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Winter may seem like a long time away right now but Fall is here.This is the time to begin preparing your vehicles for colder temperatures to ensure that they’re ready for what winter has in store. Below is a checklist of items for which bus fleet operators need to be proactive to prepare for extreme conditions, whether you are running diesel or natural gas engines. These procedures, ranging from cooling system maintenance to fuel choice, to selecting the right engine oil, will help fleets keep their buses running safely and reliably in cooler ambient temperatures.

-Verify that all coolant lines and connections are leak-free.
-Use the proper coolant/antifreeze mixture (ethylene glycol concentration) for route conditions/temperatures.
-Use winterized diesel, or blend #1 and #2 fuels.
-Add a fuel warmer to the fuel system.
-Double-check Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) warming lines before temperatures drop.
-Modify the air intake in extreme cold (-25°F and below) to a position adjacent to the exhaust manifold.
-Check the cold-cranking capacity of the battery. Add a battery warmer in extreme cold conditions.
-For diesel-powered engines fleets should switch to 5W-30 engine oil for normal winter conditions.
-Use a dipstick oil heater to help maintain oil lubricity and improve the engine’s cold-starting capability.

There are many other items on the checklist from draining water/fuel separator to adjusting the “fast idle: to insulating exposed water, fuel or oil lines.

Cold-weather preparation/operation procedures for Cummins Westport natural gas engines are similar to those for diesel engines (block heater, coolant heater, battery warmer, radiator shutters or winter fronts, etc.). CNG filling stations should include a dryer to remove moisture from the natural gas.

Natural gas fuel systems include a pressure regulator that is kept from freezing with a supply of warm engine coolant. In cold weather, allow the engine to warm to operating temperature before operating under load. The correct engine coolant, lubricating oil, and fuels must be used for the cold-weather range in which the engine is being operated.

Check with your local mechanic to help with winterizing your school buses.

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