Is your truck ready for winter?

We're pretty lucky here in central California. Winter for us is a day when you might feel the need for a light sweater, once a year. But most of the country is not so lucky. Winter is coming, and the predictions are that this year, our neighbors to the north are in for a cooler, wetter winter. According to NOAA’s US winter forecast , the southern half of the country will experience warm and dry conditions this winter, while up north wetter than average conditions are expected across the country from the Pacific Northwest to the Northern Plains.

While we may be warm and toasty down here in California, any travel north may be a little hazardous this winter. Many of our customers operate fleets and do business out of state, so it’s a good time to start preparing for winter driving conditions, especially if you drive a heavy-duty truck or semi. As a California Fuel and Lubricant supplier, we’ve assembled some great winter driving preparation tips for your rig and some of our recommended products to use.

Five areas to inspect or replace on your rig before winter driving:

  • Check your battery. Cold weather can drain a battery quickly. Do a thorough inspection or replace a battery that is close to the end of its shelf life.
  • Check your fuel filter and water separator. Fuel filters will wear out faster in winter driving conditions due to the increased contaminants from snow, ice, salt, rock chips, or ice melt. Change out or inspect your filters more frequently during heavy winter driving use. Make sure to check your water daily to ensure that it’s not too full or beginning to ice over during severe cold.
  • Check your air dryer: Your air dryer helps to prevent water from entering the brake lines. The increased precipitation that you will experience during winter driving can harm your brakes and engine.
  • Check your tire pressure. Cold weather can cause tires to deflate and wear down faster. You want to ensure that you have good tread for optimum traction on icy roads.
  • Check your engine block heater. First, make sure you have a block heater. Cold starts in the winter without one can be very difficult, and you may have to boost your engine to get it started, especially on diesel vehicles. Make sure to plug in your block heater to a power outlet when you are stopped for long periods of time.

A special note on coolant systems:
It may seem strange to worry about your coolant system during winter travel, but this part of the engine is very susceptible to cold weather. A coolant system directs liquid coolant throughout the engine block. The fluid heats up as it travels through the engine and is then cooled from the air that enters through the front grill. A thermostat is part of the system and is used to ensure the coolant stays above a certain temperature. If the coolant falls below the preset temperature, it will not circulate as well, and the engine will either overheat or freeze. Coolant fluids must be able to withstand temperatures below freezing and above 250 degrees without boiling. That’s a huge order for any fluid.

To keep your coolant fluid flowing properly, you may need to use anti-freeze. Chevron lubricants have a wide variety of products that are great to use. We recommend Delo® XLC Antifreeze/Coolant from Chevron. This product is designed to provide extended protection for both heavy-duty and lightweight trucks and equipment. It helps protect against pitting, corrosion, erosion, maintaining heat transfer, and protecting against winter freeze. It can also be used with conventional antifreeze if you need extra protection for your engine in severe winter weather.

Thoroughly inspect all areas of the coolant system, including tubing, gears, and filters. Once water or other contaminants enter this system, especially in cold weather, it can be very hard on your engine and cause a breakdown.

Make sure to use winterized diesel.
Diesel fuel is particularly prone to issues in cold weather. In cold weather, the paraffin wax in diesel can solidify and bind together. This is called gelling, and it can make it difficult for the fuel to ignite when cold. You can tell if your fuel has started to gel when it reaches the cloud point. This term describes a white haze or cloud that appears when the paraffin wax begins to solidify. Once this begins to happen, the wax will collect on the fuel filter and plug the engine. This is known as the Cold Filter Plugging Point (CFPP) , and this measurement is used to show the lowest possible point the fuel can still pass through the filter and ignite. Once the fuel is below this point, it may be more difficult to start the engine until it warms up.

To avoid this problem, winterized diesel was created. This diesel fluid is a mixture of grade 1 and grade 2 diesel. Grade one diesel contains kerosene and no paraffin wax. Different geological areas blend these two diesel fuels to create winterized diesel fuel for their climate. This diesel fuel contains less paraffin wax and will operate better in cold weather temperatures. You can use winter diesel once the temperature drops below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Even though we don’t have a ton of need for winterized diesel in southern California, we still offer it for our customers to order. Trust us as a wholesale diesel fuel supplier to have the right winter diesel you need to hit the winter roads this year. We carry a wide variety of diesel fuels, including Chevron Diesel Fuel, for all of your fuel needs.

Winter travel can always be a little treacherous, especially if you are not used to it. A little preparation can go a long way to helping you stay safe on the roads. When you are driving, follow these tips to stay safe:

  • Pack emergency supplies in case of a breakdown.
  • Give yourself extra room on the highway and avoid traveling as part of a pack of vehicles.
  • Make sure to have a fully charged cell phone or radio to call for help if needed.
  • Make sure to leave a detailed travel plan with your dispatch or employer.
  • Carry winter gear.
  • Drive to the conditions of the road and leave yourself extra stopping room.
  • If the weather is too poor for driving, stay off the roads.

We want our customers to stay safe no matter where they have to travel this winter. Follow our tips and suggestions to keep your rig in good working condition, no matter how cold it may get on your travels.