Every now and then, your fleet vehicles will require maintenance checks and fixes for safety reasons as well as to prevent any costly issues developing, however, these checks are even more important over the winter months. As the temperature drops, so do a number of challenges that drivers are faced with at this time of year, especially those who spend up to 12 hours a day on the road. It is a fleet manager’s job to make sure their fleet runs smoothly and efficiently, whilst also ensuring the vehicles they drive are well maintained to prevent accidents, costly repairs and time off the road. Keep reading to find out how you can protect your vehicles from the harsh conditions during the winter months.
The best way to protect the exterior of your vehicles from snow, ice and corrosive salt used on roads is to conduct a thorough clean of the cab, body and undercarriage before the colder conditions set in and apply a coat of wax to further protect it. Once your vehicles do hit the roads, you should also perform regular routine cleans as salt and dirt can build up quickly on headlights and registration plates, reducing visibility and the ability for people to identify your vehicle, so keeping these clean is essential.
During winter, braking can be difficult due to the ice and snow on the roads. Regularly checking the pressure and tread depth of tyres can help to ensure drivers can brake more safely. The more tread depth tyres have, the more they can clear water from the road surface and the better grip they achieve. The legal tread depth limit is 1.6mm and a quick way to check is with a tyre tread depth gauge. Alternatively, you could invest in winter tyres that offer extra grip on snow and ice, preventing the risk of skidding.
Correct tyre pressure is also essential for safety, braking, grip and maximising the life of your tyres, so ensure your drivers check their tyre pressure regularly and top it up where necessary.
Antifreeze is a liquid that is added to the engine’s cooling system to lower the freezing point, preventing the water from freezing like they usually would under cold weather conditions, which would cause serious damage to the radiator and other components should that happen. This is why it is important for your drivers to ensure their vehicles’ antifreeze is topped up regularly, making sure it is of the correct concentration.
Oil levels should be checked throughout the year, not just winter, but we thought it was worth mentioning on this list as without the correct oil level, the engine could seize and cause a breakdown. Get your drivers to check their vehicles’ oil levels weekly and top up if needed.
How often oil changes are needed depends on how your fleet operates. For light duty vehicles, oil changes are typically required after every 3,000-5,000 miles for light-duty vehicles and 25,000 miles for heavy duty vehicles, however, when properly cared for, some diesel vehicles and trucks can go 50,000 before needing an oil change.
Cold and wet weather doesn’t do much good for a vehicle’s battery. Batteries make up 16% of the AA’s workload, so getting the batteries checked out by a specialist before winter hits could prevent breakdowns and other issues in the future.
For the great majority of the year, drivers can get into their vehicles and set off almost straight away, however, one morning they come to find their windscreen is frozen over or steamed up from the inside. In a rush to set off, drivers can end up making mistakes that cause more problems than there were to begin with. For example, some might attempt to melt the ice with boiling water. This is a big mistake as the sudden change in temperature can cause the screen to crack. Others attempt to use items such as debit cards to scrape the ice off, resulting in a scratched screen and a broken card.
Others are sometimes so impatient to set off that they don’t allow their windscreens enough time to de-mist and give it a wipe down from the inside instead. Whilst this speeds up the demisting, it can also leave smears on your windscreen and wing mirrors, making it difficult to see in the evening when the sun sits low.
To ensure your drivers aren’t making these mistakes, it may be worth giving them some guidance on how best to handle these situations. The best method of removing ice from your windscreen is to use a scraper and de-icer, unless the vehicles have remote heating technology, in which case they can heat their vehicle prior to getting in and setting off. The best method of demisting is leaving enough time for the heater or air-con to de-mist it before setting off.
As a good fleet manager, you want to keep your drivers comfortable, warm and happy, which is why it is important to check the heaters are working as the temperature gets colder. You should also supply a safety kit in each vehicle including water, road flares, a fire extinguisher, jump leads and reflective triangles.
Fleet Tracking Software
Routine repair and maintenance is an essential part of a transportation business all year round. Conducting this efficiently is vital to running a company cost-effectively and with the help of Fleetsmart’s fleet tracking devices, you can streamline your fleet and keep an eye on your vehicles at all times. Knowing the real time mileage of a vehicle can mean that services are taking place exactly when they need to be, and constantly knowing a driver’s schedule makes it easier for routine repairs to be arranged. With Fleetsmart vehicle tracking, you can see this information as well as other useful data such as :