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Cold Weather Checklist

As temperatures continue to drop this winter, the list of items that need to be checked on your customers’ trucks gets longer. It starts with coolant, diesel fuel and Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF), but prolonged or extreme cold weather require additional maintenance measures to ensure reliable performance.

  • Coolant/Antifreeze – In cold climates, coolant is the first line of defense, helping warm the engine and components. When the thermometer registers between 30°F and 50°F, starting aids such as a coolant heater or intake manifold heater may be beneficial. Multiple starting aids may be needed when the weather is below -10°F. A winterfront can help keep coolant temperatures in the proper range. To maintain cabin temps, the coolant needs to stay above 140°F. This is achieved at around 800-1000 rpm in normal conditions and around 1200 rpm in subzero conditions. Prolonged idling to maintain cabin temperatures for drivers can use a significant amount of fuel. Customers seeking to minimize fuel use should consider adding an Auxiliary Power Unit (APU).
  • Fuel– It is important to ensure fuel fluidity. Customers can blend No. 1 and No. 2 fuels or use winterized diesel to help prevent waxing. If needed, add a fuel warmer (an integrated heating element in the fuel filter) to the system.
  • Diesel Exhaust Fluid – The DEF tank is designed with integrated heating elements to thaw the DEF. The amount of time taken to liquefy the DEF can vary based on the ambient temperature or operating conditions. Customers may benefit by periodically checking to ensure that the system is thawing properly.
  • Air Intake – The intake system can be modified to pull air for combustion from within the engine compartment in temperatures below the freezing point, and from the area adjacent to the exhaust manifold when temperatures are consistently below -25°F. This will improve ignition and combustion.
  • Battery – Customers should periodically check amperage to ensure enough cold weather cranking capacity. In extreme cold conditions, engines should be outfitted with a battery warmer to reduce temperature loss.
  • Oil – While multiviscosity oils are good for all seasons, lighter-weight diesel engine oils such as 5W-30 provide better cold-starting ability. In subzero driving conditions, customers should consider switching to a 0W-30 engine oil. Dipstick oil heaters will help maintain lubricity of the oil.

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