With spring finally upon us, it’s time to clean away any evidence of winter and think ahead to the warmer months to come. Preventative maintenance now will help prepare your fleet for summertime, which brings a different kind of wear and tear than the wintertime. Here is a 7-point checklist that can help you with preparing for the next season:
1. Winter tires be gone
The right time to take off your winter tires and replace them with all-season tires depends on the average temperature you’re experiencing. Sources say it’s best to wait until temperatures are consistently above 44.6°F (7°C) before switching winter tires for the all-season kind. It’s also important not to wait too long to remove winter tires because they’re not designed for use in the summer. They could wear out more quickly in warmer temperatures, but they also increase drag and friction, which decreases fuel efficiency. When you do make the switch back to all-season tires, don’t forget to check your tire pressure a few times a month as changes in the temperature can make the pressure fluctuate.
2. Wash, wax and detail inside and out
Springtime is best to thoroughly wash your vehicles to rid them of corrosive road salt, ensuring to wash the undercarriages. Waxing can help protect the paint finish from dirt and UV rays. It’s also a good idea to clean and detail the inside of your vehicles, where the floor mats and upholstery could have salt stains.
3. Brand new windshield wiper blades
Early spring is the best time to inspect your wipers and assess any damage the ice and snow have caused. New wipers are such a small investment for your fleet, but can make a world of difference for visibility and safety for your drivers.
4. Air filters
Air filters can get blocked with winter debris. Changing out your air filters on a regular basis will ensure that your fleet vehicle systems are getting fresh air, which is especially vital on hot summer days.
5. Air conditioning
The air conditioning system in your vehicles probably have not been activated since before the winter. Avoid any surprises on the first really hot day of summer by checking early on in the spring if the A/C is in good working condition.
6. Cooling system checked
The summer heat can be brutal on your fleet vehicles’ cooling systems, which can lead to overheating and damage to engines. To prevent this from happening, check your coolant levels on a regular basis and replace the coolants according to the owner’s manual schedule.
7. Oil and filter change – and top up fluids
Doing an oil change on your fleet is one of the simplest preventative maintenance jobs, but has a big impact. It’s just a matter of – how often? Most owner's manuals will recommend that you change your oil every 3,000 – 5,000 miles, but if your fleet has been enduring extreme temperatures, carrying heavy cargo, or driving on dirt roads, you should probably consider changing oil more frequently. Extremely cold or extremely hot temperatures can accelerate the thermal breakdown of oil, which makes it less effective as a lubricant. In addition to changing your oil, make it part of your routine to check the power steering, brake, and transmission fluids at the same time.
Following this maintenance routine in the spring will have your fleet running efficiently and optimally once the hotter season is in full swing, preventing unpleasant surprises and allowing you to focus on other parts of your business.