How to Extend Battery Life and Winterize Diesel Fleet Vehicles

How to Extend Battery Life and Winterize Diesel Fleet Vehicles

We’ve all been there. It’s 6 a.m., cold and dark as you slip and slide your way to the truck. You grab your scraper from under the seat to de-ice the windows and turn the ignition.  

Except it doesn’t turn and all you hear is the dreaded click-click. The battery is dead.  

Curious why it always happens on the coldest day of the year when all you want to do is crank the heat and thaw out?  

Get your day off to a better start with our preventative maintenance tips for better battery performance and products from Penray.  

Why Do Batteries Die When It’s Cold?  

Impact of Temperature on Battery Performance 

Automotive giant Firestone says battery failure often occurs during freezing temperatures. “At 32°F, a car’s battery loses about 35% of its strength. At 0°F, it loses up to 60% of its strength, but your engine requires nearly twice that to start.” 

Here’s why: 

Chemical reactions occur when a connection is created between positive and negative terminals. This reaction produces an electric current. NASA says a battery essentially turns “chemical energy into electrical energy.”  

All year long, your battery is battling the elements. Cold temperatures increase your battery’s rate of discharge and result in reduced battery efficiency. But high temperatures also affect battery performance as it heads into the winter months.  

All summer long, your fleet batteries have been stressed to the max. The constant warm temperatures have slowly evaporated the critical water balance of the batteries’ electrolyte (acid) levels, increasing sulfation (a buildup of lead sulfate crystals). These sulfate materials crystallize on battery plates, damaging the batteries. 

Come winter, when temperatures plummet, the chemical reaction your batteries need to perform occurs more slowly and produce less of a current than they would at a higher temperature. Any damage it has incurred during the summer further impedes power production.  

Even with a fully charged battery, vehicle engines are hard to start in the winter. This is because oils, antifreeze, power steering and transmission fluids have a higher viscosity (thickness, so to speak) in winter requiring even more power to start. 

The damaged battery struggles to keep up. The demand is too much to start the equipment but it continues to draw on the current, shortening the battery life until it dies altogether.

It’s not just extreme temperatures that can lead to battery failure. Have you ever had a battery fail after a long break? This is because batteries continue to discharge even during periods of unuse, such as company holidays, vacations or when vehicles are off the road for maintenance.  

Related: Performance Tips For Winterizing Fleet Vehicles And Heavy Equipment (Checklist Included) 

Have questions on winterizing your fleet vehicles and heavy equipment?  

Give us a call at 314-638-6500 OPTION 4. 

Winter Battery Maintenance Tips for Truck Fleets 

It’s one thing when a personal vehicle battery goes dead. It’s another when you have a no-start on a fleet truck or heavy equipment. Work doesn’t stop and you need to rely on your fleet to get the job done. 

This is where preventative maintenance is critical to performance.  

Equip your fleets with the tools you need to troubleshoot, diagnose and treat battery issues and address electrical malfunctions. We recommend managing your fleet’s battery lifecycles by having these tools on hand: 

  • Heavy-duty jump starter 
  • Battery tester with a battery load capacity of 2,000 CCA (Pass/Fail and Predictive Measures)  

These tools enable you to quickly react and respond to battery failure and decrease the potential for downtime. Other ways to avoid a dead battery is to: 

  1. Purchase batteries designed for colder temperatures.  
  2. Fully charge your battery.  
  3. Keep batteries in good shape by checking electrolyte levels and clearing corrosion from terminals. 
  4. Store the vehicle or equipment in a garage or away from wind and moisture. 
  5. Use a battery blanket.  
  6. Replace the batteries as it nears the end of service life. 

Winterize Your Fleet Batteries with Tips and Products from Penray® 

Penray® recommends businesses schedule annual pre-winter system checks to prevent unnecessary cold weather problems such as failed starts. Start by checking the electrical systems:  

  • Have the battery checked for general condition by a qualified technician.  
  • Make sure batteries have adequate fluid.  
  • Clean and coat the battery posts with protective, anti-corrosion spray. Try Penray 7011 or 7012.  
  • Consider having emergency products for quick starts such as Penray Starting Fluid 5301 and 5315.  

Penray® has innovative chemical solutions designed for heavy-duty applications to help you winterize your trucks, cars, fleet vehicles and heavy equipment. We carry a full line of battery and power products from Penray including: 

  • Battery Cleaner 
  • Battery Terminal Protector 
  • Heavy Duty Battery Terminals 
  • Heavy Duty Jumper Cables 
  • Battery Cables 

We also carry:  

  • Fuel and Winter Chemical Products 
  • Cooling System Products 
  • Antifreeze Inhibitors 
  • Oil System Maintenance 
  • Lubricants, Penetrates & Coatings  
  • Brake Maintenance 
  • Electrical System Maintenance 
  • Detail Products 
  • Specialty Cleaners 

Talk to your Superior Industrial Supply sales representative to learn more. Call 314-638-6500 OPTION 4. 

7 Signs that Your Fleet Vehicle Battery is Failing 

Along with regularly scheduled preventative maintenance, you can learn to spot failing batteries before they become a problem. Pay attention when:  

  • Engine cranks slow 
  • White or blue corrosion appears on the battery case or positive post 
  • The battery is older than three years 
  • Headlights, dome lights or electronics are dim or fail 
  • You hear changes in the horn’s sound 
  • The battery case is damaged 
  • You smell rotten eggs or sulfur coming when the vehicle is running 

Superior Industrial Supply knows how important it is to have durable and reliable batteries for your most demanding applications. That’s why we partner with top-rated suppliers like Penray. Give us a call at 314-638-6500 OPTION 4 or 800-783-6501 and let us know how we can help you find the products, services and advice you need to do just that.