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The ABCs of winter trucking prep: Air systems

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Freezing temperatures; snow and ice in the air and on the ground; corrosive road treatments: Winter throws a lot at truck drivers and their vehicles. With an eye on keeping trucks in good operating condition in cold and nasty weather, this installment of the Bendix Tech Tips series provides reminders on taking proper care of air system components.

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A is for air

“A lot rides on a truck’s air system—from braking to automated manual transmissions to emissions controls—and, in particular, on a reliable supply of clean and dry compressed air,” said Richard Nagel, Bendix’s director of marketing and customer solutions—air supply & drivetrain. “When it’s cold, moisture in the air system can condense and freeze, which increases the odds of brake and valve malfunctions. That’s why it’s always advisable to manually drain the air tanks at the start of the cold weather season. And while draining every three months is generally sufficient, monthly or weekly drains may be necessary for vehicles like vocational trucks, which have a high air demand.”

The beginning of cold weather is also a good time to replace the air dryer cartridge—although if you haven’t yet, it’s not too late, especially if you’re unsure whether it’s overdue. Since oil aerosols can be particularly harmful to a truck’s air system, by damaging valves and seals, Bendix recommends an oil-coalescing cartridge that incorporates PuraGuard filtration, even if you’re replacing a standard cartridge. And if the vehicle is already using an oil-coalescing dryer cartridge, it’s important to stick with that type for system protection.

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Keep an eye on the dryer’s purge valve for grit accumulation or corrosive damage due to road-clearing chemicals. Putting in a new one is a quick and simple bit of preventive maintenance that can save bigger headaches in the future.

Finally, avoid using de-icing solutions on an air system, unless it’s an emergency. These chemicals can corrode O-rings and valve seals. If it’s absolutely necessary, limit the exposure to the smallest area possible, and conduct follow-up checks on the affected parts.

This article was contributed by Bendix.

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