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Is Your Truck Ready For Summer?

As summer approaches, your truck requires careful consideration. The changing of the seasons signals change in weather and wearing on your truck. Today we’ll take a look at a crucial part of truck maintenance that you should be considering as summer approaches.

Do you know how to properly prepare your engine’s cooling system for the harsh summer heat, no matter what part of the country you’re in? Are you a fleet manager running a huge operation? Perhaps you use extra coolant concentrate during the harsh winter months? Let’s take a closer look at how all these relate.

Measuring Your System

Truck fleets crisscrossing the nation this summer, whether in California or Florida, are well aware that one of the few constants among the miles will be the blistering summer heat and high levels of humidity.  How will additional antifreeze concentrates over the winter affect your cooling system when the temperature rises?

Heat exchange properties of certain coolants can be compromised through the addition of extra concentrate during the winter. Depending on the amount and duration, this could also lead to engine component troubles come summertime.

If there’s a disproportionate amount of antifreeze or coolant compared to water, the heat exchange between the engine and coolant system will be poor, which adds stress to individual components. Long term stress could lead to premature system failures.

When one part of the system is compromised, others may soon follow. A problem with the coolant system stresses out other functional fluid systems under the hood, including engine oil, transmission and power steering fluids.

Several critical components are at risk for premature damage from improper coolant to water rations. Expect potential problems with the radiator, wet sleeve, EGR coolers, heater cores, hoses, gaskets, and sensors, just to name a few. The modern truck is so complicated, a failure in one component could lead to a failure in many more.

When measuring out coolant levels, there are dangers on both sides of equilibrium. Too much coolant carries risk, much like too little.

If your coolant concentrate is at 70 percent or more, you may suffer one or more of the following problems:

  • Suboptimal heat transfer
  • Higher metal temperatures
  • Lower boiling point / higher freeze point
  • Additive condensation / precipitation
  • A leaking water pump
  • AF/C slush
  • Overheating

If your coolant concentrate is at 30 percent or less, you may suffer one or more of the following problems:

  • Lower boiling point / higher freeze point
  • Linear pitting for heavy diesels
  • Increased metal corrosion

Like Goldilocks in the house of the bears, too little is too cold and too much is too hot. Optimal summer coolant concentration levels to water should be at 50/50.

The best way to ensure you’re getting the most out of your engine is to properly measure and maintain the concentrate to water ratios. There are a number of ways you can measure, whether it be through a handheld refractometer, a hydrometer, or test strips.

Fleet Manager Challenges

Challenges remain for fleet managers running fast-paced operations. Some measurements only look to make sure boil and freeze point protection are both at the proper levels, but may not indicate what level inhibitor protection is at.

This is where test strips come in. They may be one of the best ways to test inhibitor levels in your truck’s cooling system.

It’s also important to be proactive, rather than reactive. Fleet managers should be preparing for the season before the season arrives. Proactively testing an engine’s cooling system staves off further problems down the road.

The fact of the matter is, as the lush warmth of the spring turns to the harsh heat of summer, challenging conditions follow. Maintain regularly scheduled maintenance on a heavy duty vehicle throughout its lifetime and it should last nearly as long.

Maintenance is key to proper engine operation and keeping the antifreeze/coolant to water ratios and inhibitor levels in proper balance is part of proper maintenance. Don’t let summer creep up on you and wind up damaging your valuable vehicle(s).

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