Winterizing Your New or Used Bus
Summer has passed us, autumn is in full swing, and the winter months are right around the corner. To keep your bus operating at optimum efficiency and power during the cold and snow that lay ahead, it’s time to start thinking about winterizing your bus. This is a pretty easy undertaking which entails just checking a handful of items to ensure cold weather problems won’t plague you this winter.
- Check coolant strength and condition
- Check battery
- Check windshield wipers
- Check tire condition
- Test heater
Checking your coolant’s/antifreeze’s strength and condition involves using a Coolant Tester. These are fairly inexpensive and easy to use. This is typically done by removing the pressure cap (not when the vehicle is running or when it is hot) and drawing out a little liquid with the tester. The tester will indicate if you need to add additional coolant. In most climates, a 50/50 solution is recommended for year-round use. If the weather turns extremely cold, you can add a little more antifreeze to the system. However, never exceed a 70/30 mixture of antifreeze to water as it can cause the engine to overheat more rapidly.
Fully charged automotive batteries should measure 12.6 volts or above. With the engine running, the measurement should be between 13.7 and 14.7 volts. If you don’t have a multimeter, you can test the vehicle’s electrical system by starting it and turning on the headlights. If the headlights are dim, that means the lights are being run off the battery with little to no charge produced by the alternator. If they get brighter when the engine revs, the alternator is producing some current but not enough to charge the battery. If the lights emit normal brightness and don’t change intensity with the engine revved, the charging system is okay.
If you live in a climate that gets rain and/or snow during the winter months, check your wipers to make sure they are in good condition with no cracks. There is nothing more unsafe when driving than when visibility is distorted due to bad wipers.
Make sure you have plenty of tread on your tires, there are no gouges or cracks in the rubber, and they are at least all-weather tires. Investing in snow tires, if you operate in an environment that sees a lot of snow, is highly advisable.
You probably haven’t used the heater in some time. Turn it on, blow any dust or debris that accumulated, and make sure it’s blowing warm/hot air. If you are not getting any heat, that may be indicative of another problem that should be checked out by a mechanic.
In addition to adhering to the regular maintenance schedule, these checks will help you keep your bus running strong and safe all winter long.