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Spring Cleaning: Winter Follow Up for your Fleet

  • By Ryan Skidmore

Do After Winter

Winter is over, and your vehicles took a beating. Taking time to spruce-up the fleet is critical to operating safely not only through this spring, but for the years and seasons to come. The longevity of your vehicles depends on intermittent check-ups and maintenance. Clean and repair under the vehicle. Salted roads, debris washed onto the road by rain, flood waters, and kindred perils grace the winter months and incidentally assault the underside of your vehicles. Thoroughly check the underside and fix anything broken. Suspension and axles go without saying, but also replace any plastic shrouding damaged in the past season. Such coverings are designed to extend the life of parts on newer vehicles. Unlike components on vehicles from the 60s, 70s, and even some in the 80s designed to sustain years of use without shielding, newer components are engineered to maintain longevity by being protected from these harsh elements with shields, shrouding, and anticorrosive coatings on the undercarriage. Components are less expensive to manufacture, but maintain a long life span. Replace wiper blades and tires. Specifically designed for winter conditions, these items may not perform properly in warmer conditions. Also, they will be worn out after an entire winter season. Tires, specifically, are designed for winter road conditions and may even be unsafe to operate in spring conditions particularly because the weather is too warm. Wash, wax, and detail the entire vehicle. Keeping a clean vehicle is not simply vanity. Paint and interior plastic components age and fail prematurely when not cleaned periodically. While a professional-level cleaning is not necessary every time, it does a world-of-good a few times a year. Major build ups of dirt and nasty stuff occurs the most substantially in winter for most regions in North America, making just prior to spring the best time for a professional cleaning. Lastly, a GPS Tracking Device can provide data on exactly how hard the vehicle is working during the winter months. This information could be vital and it is only available by using a GPS Tracking Device in each vehicle.

 

Prepare the Fleet for Spring

Inspect the cooling system. The “Cooling” system also keeps the engine from freezing in winter making it more of a temperature control system. It worked hard in the cold winter months and will work hard in the warmer spring months. Inspecting and fixing it will ease the transition from cold to warm conditions. Check the HVAC system. The climate control system will also make the difficult transition from cold to warm conditions. Inspecting it will catch any problems that could arise as the weather starts to warm up.

Change to warm weather oil. Certain vehicles, particularly older ones, run “thinner” oil in the wintertime. Changing to “thicker” oil will provide the lubricative support to operate in warmer months. However, some newer vehicles are designed to operate with one type of oil in all conditions. Please check the owner’s manual and consult a mechanic before making any drastic changes to your practices. Check the battery. Batteries are known to take a hard beating during the winter months. Checking it should be a part of any automotive check-up.  The last thing you want to deal with is a dead battery in the middle of the road.

 

Once a year

Spring is a great time to perform duties that must be done once a year. Make sure that vehicle records are up to date. Check that the VIN, mileage, make, and model are accurate. Record what drivers have been operating the vehicle. Record dates of service and any major upcoming maintenance. Lastly, photograph the interior and exterior of the vehicle. Accurate records of a vehicles appearance come in handy in situations ranging from accidents to tracking how your fleet is aging. Additionally, accurate records can be augmented by a GPS Tracking Device. Miles, conditions, and usage will be accurately and automatically recorded.

Perform all other check-ups. Now is the time to fit in all the long-term maintenance check-ups. Example, checking and lubing u-joints on axels and differentials. Fleet Management is as much about maintenance follow through and abiding by best practices as it is using tech tools and crunching data. Such steps are not the most exciting aspects of a fleet, but are very necessary. Having a GPS Tracking Device in each vehicle will make these checkups easier and will provide you with more information to keep a healthy fleet.

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