When you have your emergency kit, you're prepared for a breakdown. A basic emergency kit includes:
●Tire changing tools
In addition to emergency car care needs, keep first aid, medications, bottled water, snacks, and $20 so you can gas up if you need it. For winter, stock up your emergency kit with an ice scraper, broom, small shovel, blanket, and extra hat and gloves.
13. Run your engine outside for a few minutes every morning
Maybe you've heard that you should run your truck engine on winter mornings, but do you know why? The old reason to warm up your ride in winter was to heat up the engine oil, which turned syrupy in winter.
While engine oil nowadays doesn't need to be warmed to work properly, running the truck for 5 minutes warms up the engine—and all those lubricated parts inside. Until the engine is warmed up, you should take it easy on the road (don't gun it up a hill, for instance) to avoid harming the engine.
Diesel engines need a higher cylinder temperature than gas engines, so if you've got a diesel truck, it's all the more important to run the engine before you drive off in winter.
Warming up the car before driving also heats the cabin. When it's so cold you're shivering, you can't possibly pay full attention to the road.
If your truck hasn't been winterized, make an appointment at the mechanic or devote some time to DIY what you can. Do it now, before a big storm is a forecast, to reduce your risk, improve your comfort, and keep all parts of your truck in good working order.