The extreme weather of winter may be in the rearview mirror, but it’s just as important during the warmer months of summer to prioritize fleet performance. Soaring temperatures, stormy weather, and tricky road conditions are just a few factors to consider when optimizing performance to reduce downtime or costly repairs.
The Heat is On
Think about the time spent optimizing fleets for winter weather, and apply that same strategy to ensuring vehicles are ready for summer. Start by performing these comprehensive maintenance tasks:
- Tires: While overinflated tires can explode if they get too hot, underinflated tires could end up dragging down fuel efficiency. Fuel is still a huge cost issue for fleets of all sizes, and properly inflated tires go a long way in optimizing MPG — especially during the summer when fuel costs tend to spike.
- Batteries: Because heat speeds up the chemical reaction that happens in lead acid batteries, electrolytes evaporate faster and batteries can die up to 33% faster in the summer. Don’t skip this area of the vehicle during regular maintenance checks.
- AC: There’s nothing worse than downtime during a delivery due to air conditioning issues that could have been prevented. Check the system for any leaks, loose hoses, or other issues that could cause serious problems during critical transport.
- Engine belts: Vehicle engines take a beating every winter, but especially when the weather tends to be extreme. Avoid the tow truck by checking and replacing engine belts now before getting stuck out on the road with costly repair bills.
- Electrical: Newer trucks are undoubtedly more sophisticated and complex, and winter road treatments like salt and other chemicals can cause corrosion and malfunctioning electrical components. Perform a thorough check of these areas before hitting the road.
The Perfect Storm
While winter is known for bone-chilling cold and piles of snow, summer weather presents its own challenges — among which are serious rainstorms and hurricanes, depending on where the travel takes vehicles. There are several steps drivers can take to stay aware and safe in these conditions and keep their vehicle in top-shape.
Don’t skip regular maintenance checks of the areas listed above! Just because you haven’t had problems with your fleet vehicles lately, doesn’t mean there’s not potential for something to affect performance.
Keeping tires in good shape and properly inflated can reduce the risk of hydroplaning in wet situations. This is key to helping vehicles slow down and stop to navigate flooded roads or other hazards.
Track weather with an app and pre-plan the travel route so you can be prepared for quick-moving storms or closed roads. Getting rid of distractions also go a long way to keeping all drivers safe.
If inclement weather happens on the road, drivers should remember these basic safety fundamentals: Always wear seatbelts, change speeds gradually, increase following distance, avoid using cruise control or the emergency break, and pull over if there’s any doubt that safety is a concern.
Road Work Ahead
As the weather warms up and the snow clears out, road work and construction projects also heat up. Regardless of the amount of experience drivers may have under their belt, these driving conditions can be challenging and dangerous for the most experienced of drivers. As is always the case, patience and attention from everyone who operates a motor vehicle are crucial to keeping everyone safe in work zones. Passenger cars trying to jump ahead, or pass other vehicles, in single lanes or trucks pushing deadlines isn’t worth the cost of any accident. Here’s what to know about traveling through work zones:
- There should be no shortage of signs alerting drivers to work ahead, including speed limit signs and any traffic pattern changes. Don’t ignore them!
- Allow for time to slow down, stop, or change lanes, and make sure following distance reflects that.
- Speeding is dangerous, and even the most seasoned truckers need to obey the signs that are deliberately placed along the route.
- Don’t wait to merge; other drivers may not be paying attention and it’s important to merge early and slowly — and don’t forget your blind spot.
- Truckers have a unique advantage of being higher up than other drivers, which allows them to signal to other drivers when they see traffic changes ahead. They can help make work zones much more safe by using this advantage to everyone’s benefit and assist other drivers, so pay attention to them if they are signaling you. DO NOT IGNORE THEM!
Regardless of the season, these tips can go a long way in supporting fleet management and performance, especially when it comes to the cost of downtime or repairs. Go one step further and proactively invest in customizable solutions that can offer alerts and notifications that reduce reactive maintenance, avoid downtime, and save on fuel costs.
Idle Smart has been working with fleets of all sizes in the US and Canada for years, and we understand the unique challenges faced by the industry. With features that include new SmartAlerts, remote management, truck-specific settings, and more, our user-friendly platform is reliable and easily implemented. Get in touch to learn more about how we can help offer peace of mind this summer and all year long.