Winter Semi Truck Maintance Tips To Minimize Engine Stress

Purchasing a used semi truck is a smart idea if you want to save money as an individual starting a shipping business. You should understand that used semis often have engines that have been driven hundreds of thousands of miles and it is not rare for a semi to retain an engine up to and past the million mile mark. While this is true, you should know that engines need more than a bit of TLC, especially in the winter. If you are buying your truck now during the warmer months, then it is wise to start preparing now for the colder season. Keep reading to learn about a few tips that can help you.

Purchase A Block Heater

Many diesel trucks are made with block heaters or are equipped with aftermarket varieties. A typical heater is an electric type that is bolted directly to the engine block itself. The device works to supply heat through direct contact with engine block itself. This helps to keep the engine warm so the coolant is not affected by ambient temperatures. This helps the engine both start and run when the outdoor temperatures drop close to or below freezing.

You should understand that a block heater does not actually heat the engine. It is meant to reduce heat loss once the engine is turned off. For this reason, you need to use the heater in the appropriate way. You cannot simply turn the heater on for a few hours after the semi has been sitting in the freezing temperatures overnight and expect it to run. Not only may your older truck not turn over, but cold starts place a great deal of stress on commercial vehicles. This specific issue is called a cold soak and it can lead to something called wet stacking. Wet stacking is when incomplete combustion occurs in the engine when it is too cold. This can cause residue from unburned fuel to stick to the inside of the engine and it can lead to the need for a rebuild within a short period of time. 

Preventing cold soaks and wet stacking means plugging in your block heater as soon as you turn off your truck for the day. The majority of heaters have three prong plugs that can be plugged into an outdoor extension cord and then inserted into an outside power outlet. Of course, you need to make sure that the truck has a heater in the first place. Ask the seller of the truck and make sure that you purchase and install a heater if it does not have one. If you need to buy one, then you must look at the heater specifications in regard to engine size and temperature range. 

You may also want to think about a dipstick or oil warmer and a fuel warming system as well.

Purchase The Right Fuel Mix

If you have driven newer semis under someone else's shipping business or if you have not driven a truck during the winter yet, then you may not know that older, used semis may have significant starting problems if you do not add the correct fuel mix into the fuel tank. Winter fuel mixes are ideal and they have included additives that reduce the clouding or waxing point of the fuel. This means that the diesel will not thicken until it reaches a much lower temperature. Typically, the clouding point is well above freezing, but the additive can reduce the clouding point by 20 degrees or more. 

Keep in mind that even with fuel additives and winter mixes, waxing can occur around the fuel filter. If you are driving a lot in the wintertime, then the filter can clog relatively quickly. This can lead to reduced fuel moving to the engine and stress on the engine block. If your engine will not seem to start in colder weather even when the block heater is on, then this is a good sign that the filter need to investigated and replaced. 

For more information about used freightliner trucks, talk to representatives at companies like Arrow Truck Sales.


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