Winter is Coming—Are Your Trucks Ready?

Halloween is almost here, and winter is just around the corner! At Purkeys, we’re already busting out our winter gear and getting ready for the cold weather—but people aren’t the only ones who need to prepare for cold weather. Heavy-duty trucks also need some winter preparation, especially when it comes to their batteries.

As cold weather hits, batteries that have functioned well in warm weather may have difficulty cranking the engine. Heat is hard on batteries and the damage is revealed as it turns cold and chemistry slows and engines need more power to crank.

To keep your batteries in tip-top shape, there are four potential battery-related issues that need to be checked for (and added to your preventative maintenance checklist) every fall:

  • weak batteries
  • defective starters/alternators
  • excessive voltage drop in the cranking system
  • excessive voltage drop in the charging system

For your convenience, we have pulled together a list of tools that we recommend every shop have. Tools include battery testers, chargers, and more. Download tool list.

Weak Batteries

All batteries should be disconnected from the vehicle (and neighboring batteries), charged, and individually tested. It is important that each battery be tested individually, so that the results are accurate. Each battery should be tested for both cranking ability and capacity.

Once the batteries have been tested, follow proper battery room procedure to replace batteries as needed.

Defective Starters or Alternators

Test the output amperage and voltage of both the alternator and starter to ensure they are functioning properly.

Excessive Voltage Drop in the Cranking or Charging Systems

According to the Technology Maintenance Council (TMC) RP-129, the following 1-2-3 approach should be utilized in testing cranking and charging systems:

Cranking system

  1. Disconnect all batteries and test individually with a quality tester
  2. Conduct a voltage drop test on main cranking cables
  3. Conduct a voltage drop test on the control circuit

Charging system

  1. Disconnect all batteries and test individually with a quality tester
  2. Conduct a voltage drop test on charging cables
  3. Test the alternator
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