Burntout Diesel Performance Blog

Texas Winter Diesel Truck Checklist

Written by the Burntout Team

As you probably know, cold can wreak havoc on all mechanical things. It has the same potentially devastating effects on machinery that it does on living creatures. 

For diesel engines, both new and older oil burners that use glow plugs, you must take steps to winterize your diesel truck to ensure your rig remains reliable and efficient until warmer weather rolls back in. 

While Texas isn’t best known for severe cold, it gets cold enough that taking the proper winterization steps is a must. Keep reading to find out what these are. 

1. Invest in Battery Maintenance 

Cold starts are an archenemy of diesel engines. If you have an unreliable battery, it may cause a no-start, which leaves you stranded. 

While the terminals on your diesel’s battery are connected, chemical reactions occur that generate electrons for supplying power. Reducing the temperature of your battery slows down this chemical reaction, resulting in reduced current output. This is why most battery failures occur when the temperature begins to drop. 

Most people replace their batteries in the late fall or early spring. If freezing temperatures occur, your battery capacity may be reduced by as much as 20%. 

Along with reduced battery power, the oil in your engine will get thicker as it gets colder. This means there will be more resistance to cranking, which increases the load on your battery. 

Today, diesel batteries are sealed units, which means they are not serviceable. If your battery is not charging, you will be on the way to buying a new one. 

2. Check and Replace Your Hoses, Boots, and Belts 

Most of the hoses, boots, and belts in your truck’s engine bay are made of rubber. Do you know what happens to rubber in cold weather? It gets brittle, eventually breaking and leaving you stranded on the side of the road. 

You can prevent this situation by checking the belts for any torn strands or cracking near the edges. If you notice these issues, replace the belts right away. 

While that takes care of the belts, the rubber hoses, lines, and boots in your engine bay also require attention. You should inspect each of these for signs of cracking, leaking, and to see if they are no longer flexible. These signs indicate it’s time to replace the component or the clamp/fastener. 

Be sure to squeeze these each time you inspect them. Each one should feel slightly spongy and return to the proper shape right away. If you aren’t sure, it’s best to go ahead and replace it. 

3. Treat the Fuel

When getting your diesel ready for the winter, a common element that is overlooked is fuel. You need to ensure the fuel is winterized, especially if you plan to drive it all winter long. 

All diesel fuels contain some paraffin wax, which serves as a lubricity agent. Like other wax, as the fuel’s temperature drops, the wax begins to solidify. This may come out of suspension and cause the fuel to gel, which clogs the fuel filter. 

If you want to prevent gelling, use a CFI (cold-flow improver) that includes wax anti-settling agents and deicers. These extend the operability of your diesel’s fuel. However, don’t overtreat it. Other treatments of CFI will probably inhibit fuel performance. 

An alternative is to use a diesel fuel that is specially formulated for lower temperatures. 

4. Check the Oil

The viscosity/thickness of the oil is a primary thing you should keep in mind when cold weather moves in your area. Most engines use 15W-40, which can thicken as temperatures fall, increasing viscosity and insufficient lubrication of internal engine components. 

In colder weather, “thin” is what you need when it comes to oil. Changing over to 5W-40 offers increased flow and protection. It also thickens enough that the oil pressure goes up. 

If you ever operate your diesel in subzero temperatures, choosing an ultra-thin 0W-40 is recommended. When you use a thinner oil, it helps take some of the stress off your vehicle’s fuel system, starter, and battery. 

5. Test and Change Your Coolant

This step is more important than you may think when it comes to winterizing your diesel. The coolant should remain liquid. If it freezes, serious damage can occur under the hood. 

Ensure your vehicle’s cooling system has the right mix of water and antifreeze to prevent this issue. 

Getting Your Diesel Ready for Winter 

If you want to ensure your diesel is ready for winter, use the tips and information found here. You can also work with a professional mechanic or technician to ensure your truck will be able to continue running efficiently through the cold weather months.