Spring Truck Maintenance: Proactive maintenance keeps you on the road
Mother Nature can be brutal, and this winter was a perfect example of her wrath. In the Detroit area we faced the snowiest winter since 1880-81. Between the snow and the extra cold air, there was no lack of salt on the roads this winter. The cold, ice and snow combined with the salt and potholes can wreak havoc on your truck and spring is the perfect time to make sure Jack Frost didn’t do any major damage.
The constant barrage of potholes can cause serious damage to your suspension. You may find broken components due to impact. Make sure to check your truck for premature wear and damage to all suspension components.
In addition to pothole damage, contamination from road salting can cause shock mounts to lose strength due to rust and corrosion. Keeping components greased at regular intervals can minimize the entry of road contaminants.
Suspension airbag failure is usually due to age or rot and moisture within the system. This moisture damages the airbags from the inside out. Check for cracks and leaks as well as punctures caused by road debris being thrown from potholes. The cold weather in conjunction with the corrosive nature of salt can cause the rubber of the airbags to dry out, especially at the base where the bag folds.
Extreme cold temperatures can cause gasket deterioration resulting in leaks. The coolant hoses are most likely to leak at the connections due to repeated thermal shock from the engine.
In addition to checking for leaks, spring is the perfect time for a coolant flush. Flushing the system helps remove rust and scale deposits as well as other contaminants which cause corrosion and buildup. The blockages can cause your truck to run hotter causing engine overheating as well as possible damage to other systems.
Front End Alignment and Tires
All the jostling around from the potholes is enough to knock your front end out of alignment. A misaligned front end can cause uneven wear of tires resulting in a shortened lifespan and poor traction.
In addition to checking your alignment you should check your tire condition and tread wear. Freezing temperatures cause air to contract. However, once the tire warms back up the air doesn’t expand to reach the previous pressure. For every 10 degree change in temperature tire inflation can change by 1-3 psi. Like a front end that’s out of alignment, low tire pressure can cause uneven and excessive wear. Not only does the change in temperature cause the air to contract, but it can also stiffen the tire. In normal circumstances the tire rubber can handle this change; it’s the steel bands/belts inside the tire that are affected by extreme cold. The cold can cause the belts to crack or freeze resulting in a tire that is no longer round, in some instances the tire can separate.
Cold weather can compromise battery performance up to 60%. As engines work harder in the winter they demand more current from the battery to start. Since battery performance is already compromised due to the cold weather it can’t produce its normal amount of energy which then puts current demands on the starter motor. These demands can cause battery clamps to heat up. When the truck starts, if the battery clamps aren’t connected perfectly, the connection cools leaving a poor connection which can result in the battery not fully charging. A discharged battery can freeze resulting in internal damage.
While you’re at it you should check the following items:
- Belts and hoses- Make sure they aren’t brittle and aren’t showing signs of blistering, wear or cracks.
- Fluid levels
- Engine air filter
- Windshield wipers
Being proactive instead of reactive about preventative maintenance not only keeps your truck running in optimum condition, but it can also save you money…money that can be used to go on a warm vacation next winter instead of bearing the brunt of Mother Nature’s sub-zero temperature tantrum and snow.