Summer Weather Maintenance Tips

Preparing trucks for summer weather

Caring for, and maintaining vehicles, during the summer months is just as important as in the winter. Like cold weather conditions, summer’s hot and dry weather causes additional stresses on vehicles as well.

Making the time now to summarize vehicles will help them take the heat and keep operating efficiently.

A good starting point is the truck’s engine cooling system, which is designed to protect an engine from the destructive forces of too much heat and keep it operating at its most efficient temperature. In hot weather, the coolant temperature is raised. As a result, the cooling system has to work harder to keep the engine from overheating.


Research has shown that an estimated 40 percent of engine downtime is caused by cooling system problems. Yet, cooling system problems are virtually 100 percent preventable.

Even one cooling system overheat can severely damage a truck engine, observes Sandy Darnell, president of Radiator Works. Therefore, it is well worth the time and effort to regularly perform certain maintenance checks and replace the low-cost wear parts to maintain a properly functioning engine cooling system.

Radiator Works is a full-service manufacturer and distributor of heat transfer components and parts and services for lift trucks, buses and commercial trucks.

She recommends the following preventive practices:

  • Inspect the inside of the radiator for corrosion, and check to be sure the coolant is clean and pure, with no rust or other impurities. Coolant should be drained and flushed annually - at a minimum.
  • Inspect the radiator cap for cracks and/or swelling, and replace it every time the coolant is drained and flushed.
  • Perform a cooling system pressure test. This, too, should be done, at a minimum, on an annual basis.
  • Inspect the exterior of the radiator and the air conditioner cooling coils for excessive debris buildup or fin damage, and clean as necessary.
  • Inspect all radiator and heater core hoses and lines for excessive mushiness and hardness, and check for cracks and leaks. Be sure all the connections are tight. Replace hoses every two years.
  • Inspect belts for wear and tension, and test the function of the tensioner arm. Replace the belts every one to two years.
  • Replace the thermostat every two years.
  • Inspect the water pump for leaks, and verify that the engine maintains a temperature within the manufacturer’s specification.
  • Run the truck heater to verify that the system functions properly.


Obviously, good cooling system preventive maintenance practices include the coolant itself, which, officials at Penray recommend, should be checked every 500 operating hours, 20,000 miles or three months, whichever comes first.

Penray is the leader in cooling system technology.

Further, they say it is important to “know your coolant” because of the many different colors and chemistries available.

Coolant comes in all different colors, note the officials, and the color indicates the kind of coolant and how it is to be maintained. Mixing of technologies and not maintaining them correctly can lead to cooling system problems.

Regardless of the color, all coolants should have one thing in common, they say. All should be clear. Coolant that appears cloudy or has particulates floating could be an indication of bigger problems.

The Penray officials stress the need to maintain and monitor coolant chemical levels. Depending on the type of coolant in an engine, there are different maintenance practices that need to be adhered to, including the engine manufacturer’s drain intervals for the coolant type.


Hotter weather conditions necessitate that greater attention be paid to tire inflation pressure.

The most critical factor in tire maintenance is proper inflation, according to tire industry officials.

With correct tire inflation, there is the proper contact with the road surface, they say. That promotes traction and braking capability, plus reduces irregular and rapid tread wear. All of this helps with safer vehicle operation.

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