Tips to Keep Your Fleet in Top Shape This Winter

November 17, 2017

Fleet vehicles operate under tough conditions all year round. But there’s no question that winter brings a whole host of additional challenges that threaten to sideline your vehicles and cause delays or lost productivity. Preventive maintenance and timely inspections can help you avoid costly repairs and schedule interruptions, so take note of the following tips to keep your fleet in top shape this winter.

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  • Change to snow tires (if applicable for the vehicle) and be sure to inflate them to the manufacturer recommended levels for winter.
  • Inspect and clean the battery terminals, leads, and connections. Cold temperatures make it more difficult for batteries to start, so it would be a good idea to charge the battery before overnight temperatures begin to dip into freezing territory.
  • Check the spark plugs and clean or replace as needed.
  • If your vehicles run on diesel fuel, consider using a winter blend during the coldest months of the year. Winter blends often have a higher cetane rating, which helps make diesel engines easier to start.
  • Use an engine block heater overnight on all vehicles with diesel engines to further ease starting in the morning.
  • Check vital fluids, including engine oil and antifreeze, and change or top off if necessary.
  • Inspect the windshield wipers for wear and top off the washer fluid. Visibility is quickly compromised in snowstorms, so make sure these tools are in top condition for your drivers.
  • Check and maintain the brakes at regular intervals throughout the winter.
  • Inspect all belts and hoses for fraying or other obvious signs of wear.
  • Keep a winter emergency kit containing an emergency blanket, flashlight, foldable shovel, gloves, basic first aid items, and similar supplies in the cabin of all fleet vehicles.
  • Train long-haul drivers on how to recognize fatigue and drowsiness, and encourage them to pull off the road and take breaks whenever necessary. A short delay is always preferable to the many risks involved in driving while fatigued.
  • Prepare a daily pre-run inspection checklist for your drivers to consult prior to hitting the road. This will help catch minor problems before they turn into major ones—and may help prevent accidents as well.
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