PROTECTING THE PROTECTOR
From the Snowy Mountains to the Simpson Desert, Australia can throw some pretty demanding climates at trucks out on our roads. And with weather patterns seeming more erratic than ever, drivers need to consider how to safeguard their vehicles from the might of Mother Nature.
Whether it’s wet and wild or hot and heavy, Australian weather is ruthless in the extremes it throws at our truck drivers and their vehicles.
But spare a thought for the rig itself, because while you’re safe and comfortable inside the cab, the truck’s battling its way from tropical downpour to arid dust cloud.
So how do we protect the protector?
Think of a truck like your body. Each part copes with temperature changes differently – some take the hot or cold better than others.
All batteries rely on chemical reactions to create power.
While heat speeds these reactions up, cool air slows them right down, resulting in a less powerful battery throughout winter.
Heat also speeds up battery degradation, so it’s important to check connections, terminals and loads before summer and winter.
Consider purchasing a battery heater for extreme cold and avoid excess use of air conditioning and cab lighting if the battery’s struggling.
Both hot and wintry weather drain engine power – either through overheating the engine or thickening the engine oil.
Hot, humid conditions push engines further into the red by producing vapour that can block the fuel lines.
Choose the viscosity of your engine oil carefully. It’s wise to use multi-grade or multi-viscosity oils in winter and a high-viscosity product in summer.
Prior to summer, begin regular checks of your radiator fluid and top up if necessary to ensure effective cooling.
Brakes and exhaust:
Especially under load, brakes can fade quickly in the heat, rendering them less effective, but in cooler temperatures they can stick, causing sudden, dangerous jolts.
Always drive to the conditions, test your brakes and check for abnormalities in addition to your regular servicing.
In cold weather, water vapour can gather in your exhaust system.
If it’s freezing and you’re only travelling a short distance, the vapour won’t burn off, which can lead to premature rusting.
The only procedure to remedy this is to drive under load because most diesel engines won’t reach optimum operating temperature unless driven.
Leaving your truck to idle and ‘warm up’ could take all day and is simply a waste of fuel.
Temperature can also affect your tyre pressure substantially, with cold air lowering pressure and compromising handling and fuel economy.
Heat, even from driving, raises pressure momentarily so it’s best to check tyre pressure after the truck’s been sitting for an hour or two.
Never use hot water to melt the ice on a frozen windscreen as it could crack the glass.
Alcohol sprays or applying a credit card and some elbow grease are better methods.
Wiper-blades are susceptible to being frozen solid in winter, and they can also disfigure under extreme heat in the summer, so include them in your regular checks.
A ROAD TO NOWHERE
Trucks cop Mother Nature’s wrath on the chin, but so do the roads they’re travelling on.
Heat causes asphalt and composite road surfaces to soften and expand, wearing potholes and ruts into the surface.
Flooding can destroy road foundations and structural underlays, leading to even worse surface damage.
Extreme weather, especially heavy rain, delays construction and maintenance work, hampering efforts to fix this damage.
The most dangerous road condition for truck drivers is black ice. It’s a thin layer of invisible sleet that freezes on the road (especially in shaded areas) and can send trucks spinning out of control. The only foolproof solution is to be aware of the conditions and drive carefully. If you do hit a patch of black ice, resist the urge to brake. Just stop accelerating and maintain your steering trajectory.
For further information, please contact:
Isuzu Australia Limited
Phone: 03 9644 6666
For Isuzu Truck releases and photos:
Phone: 03 9867 5611