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December 3, 2014

Tips for driving a truck in the extreme cold

Winter may be drawing to a close, but there are still several weeks of snow and cold for much of the country.

Truck drivers can be some of the most affected when the roads are hit with ice and snow. Experience and training on how to handle a commercial truck in a variety of weather conditions can become an critical skill in these situations.

The extreme cold can also impact how a truck performs and there are specific ways to operate a truck when the temperature hits single or negative digits.

A recent article on TruckingInfo.com several tips for operating a commercial truck in extreme cold temperatures. Here are a few of those tips:

1) Be Aware that Diesel Fuel Will Freeze in Extremely Cold Temperatures
“The first step is for fleets to be aware of this issue,” Mel Kirk, vice president of maintenance operations Ryder Systems Inc., told TruckingInfo.com. “The next step is to make sure you have the right fuel in the vehicle. There is a winter weight diesel fuel mix that folks in Minneapolis and Canada switch to in the September-October-November time frame, because they know the risk of the temperatures dropping fairly significantly. That fuel gives them the best chance of keeping the vehicle on the road.”

2) Add Fuel Additives
Kirk also says fleets should also consider adding fuel additives to enrich their fuel when in cold climates, TruckingInfo.com reports. He also urges fleets to try to keep at least a half a tank of fuel in the vehicle when driving in winter conditions.

“When you are going south to north, you never know when you are going to have road closures,” Kirk said. “The significance of having half a tank of fuel when you are in a situation where you can’t move is because of the emissions control apparatus on the vehicles. You have to keep the vehicle running through these extreme temperatures because the vehicle has to hit a certain temperature threshold to go into its regeneration cycle.”

3) Have to Run the Truck on the Road
Kirk says that in normal weather conditions idling will allow a commercial truck to reach the temperature threshold necessary for regeneration to occur, “but when you have got temperatures that are constantly below zero it takes more energy to get that vehicle up to that sustained temperature. You can’t do it just by idling or warming the engine with a block heater. You have to run the vehicle on the road. You want to have fuel in the vehicle to make sure you are able to do that even if you are in an environment where you can only move a few yards at a time,” he explains.