Regardless of where you’re located in the country, chances are the conditions of the road change throughout the year. Whether you’re located in a region that’s known for its icy climate or you are accustomed to more mild winters, there are means you can take to protect your fleet from both expected and unexpected weather conditions. One thing is for sure: it’s always better to be proactive when it comes to fleet winterizing.
Many have strong feelings when it comes to the return of chilly temperatures, especially fleet drivers out on the road, which is why ensuring their comfort and safety is paramount. The change in season can be an excellent push to review the condition of your commercial equipment before weather conditions sharply change.
If you want to make sure your fleet is set up for success, you’ll need to begin with a fleet winterizing plan. Your strategy must address the who, what, where, when, and why you’re doing fleet winterizing. Then you’ll need the right tools to make the entire process as straightforward as possible.
Four areas to focus on when getting your fleet ready for winter
Fleet winterizing is most successful if it’s a team effort, so that means fleet managers need to communicate properly with their crew to ensure everyone is aligned. When maintenance staff, office support, and drivers work together, the process becomes a lot smoother.
You’ll still need to direct everyone’s efforts, communicate expectations, monitor progress, and solve any problems, which can easily become overwhelming tasks. Fleet maintenance management software makes managing your team’s winterization efforts more organized, productive, and time-efficient.
With the assistance of software tools, you can make sure that nothing falls through the cracks and that every asset in your fleet is ready to surpass expectations come winter.
Fleet winterizing for safety and reliability
The last thing your drivers want is to find out their defrosters aren’t working after getting stuck in a snowstorm.
A safe and reliable vehicle isn’t just a concern for your fleet but for external parties as well. Aside from ensuring the safety of other road users, poorly maintained vehicles result in delayed maintenance and unhappy customers.
Your mechanics don’t want to be stuck charging batteries every morning when vehicle maintenance and repairs need to be done, and not all customers will understand when their deliveries are late. Customers don’t want to hear excuses about gelled fuel or frozen airlines. All they want is their delivery.
Prepare your team for reliable performance all year long by setting up a winterization program. Here are some of the most important points to consider when setting up your fleet winterizing program.
Electronic and administrative
One area that your fleet winterizing program needs to address is all computerized work. That can include work on the equipment itself, but it should also factor in research and record-keeping.
When winter is approaching, it’s a good idea to pull reports from each unit’s computer and do a trip data reset. You should also update all module software and check with manufacturers for recalls.
This is also a great time to perform a full regen and check diesel particulate filter (DPF) pressure and temperature ranges. You should also load test each unit’s batteries and perform an inspection of the charging system.
Depending on where your fleet operates and the kind of work it does, your winter might be a prolonged period of cold, or it might involve extreme temperature changes as equipment moves from region to region.
Modern engines can easily stand up to the challenges of extreme temperatures. But if you want to ensure long engine life and optimize performance, you’ll give your fleet’s engines all of the help you can.
Fleet winterizing is a good time to run an idle speed balance check and a cylinder balance test on each unit. You should also check DPF ash counts.
When you start to smell winter in the air, you know it’s time to set your drivers up for a successful season. It can be more challenging to run operations safely when you’re facing challenging conditions such as freezing temperatures and on-road closures.
Fleet winterizing gives you a chance to check each unit for air leaks and to inspect the braking system. Check air tanks for water to ensure that brake lines don’t freeze up, and make a plan to add a brake line dryer when necessary.
It’s just as important to inspect windshield wipers, lights, and the unit’s heating and defrosting equipment. When light and precipitation make it difficult to see, having a clear view can make the difference between a successful run and a disastrous one.
Filters and fluids
You shouldn’t wait until winter to check on the fluids and filters in your equipment. Although with that being said, preparing each asset for winter is an excellent opportunity to proactively think about what your vehicles may need within the upcoming months. Make sure fluids and filters are helping rather than hurting a unit’s performance.
It’s also critical to check engine oil levels and take samples. You should check differentials for fluid levels and purity from contaminants. If the unit has an automatic transmission, be sure to check the levels and purity of that fluid as well.
It can be just as important to change filters before they can cause problems. Replacing air filters, Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) filters, and fuel filters are cost-effective preventive maintenance compared to towing or roadside repair. Don’t neglect the cooling system or the air dryer when you’re checking the unit out.
It’s also a good idea to inspect the unit’s air dryer before the onset of winter to help keep air tanks and airlines dry so that they don’t freeze up.
Fleetpal can make fleet winterizing easy to execute
Our fleet maintenance management software is the perfect tool for efficiently managing winterization. By using Fleetpal’s inspection templates, fleet managers can set up a winterization process that meets their fleet’s needs and empowers the whole team with the necessary information.
Get more information about Fleetpal’s software to see how much easier your job will become. Helping fleets grow is our duty, so we’re always happy to answer any questions you may have to get you started.