Although we’re past the middle of winter, temperatures out there are still low meaning extra care should be taken on certain aspects of your vehicle to avoid winter woes. It is opportune therefore that FleetWatch received a few winter maintenance tips from Midas which we think are worth highlighting as reminders to ensure trouble free trucking.
“Winter temperatures in South Africa can have a real impact on your vehicle with the cold season magnifying problems such as hard starts, sluggish performance and rough idling,” says Michael Turnbull, Midas Group marketing manager. He’s right, so here are five tips which Midas says will help you get through the rest of winter. Of course, they are applicable to both cars and trucks so let’s all follow them.
Your vehicle’s cooling system protects the engine against damage by ensuring that it operates within normal temperature ranges. Antifreeze lowers the freezing point of the coolant and raises its boiling point, so for your vehicle’s cooling system to work effectively, its antifreeze levels must be kept topped up and the system shouldn’t contain rust, dirt or mineral deposits. Antifreeze also makes it easy to notice any leaks in the system.
Care for your battery
Batteries tend to give more problems during winter as a result of the increased amps drawn to crank the cold engine. The best way to avoid winter troubles is to ensure your battery is in good working order: keep its water (electrolyte) level topped up and clean the terminals regularly with warm (not hot) soapy water and remove any acid or dirt which may have accumulated on the battery case.
Always check your windscreen and wipers
If your truck has to stay out in the cold – which most of them do every night – there will probably be a layer of frost blanketing the windscreen in the mornings. Don’t be tempted to use warm water to get rid of the ice as this may cause cracks in the glass. Rather use a scraper – an old credit card works well. Wiper blades must be in good condition and need to be inspected regularly. Don’t use your wipers to clear mud and soil from the windscreen – this could scratch the glass.
Make sure your tyres are in good shape
Tyres must always be in an overall good condition – not only the tread but the sidewalls as well. And maintaining tyres at the correct pressures is of the utmost importance for optimum road-holding and tyre life.
Check your lights
Winter usually means more driving in the dark, so it’s important that all the lights on the vehicle are in good working condition and that the focus of the headlights is correctly adjusted.
Stock your vehicle
And for long haul truckers as well as motorists embarking on long journeys, as an extra precaution, keep your vehicle stocked with extra food, jumper cables, a torch, extra blankets and clothes, bottled water and a basic first-aid kit. Do all that and you’ll make it through the rest of winter with ease – unless of course, your truck is blown over on the road as has happened once again over the past two days near the Huguenot tunnel due to high winds.
SANRAL must really look at monitoring the wind on that section of the N1 and close the road when the winds reach a certain strength – before trucks are blown over, not after the fact.