The average auto battery lasts 3-5 years depending on usage and your driving habits. If you know how to check the battery and replace spark plugs, do it before deep winter sets in. Check your cables for any loose fittings. You can do this with the engine off, and observe whether the cables slip free from the nodes. Don’t yank on them, but use more of a gentle firm tug. You can tighten the nuts easily as needed while you are at it to prevent loss of battery power when you need it the most. If you aren’t familiar or comfortable in these procedures, you will thank yourself for taking your truck to a mechanic when you have some time, rather than in an emergency situation when it’s below freezing weather.
Our hands and feet get dried dead skin with winter air, so check for signs of corrosion which is like white powder around the battery nodes or clamps. If getting a new battery isn’t practical right when you see this, you can clean these parts with a toothbrush using baking soda and water that you make a paste out of for this task. Simply loosen those cables, clean the nodes and clamps with the paste that you made, and then dry them and retighten everything back the way it was.
It’s pretty important to check your oil. If you are due for a change, try refilling it with 5W twenty or thirty instead for the winter months. Lower viscosity oil has less fluid in it which is better for cold temperatures. Visibility is crucial if you are driving in a winter storm. If you current blades are so-so at clearing the snowfall, they won’t be adequate for freezing rain or sleet. Blades designed for winter do a better job for removing moisture before it freezes. You may pay a couple of bucks more, but you will find it worthwhile.
Did you know that a temperature change of just 10 degrees can cause a 10 percent reduction resulting in constriction of air. Air pressure can virtually chance from day to night depending on temperatures. Double check the optimal tire pressure for your specific truck on the label inside your driver’s door frame or in your owner’s manual. Never rely on the PSI on your actual tire. That number is the maximum air your tire can hold, not for the specific load of your truck.
Mechanics differ on some subjects such as adding a can of fuel line antifreeze to the gas tank to prevent water accumulation from the fuel lines. I recommend this preventative measure especially for trucks that are not garaged. Key word here is preventative, which would make it most likely a benefit if it is done BEFORE freezing temps. Keep your headlights clear and clean. Toothpaste can be brushed on gently to clean them. I’ve tried it and it works great. Other useful tips include always keeping your gas tank half full in winter weather. It can help prevent a fuel line freeze also, and if you hit a storm and got stranded, you would benefit from being able to keep the truck on with heat for a longer period. Good preventatives for preventing lock freezes include keeping the door gaskets lubricated with silicone. I’ve had some mechanics recommend a product called Tri-Flow, but I have not personally tested this one. Some truck owners swear by WD-40 sprayed into the locks, but it can gum up your tumblers. Safest bet is to buy a deicer and keep it handy throughout the winter months.
Extreme cold will turn your truck fluids into molasses slowing the internal workings of the moving parts. You can minimize those effects by letting your truck warm up slowly and avoid turning your steering wheel until the power steering fluids have warmed to avoid hose leakage. Put fresh grease into all the fittings of your pickup. Are you aware if your truck has unit bearings? They need to be inspected to make sure they have give and no squeaks. If you are not sure if your truck has unit bearings, all 4 x 4 GM trucks with independent front suspension, all Ford Super Duty trucks and all Dodges 1994 and newer have unit bearings. And finally, check your U joints and tie rods to make sure they have some give and take. Knowledge is power, so now you and your truck have it.