The Weather Outside Is Frightful
Frightful in a different way, of course. With temperatures scorching in the 90’s across the country, it seems that everyone and everything around us is overheating and seeking shade – this includes your heavy-duty vehicle. The toasty early summer weather can cause negative impacts on trucks that will decrease performance; that is, if drivers don’t maintain certain parts this season.
Summer maintenance work on big rigs is just as important in the dry (miserably humid) summer months as in the wintertime. A good starting point would be fixing engine cooling systems this season with special emphasis on checking coolant levels and noticing the signs of failing radiators. Keep reading to learn what to look out for this season.
Avoiding Cooling System Problems.
Studies show that 40 percent of vehicle downtime is due to engine cooling system troubles; and if in a pinch, it takes roughly 30 minutes for an overheated engine to cool down to temperature before it’s safe to inspect it for cracks, leaks and other damage. This will further cause travel and shipment delays for drivers. Thankfully, these problems can not only be fixed, but they can be avoided with proper routine maintenance before long-haul trips.
Back in 2012, Sandy Darnell, president of Radiator Works, let Fleet Maintenance in on preventative tips that truckers should follow when it comes to fixing radiators and working on engine cooling systems. Here are some notes that she recommended then that still hold true today:
- Inspect the inside of the radiator for corrosion, and check to be sure the coolant is clean and pure, with no rust or other impurities. Coolant should be drained and flushed annually - at a minimum.
- Inspect the radiator cap for cracks and/or swelling and replace it every time the coolant is drained and flushed.
- Perform a cooling system pressure test. This, too, should be done, at a minimum, on an annual basis.
- Inspect the exterior of the radiator and the air conditioner cooling coils for excessive debris buildup or fin damage, and clean as necessary.
- Inspect all radiator and heater core hoses and lines for excessive mushiness and hardness, and check for cracks and leaks. Be sure all the connections are tight. Replace hoses every two years.
- Inspect belts for wear and tension and test the function of the tensioner arm. Replace the belts everyone to two years.
- Replace the thermostat every two years.
- Inspect the water pump for leaks and verify that the engine maintains a temperature within the manufacturer's specification.
- Run the truck heater to verify that the system functions properly.
Signs of a Bad Radiator
- Your vehicle is leaking coolant.
- Sludge build-up in the radiator.
- Temperature gauge is running hot.
The Colors of Coolant
There are different coolant colors; and the color indicates the type of coolant that should be maintained without deluding it with another color. All coolant, however, should be clear in color when used and should not be contaminated with particles that could lead to trouble down the road. Different types of coolant will require specialized maintenance care tips. Do your research to know how to best maintain coolant levels in your truck. Coolant levels should be checked every few months – say, at the start and end to a season.
It’s Getting Hot, Hot, Hot!
The harsh winter months may have been frightful; but summer heat is just as bad for truck downtime. Maintain truck radiators and other parts in engine cooling systems this summer to avoid costly hiccups on work trips. If you need replacement radiators, turn to Match Made, one of the most trusted brands in the trucking industry for quality OEM truck parts. Match Made radiators are made from plastic aluminum and are designed with drop-fit form and function for certain applications. And, did we mention they come with extended warranties?