Month: November 2020

Driving During the Holidays


Holidays always mean more vehicles and traffic out on the roadways, which makes it harder for those driving big rigs. The increase in traffic is mainly made up of passenger cars, delivery fleets, and vehicles transporting people, such as buses. Along with the holiday season traffic comes winter weather conditions and less daylight hours, which make driving even more stressful. The volume of vehicles on the roads is at its highest from the Wednesday before Thanksgiving through January 1. Keeping all of this is mind, here are some tips for driving during the holiday seasons.

  • Be extra patient in winter conditions. If the weather conditions are severe, you should not continue driving. Making sure you get to your stop on time is not worth the risk of rollovers, jackknifes, and collisions. Driving at a slower speed is often unavoidable during these months.
  • Allow safe space. Make sure you increase your following distance. Having more than enough space to stop and maneuver is necessary when unexpected traffic situations arise.
  • Keep a tight grip on the wheel. It may sound easy, but keeping a tight grip on the wheel is important in order to maintain control. Make sure you always keep both hands on the wheel while driving through snow and ice.
  • Maintain a close eye on your fuel tank. There are several benefits to keeping your fuel tank full. One, it adds more weight allowing for better traction. Two, a full tank will reduce condensation in your tanks. A third benefit of a little extra fuel is that it provides an extra margin of safety in the event you become stranded
  • Decrease lane changes. Going back and forth between lanes is dangerous. As a driver, you know there are multiple blind spots on a truck. You need to signal early to allow other drivers to know where you are planning to go. Change lanes slowly to reduce any risk of sideswipe accidents due to blind spots.
  • Use caution on bridges. Remember bridges freeze faster than roads. Slow down, be patient while crossing, and watch out for black ice.
  • Don’t use your jake brake when roads are icy. Since your jake brake only provides braking to your tractor it should not be used when roads are slick.  Using foot pedal braking will apply braking to the tractor and trailer
  • Maintain headlights. Making sure your headlights are working and in good condition not only makes it safer to drive at night, but it also allows you to see the shiny eyes of animals before it’s too late. Clean the headlights often to prevent the buildup of snow and dirt, which can obstruct your view.
  • Watch out for work zones. Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean road construction has come to a halt. When approaching a work zone, slow down so workers remain safe and you dodge a hefty fine. If you are caught speeding in a work zone, you could lose your CDL.

Whether you are a seasoned driver who has been in this business for years, or a brand new driver experiencing driving over the road during the winter months for the first time, it is important to stay cautious. There is more traffic, bad weather, and less daylight which can all make driving a little more challenging this time of year. Following these guidelines will help you and others to remain safe and enjoy the holiday season with loved ones.

Winterizing Your Rig


Winterizing Your Rig

With cooler temperatures and winter weather upon us, it is important to take action to ensure your truck is ready for winter weather conditions, keeping your costs down, and staying safe. The following guidelines will help you do just that. It is extremely important to take action now to make sure your truck is ready for winter weather conditions, keeping your costs down, and staying safe. The following guidelines will help you do just that.

Prepare an Emergency Kit

There is a higher chance of getting stranded during the winter months. Be sure and have the right kind of survival supplies in your truck. These items include:

  • Extra blankets
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Bottled water
  • Canned food
  • Gloves, scarves, and hats
  • Snow boots
  • Snow shovel
  • Flares
  • Radio
  • Extra coolant, washer fluid, and engine oil
  • Extra fuel filter and fuel filter wrench
  • Tire chains

Check the Batteries

It is important to keep in mind that freezing temperatures drain battery life fast. If any of your batteries are near the end of their life cycle, you should consider replacing them. If it is not, make sure they are firmly mounted and all of the connections are tight and clean. Performing a load test on each battery will help you determine if you have one going bad.

Check the Fuel Filter and Water Separator

Because there is no way to easily check the contamination level of a fuel filter consider proactively changing your fuel filter as cold weather sets in.. Keep an eye on the water separator daily to decrease any chances of it becoming completely full of water and starving your engine of fuel. Water is a well-known pollutant in diesel fuel especially in the winter due to condensation in fuel tanks. If you notice a large amount of water has been collected, make sure you drain it. Since many separators are not self-cleaning, you will have to find the separator, which is normally near the fuel filter, and turn the drain valve in order to get rid of the water.

Use Fuel Additives

Paraffin, a wax, is found in diesel fuel and crystallizes when the temperature is below freezing. Crystallization of the wax causes the fuel to become slushy and gel-like. When this happens, the fuel is unable to pass through the fuel filter. When the fuel becomes gelled, your engine will be starved for fuel and  the engine will stall.  Adding an anti-gel fuel additive or fueling with winterized fuel can prevent this from happening. Make sure you check your owner’s manual for exact additive guidelines and follow mixing directions precisely. If you don’t, you risk damaging your fuel system.

Inspect the Cooling System

Do a complete inspection of the entire cooling system including the radiator, checking the hoses for any bulges, and inspecting hose clamps to make sure they are secure and not damaged. It is also a good idea to have your coolant tested to make sure it is at an ideal freeze point. Make sure you use the right coolant for your truck

Keep the Engine Warm

Diesel fuel is less combustible at low temperatures making your truck harder to start.  If you live someplace cold or know you will be traveling to a place with cold temperatures, installing an electric block heater would be a good idea. This will keep the engine warm while it is shut off. Be sure the block heater is plugged into a receptacle capable of handling the load.

Check the Air Dryer

The air dryer collects and removes water before it enters the brake system, which stops it from freezing in the brake lines. Inspecting the air dryer will help you determine whether or not it is functioning correctly. It is important to replace the filter if  necessary and to drain the air reservoirs every so often. If you do not maintain the air dryer, you’re taking the chance of causing your brakes to malfunction.

Prepare the Windshield

Snow and ice on the windshield makes it hard to drive and can be dangerous. Check to make sure your windshield wipers are in good working condition, and if not, replace them. Also make sure your windshield wiper fluid is full and you are using a cold temperature blend.

Check Your Tires

In order for you to navigate safely through snow and ice, your tires need to be in good shape. Thoroughly check your tires to make sure they are fully inflated, if you are traveling through states that require tire chains, and be sure you have the right size and number of chains in your truck. Make sure you check the chains to see if they are worn, twisted, or damaged links, and if they are, replace them.

Know what you can and cannot do when it comes to maintenance. Although self-maintenance can be cost-effective, it can also become expensive and dangerous if you are not a professional mechanic. Allow a professional to help you with what you are unable to do yourself, so your truck can be winterized and you can feel safe this winter season.