We are now reaching the coldest part of the winter here in the US and many food truck owners in states with colder climates may be finding their food trucks are becoming harder to start because of this cold.
Even though you should have already winterized your mobile food trucks for those of you that haven’t there are some auto maintenance jobs and safety checks that are specific to chilled air and winter driving that are a good idea to check into before the season is over. To be sure you don’t end up a roadside popsicle, or even worse end up with budget on ice thanks to unexpected repairs, have a look under the hood to be sure things are ship shape. As with any change of season, you should go to your regular maintenance log to make sure you are up to date on the maintenance items that should be taken care of throughout the year.
In addition to the added perils of winter driving, the change in weather can bring peril to your truck’s systems. Freezing temps, salted roads and wintery precipitation can gang up on your truck if you don’t give it a proper maintenance session. These winter maintenance jobs should keep you out of trouble for the rest of the season:
Check your antifreeze. Your antifreeze is an essential part of your vehicle’s winter protection. Your truck contains a 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze. Make sure the level is full and the mixture is close to 50/50. Many auto service stations and repair centers will check this mixture free, or you can buy a tester for around $5.
Inspect your tires. The last line of defense between you and an oak tree are your tires. Winter is not the time to get cheap about your tires, so take the time to check the tread depth. The National Highway Transportation Safety Board says you need at least 2/32″ of depth to be safe. The old penny test is as reliable as anything to find out whether your treads are ready for winter action. Also, be sure to check your tire pressure. Believe it or not, they lose a little pressure when it gets cold, so pump ‘em up.
Replace your wipers. Wipers? What do your windshield wipers have to do with winter weather? Two things. First, anything falling from the sky is going to end up on your windshield, and unless you have a team of beavers riding on the hood of your truck the task of clearing it falls on your wipers. Second, in areas that see snowfall in the winter, you’re also driving through that soupy muck that’s left on the road once the highway department does their thing. This muck includes a lot of sand and salt, both of which end up on your windshield. It takes wipers that are in top shape to keep your windshield clean and safe.
Check your windshield washer fluid. You’ll be using lots of washer fluid as you try to keep your windshield sparkly. Tip: Don’t fill your washer fluid reservoir with anything except washer fluid, it won’t freeze.
Annual Maintenance Procedures. On top of the checks you need to perform to ensure safe winter driving, now’s a good time to do some annual maintenance. These aren’t necessarily specific to winter driving, but it’s a good point on the calendar to get around to doing this stuff.
- Clean your battery posts. Starting problems are a bummer any time of year. Regularly treating your battery to a cleaning can keep electrical gremlins at bay.
- Inspect your spark plug wires. Cracked up plug wires affect performance, gas mileage and general reliability. Be sure yours are in top shape.
- Inspect your brakes. Brakes are not a good area to cut corners. Be sure your brakes have enough meat left to get you through the season.
- Check Your Engine Oil. This should go without saying and should be done at least monthly.
Cold weather safety should be a concern for anybody living in a cold climate. These tips will give you the upper hand when winter tries to put a chill on your winter food truck schedule.