Preparing your vehicle for winter temperatures is very important. Colder temperatures affect your vehicles performance and change the way your fuel, tires, gasoline and engine parts run by making things more brittle and freezing them. Freezing weather can also affect your exterior and your visibility can be greatly decreased because of the ice and snow build-up.
Some preparations apply to all vehicles, but diesel engines require some different considerations than gas fueled engines.
Check your vehicle’s equipment for brittleness and cracking. Hoses and belts that are brittle should be changed out for new ones. Inspect your windshield wipers and replace them if they are worn or brittle. Use a windshield wiper fluid and de-icer combo like Splash. It protects to 30 degrees below zero and removes light frost and ice. A product like Prestone Frost & Ice Shield can help stop the accumulation of snow, frost and ice on your windshield and your side windows.
Consider changing your tires to snow tires that are made to handle the winter conditions. Winter tires are designed for increased traction and optimal performance in cold weather conditions. You should also check the cold setting for your tire pressure. Colder temperatures change the pressure of your tires.
You should drain and replace the fluid in your radiator if you don’t have a 50/50 mix of water and anti-freeze. Straight water alone or straight antifreeze alone will freeze; if you use the proper mix then you will prevent this. If you are uncomfortable trying to get the mix right on your own, then your local auto parts store will have a premix that you can buy.
Prevent a cold start by using a block, dipstick or other form of engine oil heater. This improves crankability in colder weather, eliminates cold-start wear and provides for immediate lubrication because your oil is already warmed up.
In very cold weather, diesels form crystals that cause the fuel to gel. Heet has a product on the market, Diesel Fuel Anti-Gel, that alleviates this issue. It improves cold weather starting, disperses water and reduces smoking and prevents fuel waxing and fuel gelling up to 30 degrees below zero. If you are already having issues with gelled fuel, then you should have Diesel 9-1-1 on hand. It de-ices frozen fuel filters, reliquefies gelled fuel and removes water from the fuel system.
For larger rigs with air brakes, you may consider using Diesel Air Brake Anti-Freeze. It protects your brake system during the winter, eliminates moisture accumulation and prevents air brake systems from icing up.
Your local auto parts store will have a variety of cold weather products to help you and your diesel vehicle make it through the winter weather.
O’Reilly Auto Parts Website
Tire Rack, Winter Tire Faqs
Power Service, Diesel 9-1-1 Information
Wolverine Heaters, Engine Oil Heaters Eliminate Cold Starts
Dodge Ram.Org, Cold Weather Diesel Operation