Whether summer brings dry heat or humid rain to your region, July is prime time for vehicle maintenance. People assume that winter weather demands extra care. But summer has its own special considerations.
If you’re not on top of fleet maintenance, your drivers could be stranded in heat waves or downpours. Not only is extreme weather risky, but it can dampen morale—and productivity.
It pays to optimize your vehicles for summer. Here are nine fleet maintenance tips to start you off.
9 FLEET MAINTENANCE BEST PRACTICES FOR SUMMER: KEEP YOUR FLEET RUNNING SMOOTH
1. Change Air Filter
A clogged air filter can significantly lower fuel efficiency. That's because air can't reach the engine through a dirty filter. The engine compensates by working harder—and burning more gasoline.
Air filters face a constant onslaught of road debris, dirt, bugs, pollen, salt, and other contaminants. For smart preventative maintenance, change air filters every 10,000 - 20,000 kilometers.
2. Examine Tires
Did you remember to switch from winter tires to summer tires? That's step one for summer tire maintenance.
Next, keep track of tire pressure, which increases with rising temperatures—to the tune of one to two PSI (pounds per square inch) for every 10-degree increase in outside air temperature. In hot summer weather, tires are at risk for over-inflation, which can cause premature wear, poor traction and handling, and blowouts.
Therefore, frequently check tire pressure (and not when tires are warm from driving). While you're at it, check tire treads for wear. This video shows you how to use a toonie to do it:
3. Top Up Coolant and All Fluids
Like humans, vehicles need to cool off when temperatures soar. Coolant keeps your engine from overheating, lubricates your vehicle’s moving parts, and protects the engine’s metal pieces from corroding.
Summer heat takes a toll on cooling systems. Vehicles can easily overheat while sitting in traffic on a hot day, so it's wise to keep coolant topped off. In addition, check on oil and other fluids, including brake, power-steering, and windshield washer fluids.
4. Check Air Conditioning
In most parts of Canada, air conditioning is a necessity during summer. If you want to keep drivers comfortable and hardworking, it's imperative to keep vehicles’ air conditioning in top shape.
If a vehicle's AC is not blowing cool air, either try troubleshooting yourself or immediately take the vehicle to your mechanic. Don't let your drivers suffer in the sweltering heat.
5. Replace Windshield Wipers
Due to winter ice, snow, and salt, the rubber on your wipers can crack and tear. You might forget about them when it's sunny, only to be caught off guard in a summer storm.
Broken wipers are a real hazard. Replace wipers if they’re damaged so that drivers always have a crystal-clear view.
6. Inspect Brakes
Fleet vehicles typically undergo heavy use on the road. This puts a lot of wear and tear on brakes. Get them serviced twice a year—heading into winter and heading into summer.
This basic preventative action will help you to avoid brake failure, not to mention costly accidents. Good maintenance will also help brakes to last longer.
(Related post: What You Need to Know About Fleet Maintenance With Foss National)
7. Check Battery
An average car battery lasts for five to seven years, which is longer than most fleets keep vehicles. But it doesn’t hurt to check the battery before summer temperatures peak.
Heat is one of the biggest drains on battery life. If a battery dies, the driver will be stranded, as will your business.
To extend battery life, keep the top of the battery clean. Wipe off dirt and engine grease, which can build up and drain the battery’s power. Carefully remove any blue-coloured corrosion on battery terminals, which can reduce current flow.
8. Get a Sunshade
Don't underestimate the usefulness of a simple sunshade. These shields effectively lower a vehicle's inside temperature by up to 10 degrees Celsius. They protect interior surfaces and keep drivers from burning themselves on scalding steering wheels.
Getting sunshades for all vehicles is an inexpensive example of effective preventative maintenance.
9. Stock Vehicles for Emergencies
Even with perfect vehicle care, unexpected troubles can arise. Get your drivers ready for any emergency by stocking vehicles with these essentials:
- First-aid kit
- Tire gauge
- Foam tire sealant
- Jumper cables
- Non-perishable snacks
Follow these summer fleet maintenance tips to keep your fleet running smooth this season. Drivers will be happier, safer, and more comfortable. And your business productivity will keep going strong all season long.
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Article by Chris Isac