How to Drive in Really Cold Temperatures

When driving in cooler temperatures such as -10 to -30 below zero there are a few extra things to keep in mind. Condensation is a big problem for the whole truck, warm and cold together forms water droplets which freeze and build up over time, causing restrictions and blockages, this is found most in 90 degree fittings.

Keep an eye on the engine breather if it ices up it will create enough pressure in the engine that it will blow the engine oil out the dipstick, valve cover or oil fill, or where ever it can release the pressure, you may loose your engine oil quickly, so keep the ice cleaned away from the engine breather.

The same goes for the transmission and differential breathers, if they become plugged they will blow a seal to relieve the pressure buildup, the case pressure is lower so the oil loss would be slower than the engine except for the forward differential, that one could pump out quite a bit of oil.

The air system can cause problems with the governor, the unloader line between the governor and the air dryer, the spitter on the air dryer. If your compressor is depositing small or large droplets of oil into the air system combined with the cooler temps and water droplets it can make all of the symptoms appear at the same time, then you almost have to get it inside, bypass the dryer and clean out the lines treat the tanks with air brake antifreeze or change out the compressor.

If air brake antifreeze is introduced at the compressor discharge hose under normal plumbing it will take out the desiccant in the dryer filter and it will no longer remove the moisture causing problems down the road. Put air brake antifreeze in the air tank itself or if the dryer spitter is causing problems, bypass the dryer and put the air brake antifreeze in the discharge hose.

The fuel system, gelling can occur if you have straight #2 fuel, some will run tank heaters and fuel conditioner and be ok, some run a blend and fuel conditioner, when it’s 10 – 30 below zero, don’t be afraid to run #1, #1 and fuel conditioner are your best bet to stay running down the road. It’s really important to use a fuel conditioner when fuelling to help with the condensation of the warm fuel and cool temps, even if your fuel doesn’t gel, the water droplets will collect in brass fittings and filters heads, causing restrictions that could lead to loss of power, engine cutting out, rough running engine, or dying motor, in fact it’s a good idea to treat your fuel year round for water.

If you have a fuel filter housing that’s exposed, cover it with a insulated filter cover or tractor cab insulation or something that will help retain some heat in the system. Use a partial winter front on your grille so that you can maintain a decent engine temp while driving. If possible wait the cool weather out and travel when it warms up, or travel with another truck in case you have trouble. Otherwise have insulated clothes with you, in case you freeze up, it doesn’t take long for the heat to escape the truck cab. (15 minutes)

So watch the breathers and fuel, and yourself!