Semi Truck Driver Tips and Resources – Winter Driving

Big Rig Semi-Trucks driving up a steep grade on an Arctic Winter Highway in Alaska

Winter Tips

  • Avoid braking or accelerating on bridges.
  • Bridges and ramps usually freeze first.
  • Use Rubbing alcohol to pour into air lines to help unfreeze air lines.
  • Starting fluid to help start truck if fuel is slightly jelled. (use very sparingly)
  • Slow down especially before curves, bridges, and ramps.
  • Increase following distance.

How to De-fog Inside Windshield Quickly:

  • Turn On Air Conditioning, Set knob to Defroster, and set blower on high.
  • After it is defrosted, keep running Air Conditioning to keep it from fogging up again. Adjust temperature & direction knobs for comfort.

How To Clean Mirrors In The Winter:

  • Sometimes there is enough moisture in the air to simply use a dry paper towel, but if not, try dipping the corner of the paper towel in water. The idea is to have just enough water to clean, but not so much that it transfers to the mirror and freezes.

Tip To Help Slide Trailer Tandem

Are you having trouble pulling the handle to release the trailer tandem pins?

Try this:

  1. Park on a flat surface. Set trailer brakes and release truck brakes. Put truck in low gear. Release clutch just enough to rock truck then. Engage clutch by pushing down clutch pedal. Take truck out of gear. After truck stops rocking set truck brakes. Try pulling pin handle. This works most of the time.
  2. If handle will not stay in up position when moving truck either use vise grips to hold it up or jam a very large screwdriver under handle to keep handle from moving.
  3. Sometimes rust will prevent tandems from sliding. Move forward slowly and pull on trailer brake bar or set trailer brake while moving. This will help to break the rust that is preventing the tandems from moving.
  4. Placing a bungy cord from the bottom of trailer to the handle then rocking the trailer can help in releasing the pins.

Fueling Tips

1. How do you prevent a fuel spill while fueling? Fuel one side at a time and stand there watching it. If you chose not to follow that rule, then be sure to take notice of the ground before beginning to fuel. If there is diesel on the ground or diesel residue left from a diesel clean-up, it is a good indicator that the pump nozzle does not automatically shut off.

2. How do you prevent driving away while the fuel nozzle is still in the tank? If you have a locking fuel cap, you put the ignition key and fuel key on the same key ring. If you forget to take the fuel nozzle out of the fuel tank you will not be able to start your truck and drive away. This will only prevent this kind of accident if you are fueling one side at a time.

3. How do you  prevent fuel from jelling in the winter? Use fuel additive when temperature may be dropping below 20 degrees. Use a mix of diesel #1 and diesel #2 when temperature may get below 10 degrees. As temperature drops use more diesel #1. Diesel #1 is less prone to freezing.

Pre-Trip Inspection Tip

Check everything on vehicle, but pay special attention to Wheel Oil levels & Wheel Grease leaks, Tire condition & Tire air pressure, Air lines touching each other, brake slack adjustments, window wiper fluid level & wiper blade condition, oil level, clean windows, fan belt, steering components, lights, Air & Electrical lines between truck and trailer, and mirror adjustment.

How do you prevent a roll-a-way truck while parked?

Place a small strip of duct tape around the brake knobs when brakes are set. It should be only visible while brakes are set. When you press the knobs in to release the brakes you should not be able to see the tape. After exiting the vehicle you can easily take a glance over to the knobs and see if you can see any of the duct tape. If you see any tape exposed then you either forgot to set the brakes or when you set the brakes you only ended up setting one and not the other.

How to prevent getting locked out of truck?

Always take your key with you and always lock your key from the outside when exiting vehicle. Also, hide a spare key somewhere on the truck.

Money Saving Tips:

  1. Save money when ordering at Wendy’s:  I have noticed that the same sandwich can cost you either $.99  or $1.59 depending on how you order it. If you order a Deluxe Cheeseburger off of the value menu and add bacon it cost $1.59. If you order the Bacon Deluxe Cheeseburger and add pickles it is $.99. It is the same sandwich either way but different prices.
  2. Aldi’s Grocery Stores Seem to have the lowest grocery prices.
  3. Love’s still gives free drink refills with fuel purchase.
  4. No need to buy rags. Use old T-shirts and regular shirts as they wear out. They make for good rags.
  5. Buy an inverter and refrigerator and stock up with groceries at the grocery stores. “The Ultimate Truck Parking Guide” will have an ample amount of grocery stores to enable the driver to stay stocked up with groceries.
  6. Pick a cell phone plan that best fits your needs without going over the minutes allotted to you.
  7. Find places that provide free showers, free drinks, free food, and free WiFi.

Truck Driver TipsTools and other things to take on the road:

  • Screw drivers (Phillip & Straight)
  • Hammer
  • Socket set
  • Crescent wrench
  • Crow Bar
  • Black Strong Bungy Cord (8)
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Tire Gage
  • Air Hose that connects to air lines
  • Kingpin Puller
  • Rags
  • Simple Green cleaner
  • Small miniature broom
  • Large broom
  • Trash can and trash bags
  • Toilet paper, Kleenex’s, paper towels
  • Bath towel
  • Spare fuses
  • Spare lights
  • Air Line Spacers
  • Windshield washer fluid
  • Anti-gel fuel additive
  • Cell Phone
  • Fuel filter
  • Flashlight and extra batteries (heavy duty)
  • Stamps and Envelopes
  • Rubbing alcohol (During winter for air lines)
  • Motor Oil
  • Water
  • Emergency cash ($100-$200)

How do I know if I am too tired or sleepy to drive?

Other drivers may have other signs of being sleepy, but here are mine.

I know I am sleepy when:

  • My arms are tired of holding the steering wheel.
  • I start blinking my eyes more than usual.
  • I am not enjoying the drive any more.
  • It takes so much concentration on the road that I slack off on looking at the mirrors as often.
  • Sometimes stopping to take a short break into the Truck Stop or getting a cup of coffee or good conversation or good radio station will take away the symptoms, but if the symptoms persist then I know I am sleepy and need to get off the road.
  • If your eyes close and you jerk your head up, then you basically did not recognize the warning signs that you were sleepy and you got lucky that you did not fall asleep at the wheel and you need to get of the road NOW.

Snow Chains Tips

  • Practice putting snow chains on before winter weather gets here. You may not be fortunate enough to find someone near to teach you when you need to use them for the first time.
  • Store chains separately to keep them from getting tangled with each other.

Procedure for installing Chains:

  1. Lay the chain on the ground making sure it is not tangled up with itself.
  2. Loosen all adjusting areas.
  3. Drape the chain over tire. (making sure adjusting part of chain is not between the 2 tires and that smooth part of chain is touching the tread.
  4. Pull forward just enough to drive over chain plus a little more.
  5. Connect chain ends together. (Inside will be a hook and should be connected on second or third link, idea is to have chain tight at the end of installation, For outside you will need to push “L” shaped piece of metal thru a chain link and then secure end of “L” shaped metal piece to the loose chain link provided for that purpose.)
  6. Tighten clamps with chain wrench. You should not be able to tighten all of them.
  7. Pull forward about 6 feet.
  8. Tighten last clamp.
  9. Use Black hard rubber bungy cords to secure excess chain after installing chain. (Do not use buggy cords to keep chain tight. Chain should be tight. Buggy cord is only for securing loose excess chain.)
  10. Recheck chains after a mile if possible to make sure they are still tight.
    (It is easier to demonstrate than to explain on paper. I may make a video at a later date to demonstrate)

Truck Parking During Bad Weather

I have found 2 places to check weather that have been very helpful:

1. www.weather.com, in box #2 click on:
a. Current weather
b. Short-term forecast (Under the map you can click on Morning, Midday, and Evening)

2. Dial 511 in many states to get road conditions. For example: Nevada and California

Fuel Mileage Tips

Many factors contribute to poor fuel mileage but there are 3 major factors that can be controlled by the driver to increase fuel mileage:

  1. Reduce idle time.- Only idle when necessary
  2. Reduce out of route miles – Using routing software helps a lot in this area.
  3. Reduce speed – Reducing your speed by 10% can increase your fuel mileage by 10%.

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