Winter Maintenance Tips for Fleet Vehicles
Harsh winter conditions and freezing-cold temperatures are hard on any type of vehicle, especially fleet vehicles that are on the road for 10 or even 12 hours a day. If you are a fleet manager, performing regular maintenance services will help you avoid majors repairs and expensive downtime during the winter months.
Before the winter season sets in, make sure you are preparing your fleet vehicles for the season with this helpful fleet maintenance tips:
Use Winterized Fuel
The two main complaints in harsh weather conditions are related to vehicles that don't want to start when the temperatures are below zero and a drop in fuel economy. Seasonally improved fuels like CENEX® WINTERMASTER® PREMIUM DIESEL FUEL, will operate in temperatures as low as -30° F and have a cold filter plugging point (CFPP) of –55° F. Having a special additive package will contribute in increasing the fuel economy and horsepower with up to 5 percent, therefore fleet vehicles can stay longer on the road with reduced fuel costs.
Drain the Water Separator and Replace Filters
When the temperatures are below zero, the water in the fuel system can cause a serious damage to fuel pumps and injectors. This is the reason behind the cold engine startup issues that some owners of fleet vehicles consider as “fuel gelling.” The water is turning to ice in fuel filtration systems and storage tanks, plugging filters during the first couple of cold days. You can avoid these issues by simply draining the water separator regularly and replacing the water-absorbing filters.
Perform Proactive MaintenanceHarsh winter conditions can cause a serious damage to wearable components. Performing a proactive fleet maintenance such as replacing worn brake pads, hoses, and belts can save you from costly repairs in the long run. Clean the connections and test the battery.
Check Your Fluids
Engine oils differ in composition, so bear in mind that using the wrong oil during the winter months can lead to quick engine wear. Heavier oils may be a bit vicious to create effective lubrication when the temperatures are low. For easier startup and cold cranking, switch to a full synthetic oil that has a lower cold temperature viscosity, such as CENEX® MAXTRON® ENVIRO-EDGE® FULL SYNTHETIC DIESEL ENGINE OIL, created to operate in both lower and higher temperatures. Have a look at your owner’s manual for manufacturer cold-weather viscosity recommendations. You should also check and top off power steering, coolant, brake and windshield washer fluids.
Clean and Inspect the Exterior
The best way to protect your vehicles’ exterior from snow, salt, and ice is with a deep cleaning and a coat of wax prior to the arrival of the winter. You should regularly wash the undercarriage, body, and cab to get rid of the corrosive deicers and salts in order to prevent body damage.
Think about Your Drivers
Your fleet drivers have to be comfortable, warm, and safe in the cab during the winter months. Check defrosted and heater operation, and equip every fleet vehicle with an emergency kit consisting of water, a solar blanket, a fire extinguisher, road flares, jumper cables, reflective triangles, etc.
Winter can be a tough challenge for both fleet managers and fleet drivers, but following a couple of simple yet helpful fleet maintenance tips will help you to keep your fleet vehicles running smoothly and safely during the winter months.