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Winter is Coming: Preparing your Fleet

  • By Ryan Skidmore

Get Ready.

Really. Actually get ready for colder weather. It may be tempting to merely take the same steps as those for a private vehicle, but don’t. Small fleets stand to benefit the most from adequately preparing for winter’s chill. Largely, because a little focused preparation makes a huge difference when no preparations, of any kind, were made in previous years. Now shift it into high gear by creating a check list and following that check list every year. Your fleet will reap benefits of consistent best practices year and year out. This will allow you to keep your fleet healthy and avoid any major issues that could cost the company thousands of dollars.

What?

Tires: Make sure your tires have the proper amount of tread to make it through winter rains. However, all-weather tires may not be sufficient for snowy conditions. Investing in the proper tires and keeping them properly inflated can help save your business from costly repercussions.  Remember to carefully assess your environment to proceed with placing the appropriate tires on your fleet.  Having the right tires can significantly reduce the risks of any accidents.

Battery: Batteries are known to work harder when starting cold mechanical parts. A new battery is definitely up to the task, unlike an old battery, and may keep your drivers from getting stuck somewhere in cold weather. Make sure to test your current battery to see if it can actually work on the winter or if it is time to purchase a new one.  Last thing you want is for your company to lose business because you have a vehicle that won’t start.

Oil: Different oils of different blends are designed to work in specific conditions. Cold weather oils, most of which will have a lower viscosity (thinner), are designed to operate in cold conditions.

Coolant: There is a water like substance flowing through your engines. If that water like substance freezes your engine blocks, in each of those vehicles, may crack and that would be bad. This mystery substance is, partially, anti-freeze. Make sure all your vehicles have the proper mix of 50% water and 50% anti-freeze. In extreme cold weather this is very important, you want to avoid any damage to your engine which can lead to very expensive repairs.

Wipers: If your drivers can’t see out of their wind shields, maybe because of old and ill-functioning wipers, they may crash. Replace your old, worn out wipers with new ones that clean rain, snow, and other winter fun out of the way and drive safe. Remember safety is always number one.

What else?

Other preparations may not be mission critical, but they will make operating all through the winter a solid success. Make slippery surface, like tail gates and running boards that are hard plastic or metal and tend to collect water, not so slippery. By whatever means necessary, steps against slippery surfaces will prevent slipping based injuries or accidents. Everyone wins. If your driver should have an emergency in the cold weather, a cold weather emergency kit will help alleviate that emergency, being well prepared can save lives. All your vehicles should be equipped with an emergency kit, but to prepare for cold weather it should also include extra clothes, blankets, and wet weather gear, amongst other things. And this too… Lubing door and other locks will ensure that your drivers can easily get in and out their vehicles in cold weather, but will also ensure that those locks do not freeze. Lastly, make sure that the heaters and defrosters work properly. All these steps will keep your drivers happy and working all winter long.

Monitor Routes.

Throughout the winter make sure to use your fleet management solution to monitor the routes your drivers are taking.  This will help you assess if they are taking safe routes or if for the winter your drivers need to change routes slightly in order to be on safer roads.  Remember a fleet management solution will let you see exactly all the roads they are traveling at.  If you aren’t using a solution right now, then you should really implement one right away.  The benefits far outweigh the cost of the system.

This winter make sure you are well prepared and keep all of your vehicles healthy and your drivers safe.

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