It’s never too early to start the trailer winterization process for your fleet. For those fleets in northern climates, winterizing your trailers is vital to your operation’s efficiency. Making trailer winterization a regular part of “business as usual” is a great way to protect your fleet long-term.
But when and where do you start? Here are some tips to help.
Tip #1: Drain your air tanks
One of the biggest problems trailers run into in the winter is moisture getting into the air system. If you don’t drain your air tanks, this moisture can collect over time. If it’s allowed to freeze overnight, it can cause serious problems. The best way to avoid this is to drain your air tanks daily. Consider automatic air tank drains as well. Be careful to drain all of your air tanks, not just the tractors—the trailer and dolly tanks also need to be drained.
Tip #2: Avoid the use of alcohol-based deicers
Valve manufacturers report that it causes damage to internal components, which may lead to air leaks and sluggish sticking valves. You may also ask yourself: Why are you using an evaporator to remove moisture? The best solution would be to take steps to keep moisture out of your air brake lines.
Tip #3: Use fuel additives
If you’re running refrigerated units in extremely cold environments, consider fuel additives to keep the fuel flowing when the temperature drops. Be sure to follow all recommendations of your unit manufacturer when selecting an appropriate fuel additive.
Tip #4: Wash your trailers
Road de-icing chemicals are extremely corrosive and can cause irreversible damage to your equipment if not promptly removed. Pay special attention to the undercarriage. For help, consult the Great Dane Maintenance Manual section on Appearance Maintenance and the TTMA Technical Bulletin 124 for suggestions and techniques.
Tip #5: Check tire pressure
This applies throughout the year, but regular tire pressure checks are also an important part of winterizing your trailers. Even if you have a TPMS or ATIS device equipped, manual checks are still paramount. Drastic temperature swings may lead to tire inflation conditions that cannot be corrected without manual intervention. Make sure the recommended tire pressure is being used at all times; running on overinflated tires can cause as many problems as underinflated tires.
Tip #6: Keep an eye on the electrical system
Moisture, whether from water or de–icing chemicals, is a big concern when it comes to electrical connections. Moisture intrusion can lead to rapid corrosion or shorts, interrupting the flow of electricity and potentially affecting lights or your ABS system. Beyond the obvious and significant safety concerns, this can also lead to costly tickets or sidelined equipment on the highway.
Tip #7: Be aware of ice, snow, and mud buildup on and under your equipment
The buildup of ice, snow, or mud can cause damage to brake lines and electrical cables, and can also obscure critical components like lights and license plates. Newer LED lamps don’t melt away snow buildup as the old incandescent lamps did.
Winter can be tough on a trailer’s electrical system. As you winterize your trailers, view Great Dane’s entire line of electrical equipment.