ExpressIFTA Blog

Monday, January 4, 2016

Winterizing Your Rig

Well, it’s the beginning of a new year, but it’s also winter, and if you haven’t already winterized your rig, now would be a good time to do so. You may have waited or put it off, especially if your winter’s been particularly mild as it has been here in the Southeast. We know there’s cold weather ahead, though, and it’s always best to be prepared.

Winterizing Basics

Winterizing is an important part of your overall maintenance plan. There are some regions of the U.S. that don’t get cold enough for winterizing to be a concern, but in most areas there are enough cold days to warrant making sure your diesel engine is ready for winter weather.

Winterizing Checklist

There are several important aspects to winterizing, but the most important have to do with fuel, coolant, batteries, and operating temperatures. Let’s have a look at the key elements of this important process.

  • Fuel. Probably the most important consideration of all. Diesel fuel has paraffin wax in it, and this can turn to gel at low temperatures. A crucial point to remember is that diesel fuel is usually prepared and treated for the climate where it is dispensed. What this means for you is that you may buy fuel in a warmer part of the country and end up in a much colder area by day’s end. And if your fuel isn’t treated for that kind of cold weather, you may be in trouble. Perhaps the easiest way to deal with this is by using a fuel additive that prevents gelling. Also, the higher the cetane level in your fuel, the lower the freezing point, and the same with the fuel grade. Buy and prepare accordingly.
  • Water in fuel. Almost all fuel has some water in it. And, of course, water can freeze. Two key elements that keep water to a minimum in your fuel are a fuel filter and an optional water separator. If you operate a good bit of your time in colder weather, a water separator is probably a good investment.
  • Battery. Cold weather will take its toll on a battery quickly, and drain its amperage severely. Have your battery checked and if it’s at the high end of battery life (48-72 months), it may be wise to replace your battery going into the winter or cold weather.
  • Cooling System. Your cooling system of course also contains antifreeze, a key component to keeping an engine at optimal operating temperature. Be sure to check the hoses, belts, and radiator in addition to making sure your antifreeze is adequate.
  • Engine Heater. In colder climates, an engine heater can be an indispensable addition to your rig. This will keep your engine warm when it’s not running so that it doesn’t get too cold.
  • Air Dryer. Most rigs use air brakes, and keeping water and other contaminants from the brake system is crucial to prevent freezing in colder climates.

Other Common Sense Tips

There are other considerations to think about when operating in low temperatures. A lot of these are just common sense for spending time in cold weather, such as checking tires, being aware of what cold can do to key elements of an engine or rig, and especially taking proper care regarding driving conditions, as well as being prepared in case of a breakdown in severe winter weather.

ExpressIFTA is always here to help you out, whether it’s helping you prepare your IFTA return, or giving you good tips for cold weather driving. We’re available at 704.234.6005 and any time at

We always enjoy reading your tweets on our Twitter feed, and your posts on our Facebook page. Join the conversation with us on social media! We need all your feedback to keep giving you the best service possible. Stay warm!

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