tree-lined road covered in snow during the winter

Is your vacuum truck ready for winter? As you know, driving and working in the winter can cause harm to any machine. Cold temperatures make it hard for engines to start. Snow and ice will limit your traction, but then salting the roads can cause rust. It’s important that you prepare your equipment for this weather change, and that includes winterizing your vacuum truck to avoid potential issues.

We’re here to help! Keep reading for our guide on how to winterize your vac truck.

Winterize Your Vac Truck: The Water Tank

The water tanks on vac trucks need all-year maintenance, not only in winter. If you’re not using the water tank make sure you drain it completely. This will prevent water from freezing and expanding in the hoses and tank, which could cause damage or burst the hose.


While it might be the easiest option to leave the water in, this can cause issues. Here are some reasons to drain your tank after each use in cold temperatures:

  • Inlet filters and gaskets get damaged, letting debris and dirt into the tank. This then can clog the rodder pump, seals, or oil cooler.
  • Materials could get into the tank via air vents. Snow, rain, and wind carry contaminants that can harm your water system.
  • Using water from unfiltered sources can carry harmful bacteria and chemicals. This can present a health and safety issue.

If you drain the water in your tank and refill it with new, filtered water, you’ll extend its lifespan. Dirt and debris can cause severe wear and damage on any machinery.

Don’t Get Iced Over

Winterizing the tank also removes the chance of water freezing in the system. Drain water from all the valves and plugs, as the excess water can freeze up too.

When water freezes it expands, and this can put pressure on any components it’s trapped inside. In the worst case, this can cause components to break apart and burst, leading to costly repairs.

Make sure there is a flow of water when you open the system so you can see the ice isn’t clogging things up. Then leave all the plugs and valves open, letting the water drain out. If your pump system freezes, don’t try to use your truck.

Winterize Your Vac Truck: Checking Fluids

There are many types of fluids in your vac truck. Make sure you’ve checked them and they’re ready to ride through the winter.


In general, vehicles use a 50/50 mixture of water and antifreeze to get proper cooling. In winter though, you may need a higher amount of antifreeze. This maintains the engine and radiator, preventing them from freezing over.

The 50/50 ratio should hold up in temperatures as low as -25 F. But if temperatures drop lower, you’ll need a 70/30 ratio. This offers protection in temperatures as low as -75 F.

There are freeze plugs in your engine designed to burst if internal fluid freezes. This protects the engine, but if the cooling system freezes it’s a different story. You could face serious damage, resulting in needing a new engine block.


How viscous oil is relates to how fast or slow it flows through your vac truck. Higher viscosity means slower movement. Because colder temperatures can raise viscosity, you want to use winter oil.

In cold startup situations, this protects your machine and reduces wear and tear. This includes protecting components like the injection system, battery, and starter.

If the oil gets too thick it puts more strain on your engine. It’s harder for it to lubricate the parts it needs to. A higher viscosity can also raise the pressure within your system too.


It’s common for fuel to get overlooked when preparing vac trucks for winter. But this is especially important when it comes to how to winterize a diesel truck. Diesel contains paraffin that, like oil, can thicken as the temperature drops.

Now gel-like in consistency, the diesel can clog the fuel injectors making it hard for your truck to start. To avoid this, you want to use a high cetane diesel in the winter.

Use winter blends that use 2D and 1D fuel. You should also supplement this with additives like anti-gel and cold-weather substances. Before you do this though, check your manual and consult a professional.

Winterize Your Vac Truck: Components

Before the worst of winter sets in, take the time to give your truck components a look. Get any small issues sorted so they don’t turn into big ones once the snow and ice hit.


When it comes to how to winterize a truck, most likely yours runs on diesel. As seen above, when it gets cold the paraffin causes thickening.

If this clogs your filters and lines, your engine won’t start. Replace your dirty filters with clean ones and use a winter additive to protect them.


Look for any damage like wear, gashes, or cuts to avoid blowouts or air leaks. Also, check your tread depth, as this determines the grip they can provide on winter roads.

It’s worth switching to ice or snow tires if you’re living in extreme cold. The recommended depth on these tires is 6/32″ as this compresses the snow and releases it as the tire rolls over it.


You could see a reduction in battery capacity of 20% in freezing winters. The colder the battery, the slower the chemical reaction to start the engine.

Make sure you get your battery tested before the worst weather sets in. If it’s not up to standard get it replaced. You can also consider a battery heater to help keep it warmer.


Salted roads and breaking rarely lead to a good ending. Brakes suffer more from corrosion and rusting as salt and chemicals de-ice the roads.

These substances can wear away between the brake pads and shoe table, pushing them apart. This then locks up your brakes. Check your brakes work regularly and keep them clean.

Winterize Your Vac Truck the Right Way

Now you know the steps to take to winterize your vac truck.

Make sure you’re checking all your components regularly. It’s cheaper to fix a small issue than wait and have something larger crop up. Also, invest in a professional service, to give your vac truck the best chance to get through winter.

To keep up to date with the latest tips and tricks on maintaining your truck, check out our blog. We’ve got you covered for all your vac and utility truck needs.