Halloween is approaching, and winter isn’t far behind it! It won’t be long until cold weather hits in earnest and the yearly cycle of vehicle maintenance begins. In the heavy-duty trucking industry, it’s especially important not to skip winter-prepping your vehicles.

As temperatures goes from hot to cold, vehicles that have started and functioned well in warm weather may fail to start. There are several possible explanations for this:

  • weak batteries
  • defective starters
  • excessive voltage drop in the cranking system
  • excessive voltage drop in the charging system

To prevent problems with any of the above issues, it is important that each battery be disconnected from the vehicle and tested to ensure it has both cranking ability and capacity. This testing should be completed every fall.

Once the batteries have been tested (and replaced if needed!) the cranking and charging circuits should be tested for voltage drop. Batteries easily accept current at lower voltages during hot and warm weather, but during cold weather it is more difficult. If there is excessive voltage drop, the batteries’ ability to accept charge will be reduced, leading to potential no-start situations.

Once the above tests have been completed, don’t forget to test the output amps and volts of the alternator and starter to ensure they are also functioning properly. Testing only one or two of the four options we’ve presented here won’t ensure that your vehicle is ready for winter.

Looking for more information about preparing your vehicles for winter? Join Bruce Purkey in his upcoming free Winter Preparation Tips webinar series:

Part 1: November 2, Winterizing Your Tractor (register here)

Part 2: November 16, Winterizing Your Trailer Liftgate System (register here)

Note: these webinars will be available on demand after the live event has been completed—click “register here” for access to both the live event and on demand versions.