How to Prep Vehicles for Winter Weather

How to prep vehicles for winter weather.

Here is a roundup of guidelines for winterizing vehicles from some of these manufacturers.


George Daniels, vice president of service operations for Hino Trucks, says when going into the winter season, the company advises its customers to pay attention to:

Tires: To maximize traction, make sure tire air pressures are correct and tread condition is good.

Brakes and ABS: Inspect brake lining condition and check for leaking wheel seals. Ensure proper braking from each wheel and operation of ABS to keep control and minimize skidding.

Wipers, washers, heaters and defrosters: These need to be in good working order to allow clear vision at all times.

Fuel system: To minimize chances of fuel gelling, maintain fuel filters, drain fuel water separators and fuel tanks of any accumulated water. Verify operation of the fuel heater, if equipped.

Air system: Drain all air tanks daily. Service the air drier.

Batteries and charging systems: Check and clean all battery connections. Load test to verify battery condition. Check starter condition and operation. Check charging system for proper operation.

Cooling system: Verify protection level and quality of the coolant. Check all fan belts and coolant hoses.

Block heater: Check for proper operation.


Brian Tabel, Isuzu Commercial Truck of America’s retail marketing manager, says it is important to focus on the engine, operating systems and tires when the weather starts cooling down.


Vitals areas that should be checked:

  • Fuel filter and water separator. If neglected, they can contribute to hard starting. Case in point, if water is permitted to accumulate in the primary filter it will freeze and make starting the engine impossible.
  • Fuel tank vent. Make sure it is open.
  • Refuel at the end of a day’s operation. Moisture will condense in an empty fuel tank. Therefore, fuel tanks should be filled before leaving the vehicle standing for an extended period of time.
  • Check the type of oil being used. Using the proper viscosity oil will make starting easier down to -10 degrees F. Consult the vehicle’s owner’s manual for the recommended oil viscosity.
  • For weather below -10 degrees F, consider adding an engine block or oil pan heater to make starting easier.
  • Winterize the cooling system. Use a 50/50 mixture (48/52 for colder climates) of the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended coolant and water for freeze protection. Maintaining the cooling system also prevents overheating during warmer climate operation.
  • Do not use “starting aids” in the air intake system. Such products can cause immediate engine damage.
  • Check that all fluids are at their proper level.


Be aware that diesel fuel is sensitive to temperature, warns Tabel. “Consider the chemistry. All diesel fuel contains paraffin components which are high in energy value and help improve fuel economy.

“But, when temperatures dip below 20 degrees F, the paraffin components begin turning into wax flakes, and if temperatures are low enough, these flakes can obstruct the fuel filters and stop fuel from reaching the engine leaving the vehicle stranded and cold.”

At low temperatures, wax flakes are more likely to form in Number 2-D fuel than in Number 1-D, or “winterized” Number 2-D fuel, he says. “For best operation at temperatures below 20 degrees F, use Number 1-D or Number 2-D that has been blended with Number 1-D for winter use.

“When temperatures are consistently below or near 0 degrees F, use Number 1-D if at all possible. Bear in mind, however, that even Number 1-D fuel will form wax flakes when temperatures are extremely low.”


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