Ready for the predicted hard winter?

There’s a very bad winter predicted for this year and that means colder temperatures, snow and ice.

Every part of the truck should be prepared for winter, from the battery to the cooling system and the paint.

Start with the radiator. Antifreeze and water are normally mixed at a 50/50 ratio. That usually brings your protection level to -20 C.

If temperatures in your area dip below that, drain a small amount of mix from the radiator and replace it with straight antifreeze. Too much antifreeze can cause cooling problems in hot weather, so don’t get carried away, or plan to change it when spring arrives. Check the owner’s manual for the appropriate type of antifreeze for your truck.

The battery’s water level should cover the lead plates. If levels are low, add distilled water. Adding water will dilute the electrolyte solution within the battery, so be sure to recharge it afterward. Make sure battery cables and terminals are clean and tight. Remember that no matter what you do, a battery can fail without warning.

Next thing to worry about is the tires. They should have good tread. Some SUVs have passenger car tires instead of truck tires, so switch to snow tires if you must regularly travel through snow or if the snow you do get falls on steep roads.

Depending on your weather and road conditions, you may need to either use studded snow tires or tire chains. Many provinces have laws prohibiting their use or limiting use to certain months of the year, because using chains or studded tires on dry roads can cause damage to the roads, not to mention vehicle damage from broken chains.

Chains and studs greatly increase stopping distance on hard roads and so must be used with care.

The windshield washers need more attention in the winter. Use a washer solution that won’t freeze in your winter temperatures. Top off the reservoir regularly, since you’ll use your windshield washers more often when travelling on slushy streets.

Windshield-wiper blades should be replaced if they are more than six months old. If there’s frost, frozen rain or snow on your windshield, make sure wipers are free to move before turning them on. Otherwise, you may end up with torn blades, a blown wiper fuse or a damaged wiper motor.

Check your engine oil. The owner’s manual will tell you the recommended oil that’s appropriate for winter temperatures. Don’t fall behind on oil changes.

If your truck has four-wheel drive, check the operation of all components. Make sure items such as locking hubs, the transfer lever and push button for engagement all move freely and actually engage and disengage. The middle of a snowstorm is not the time to find out that your four-wheel drive doesn’t work. Everyone who drives the truck should know how to operate its four-wheel-drive system.

Cold, ice, snow and salt can be hard on your pickup’s paint finish. Start winter with a good coat of wax. Wash the truck as often as possible during the winter. Be sure to clean inside the wheel wells and under the truck.

Remember to drive safely, leaving lots of room between yourself and the vehicle in front of you.

Ian Harwood is the Corporate Sales and Operations Manager of Custom Truck Parts in Western Canada.

Photograph by: Ian Harwood, For the Province