Tech Tip: Don't wait to prepare for winter

Tech Tip: Don’t wait to prepare for winter

In some parts of North America, it’s already time to break out the shovels and ice scrapers. While the first snowfall brings excitement for some, for the people at the wheel of North America’s trucks, it’s time to get ready for what’s to come. Keeping things safely rolling through the cold months means getting prepared before things get dicey. This tech tip, provided by Bendix, will help fleets and drivers be ready for what’s ahead.

Brake checks

“In winter road conditions, it’s even more crucial that your brakes perform at their best – and the time to get them ready is before they’re put to the test on snow and ice,” says Mark Holley, Bendix director of marketing and customer solutions, wheel-end. “Fortunately, the most effective preventive maintenance practices for your brakes are pretty straightforward: regular inspections and lubrication.”

Drivers should keep an eye out during their normal walk-arounds for things like corrosion or damage to air brake chamber housings, since moisture and harsh road chemicals can gain a particularly damaging foothold in the winter. In the garage, technicians will want to make sure chamber dust plugs are seated properly to prevent corrosive materials from getting inside and causing internal damage. A sealed chamber can provide extra protection, and the Bendix EnduraSure Pro sealed air chamber incorporates a dust plug with an integrated check valve. This allows air to escape from the air chamber but prevents moisture and other contaminants from entering the park side of the chamber.

On trucks with air disc brakes, technicians should inspect the boots for punctures or tears – any opening into the caliper can lead to corrosion – and check the integrity of the guide pins. Replace parts where necessary, and make sure the shear adapter cover is in place and fully seated. The pads should move freely in the carrier, so you should remove them and clean the carrier surface with a wire brush, if necessary. Also check to ensure that the brake moves freely on its guidance system.

Lubrication keeps moisture from building up and enabling corrosion, and its importance cannot be overstated. Getting ready for winter means making sure all your automatic slack adjusters, clevis pin connections, cam tubes, shafts, and bushings are all newly greased.

Clearing the air


“Your truck’s air system is significantly more vulnerable to trouble in the winter, especially if you’re driving through temperature changes and dealing with freeze-and-thaw cycles,” explains Jason Kolecki, Bendix director of marketing and customer solutions, air supply and drivetrain. “That means every system it’s connected to is also more susceptible to damage, from brakes to automated manual transmissions, advanced safety systems, and emissions controls.”

To start, Bendix recommends manually draining the air tanks when the weather starts getting cold, getting rid of any moisture that remains from the warmer months. Draining the tanks every three months is a good year-round practice for typical line haul trucks anyway, though vehicles that use a lot of air – vocational trucks, for instance – might require monthly or even weekly draining.

If your air dryer cartridge hasn’t been replaced lately, it’s an easy and obvious winter-prep step, especially if you’re beyond the recommended preventive maintenance interval or you see moisture when you drain the tanks. Excessive air consumption may also indicate that it’s time for a new cartridge. The dryer is a key defense component of your air system, particularly in winter, when moisture can condense and freeze, increasing the likelihood of valve and brake malfunctions.

Many truck manufacturers equip vehicles with oil-coalescing dryer cartridges like Bendix PuraGuard to protect against oil aerosols passing into the system – so if you pull one of these off your truck, make sure you replace it like-for-like. Oil aerosols passing through standard cartridges can cause malfunctions in the air system and shorten component life.

One other quick and simple area of preventive maintenance is replacing the purge valve. Corrosion and grit accumulation can happen quickly in winter, so it’s best to start with a new one, particularly if your existing purge valve is already showing signs of either. To help, if your truck is equipped with either the Bendix AD-HF or AD-HFi air dryer, a new major maintenance kit is now available online that includes not only the cartridge and purge valve but also the cartridge pressure protection valve, ensuring that your vehicle is ready for the winter climate ahead, Bendix says.

“The last big thing that comes up every year is to remind people about the hazards of using de-icing solutions on a frozen air system,” Kolecki says. “And we know that sometimes they’re unavoidable for getting trucks back on the road quickly and safely. But keep in mind that once they’re in the system, these chemicals can damage O-rings and valves, so you really should try to affect as small an area as you can and keep an eye on those parts later on in the garage.”

Supporting your advanced driver assistance technologies

“Cold weather, wind, snow, ice and sleet often make for rapidly changing and unpredictable road conditions, and there are several straightforward ways to keep driver-supporting systems like stability control and collision mitigation working at their best,” says TJ Thomas, Bendix director of marketing and customer solutions, controls. “In addition to making sure there are no active DTCs [diagnostic trouble codes], drivers can double-check their wheel-ends for adequate tire tread depth and unusual wear like cracking, along with making sure all bolts are tightened.

“Pre-trip inspections should include clearing obstructions like snow and ice from any external cameras and radars that are part of forward- or side-mounted collision mitigation technology or lane-departure warning systems.”

In the shop, technicians should ensure that tire pressure monitoring systems are operating properly: Running on the right inflation is important, and winter temperature swings can have an impact. Additionally, electrical connections can be checked to ensure they are secure and watertight – again, all in the name of safeguarding against infiltration by moisture, salt, and road chemicals.

When winter raises the safety stakes, the right maintenance and inspection practices can make all the difference. Be prepared and stay safe.

You May Also Like

Peterbilt Technician Institute Nashville inaugural classes begin

Upon completion of the advanced program, students will earn factory-trained technician credentials.


Peterbilt Technician Institute (PTI) announced the start of the inaugural service technician class at its Nashville campus. Students will complete 12 weeks of an accelerated service technician training program with the end goal of becoming certified Peterbilt Service technicians. 

A partnership between PTI and Lincoln Tech was established earlier this year to enhance and expand service technician training opportunities geographically. The PTI curriculum provides graduates of Lincoln Tech’s Auto, Diesel and Heavy Equipment Technology programs advanced training on systems ranging from fuel and electrical to HVAC, suspensions and brakes. Students are exposed to a three-part learning approach that includes hands-on training to build experience and working knowledge of Peterbilt trucks, Peterbilt said.

HDA Truck Pride adds Idaho’s Diesel Depot to its network

Diesel Depot has grown substantially over the years to 45 employees and a 25-bay shop.

Volvo Trucks names 11 new certified EV dealers

Volvo’s North American dealer support network for battery-electric trucks now includes 47 certified dealership locations.

Heartland Express receives SmartWay High Performer Award

The SmartWay High Performer Award recognizes companies who producesz more efficient transportation solutions.

Navistar recognizes top suppliers with 2023 Supplier Excellence Awards

The 2023 Supplier Excellence Awards have been designed to recognize suppliers in two major categories: performance and leadership.

Other Posts

Kenworth ADAS adds new features for T680

Adaptive Cruise Control Stop and Auto Go and Highway Departure Braking to Zero features are now available.

The right preventative maintenance to avoid frozen air lines in the winter

Simply put: you don’t want your truck’s air lines to freeze.

OTR Air Lines
HDA Truck Pride adds Rodriguez Distribution in New Jersey

Rodriguez Distribution offers a range of heavy-duty parts in three locations in the Newark marketplace.

ConMet establishes European headquarters

The new headquarters in Stuttgart aims to offer lightweight solutions for commercial vehicles.