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Winter Truck Driving: Tricks Of The Trade



Scroll through some of these winter driving tips submitted by other CDLLIFE readers.


General Winter Driving Tips:

Keith Snarky Eubank-Drain ALL your Air Tanks and have your Air Dryer Serviced BEFORE it gets to freezing temperatures. 

Jason Simon- Keep extra food, a shovel and cat liter. Extra warm clothing & extra blankets. 

Jacob Johnson- Never stop going uphill on ice, and use the rumble strips to help keep traction climbing hills or going down the other sides. 

Gabriel Chairez- Always park somewhere where there’s restrooms close by. No off ramps. Idle. Keep tanks more than half to avoid freezing fuel. Carry a crow bar and big hammer in case brakes freeze. And carry water and food for 2 days in case roads shut down. And slow down.

Jonathan Schmidt-Also when you’re stopped bump the idle up between 900 and 1000 rpms this keeps your engine at operating temp. Low idle will over cool the engine causing fuel filter freezing, this is mainly for sub-zero temps after the winter we had last year, figure it might help someone.

Jamie Dean -If you feel the truck getting away from you on a slippery road, DON’T apply the brakes. Release the fuel pedal AND the brake pedal. Maintain your lane as best you can without radical or sudden steering maneuvers. If you do this you should quickly regain control and traction. After that happens then slow down using quick short brake pumps til you feel like you have regained complete control of your vehicle. After that, SLOW DOWN.

Amy Thompson- Watch for tire spray on other vehicles at night when the temp drops under freezing. It’s a good way to determine if there is black ice

Mike Slack-  Shut off the cruise control and Jake brake.

Don Taylor- When parking in snow, roll the truck back and forth about 10 feet a few times to allow the tires to cool, and pack snow underneath. This way you have a bit of traction, and the hot tires won’t melt the snow under them, which will refreeze, and you’ll be spinning until spring.

Josh Jones- Keep a 3# hammer & one of those small $25 propane torches (like from Walmart or hardware stores) for thawing & breaking ice loose (w/ extra gas bottles). That an some diesel fuel/ oil will get emergency heat if necessary. Extra blankets, dry warm clothes, & a few days worth extra food & water. A small shovel never hurt either. An ammonia/water mix for additional washer fluid. 

Seth Romm-  Keep your 5th wheel well greased, if it gets too dry and cold it makes it harder to turn and can cause problems.

Tim Brock- Carry diapers for your fuel filters. 

Mike Hollenback-Roll your truck back and forth, occasionally, for ten to fifteen minutes, to cool the tires and prevent them from melting into the ice, when parking. If they melt in, you’ll be stuck. Carry a three pound hammer to release frozen brakes. Release the brakes on the affected unit, tractor or trailer, only, and rap the frozen drum, smartly, with the hammer to release them.

Matthew Doane-Careful not to hit the brakes on bridges and overpasses. Don’t put yourself in a situation to let the trailer push you over one of these. The end result could be your jack knifed on the other end.

Brian Jenkins –Maintain high RPM (low torque, high horsepower) on the climb of a hill. Do a lower RPM on the descend side. Don’t EVER allow your RPM to reach or exceed it’s limited RPM speed. If your trailer decides that it wants to try walk on its own – you’re gonna want the available RPM to be able to pull it out of its impending jack knife. If trailer is in process of jack-knife, let off the brake (if applied) then apply light acceleration to pull it out. Always, always maintain distance. The more time you have to react allows for less sudden responses. Sudden responses are the typical reason for winter type mishaps.

Rex Gates –It doesn’t hurt to carry a plastic jug of kitty litter and a bottle of Clorox to help getting out of docks, especially when dropping a trailer. Put the kitty litter in the tire tracks and the Clorox on the tires and SLOWLY creep out of dock.

Frozen Air Lines:

Robert Alexander- Carry rubbing alcohol with you, put about a 3rd of a cup in your air lines to keep them from freezing. Just unhook the red line from your trlr, pour it in, hook it up & release the brakes. It’ll run full course in minutes, however, Pat Heer WARNS drivers to only do this if you’re in a pinch.  “Rubbing alcohol WILL dry out the rubber in the brake system.” 

David Roberts Sr.- Make Sure you bleed your airlines regularly because your lines will freeze. If you have to chain up to drive on the interstate, it would be prudent to find a place to park and catch up on some sleep till the highway is plowed, you will make better time. Also if you have to chain up make sure you have lots of bungie cords, they keep the chains from slapping the fuel tanks and other parts of your truck. Also make sure you drain your water / fuel separator, they like to freeze up.

Frozen Trailer Brakes:  

Jerry Burgess- When your trailer brakes freeze-up, and you have to get under the trailer with a large hammer to beat on the brake drums, make sure the tractor brakes are locked. There has been a lot of drivers ran over by their own truck.

First Fleet recommends that if your trailer brakes are frozen, to lock in the power divider, release the brakes and gently back up.  “Do not forcefully try to move the unit or drag the tires,” First Fleet advises.

If you do have frozen brakes, you will have to break them loose. Most often it is the trailer brakes that freeze not the tractor. First try backing up – quite often they’ll break free on their own. ” Use a gentle rocking motion as you would if you were stuck. If the rocking motion does not work for you on the tractor then it is advised that you call for service and get help to assist you. On the tractor there would really be no safe way for you as a driver to release the brakes without assistance.”

Keeping your windshield free of ice and snow: 

Tom Fullerton Ok took me years but, this is the best I’ve found. Rain-x in the small yellow bottle. About 5 inches tall, this is the undiluted mix. Wash your windshield very well, then put about 5 coats of rainx on it. Allowing 20-30 seconds between coats to dry. Finish off with some soft paper towels slightly damp to take the haze off. After that you will probably never have to turn the wipers on. Just turn defroster on and the snow and ice just melts as it hits and flies off. I’ve run thru 600 miles of snow and ice and never turned the wipers on once.

Wayne McCormick-Turn your defrosters OFF. Just keep cab good and warm. Putting warm air directly onto the windshield causes the wipers to freeze. Old timer’s trick. Still works.

Randy Coddington I use Coke then Windex to clean the windows then I use RainX every 3-4 days in the winter. I use on windows, headlights and mirrors. 

John Smithers- there is a washer fluid called Heet for winter get that, and then clean your windows real good and treat them with Rain X and put a good coat on them.

Crissy Berry- Bundle up and turn the AC on. If the windshield is cold then dry snowflakes bounce off instead of melt. Also spend the extra $$ on winter blades. These work well with wet snow and ice. Make sure you are using -20 washer fluid.

Mike Young- A little trick I learned on a fridgid night climbing South Pass in Wyoming is wiping the windshield down with a small amount of antifreeze. It was -38 and blowing snow that night, the Wyoming state trooper said to try it if I dared get out of my truck. It left a little film but nothing froze up.

James Dingman – No heat on windshield.  Get the window washer fluid that’s -20°F that should work or get deicer. 

Dianna E Johnson- You have to use the 80% rubbing alcohol and I usually use 2 bottles and then the pink windshield washer fluid only.

Al Rust- RAIN X ON THE OUTSIDE rubbing alcohol mixed in ww fluid and a good set of wipers And keep the windshield hot as you can with defroster, 1/3 cup water. Spray on windshield. 

Sherry Vacek- 2/3 White vinegar mix 1/3 water,spray bottle or in washer container,will instantly nelt ice on glass.and keep wipers ice free.

John Fecteau- Spray bottle two cups vinegar one cup water. 

Don Taylor- Never use defrost. Use dashboard/floor heat, and turn down the sunvisor. The indirect heat will do a better job, with no wiper freeze, and the visor will help hold the heat on the windshield.

Jeff Blackmon- One cup liquid laundry detergent and one cup Pinesol or Fabuloso in a gallon jug of vinegar and fill the washer fluid reservoir the rest of the way with water. Wash n wipe your windshield and let it dry, somewhat. Then, just use your wipers.It leaves a clean, invisible film that nothing should stick to on the windshield and wiper blades. It won’t foam up, either.

Darryn Lawson- Try air line alcohol in your washer tank. Double the melting

Kevin Kuper- A defroster fan, mounted or visor clipped, blowing on the window, from top down. 

Adam Varona WD-40 wiped on the windshield. It doesn’t give you the cleanest view out the windshield, and is a pain to clean off later, but it works.

David Tavenner- FYI go to a JANATORAL supply place for cheap washer fluid and it last longer and go to dollar stores and use lots of rubbing alcohol.

Dominic Dubois- No heat to the window.  The hotter your window is, the more you melt the snowflakes.

Tony Pinkerman- Don’t run defroster.  Put it on floor.

Dan Rister- A little bit of antifreeze

Russell Medigovich- Put your visors down, and turn the heat on high defrost.  Also, if you buy a winter wiper blades, you can rub antifreeze on a rubber part not the blade and that’ll keep the snow from building up. 

Leroy Foreman- Spray some Pam cooking oil on the blades. It works really good.

Jim Nunnery-Winter blades and Prestone wiper fluid.

Adam Gutierrez-Use your sun visors to hold and recirculate the warm defroster air and play with your wiper.  Switch to make the blade stop halfway across the windshield. It’ll help melt the ice. And quick rest area breaks to break off the ice off the blades if you need to. Also, run the purple windshield washer fluid (the special winter blend to -30°).

A.j. Sanchez- Check out that new Windex, that is pink and the ONLY stuff I found, by mistake, that didn’t freeze at all unlike RainX orange or the blue water did. Everything else froze both in the bottle and window. But it’s almost $5.00 a gallon at Walmart but give it a try and see if you like it. I am rolling with it this year again.

Elmon Dyar- Use winter blades and RainX.

Mike Blatt- Use your air conditioner on windshield and keep the wipers on full blast.

Brad Donovan- Spend $200, and buy the heated blades.

Annie Maillet- Keep the windshield cold. The snow won’t stick to a cold windshield.


Keep those tips coming in.  We would love to hear form you.  Drop us a comment for send us a Facebook msg.



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