The essential winter maintenance checklist for fleets

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Winter weather can often be unpredictable and with it brings a whole new set of challenges to prepare your vehicles for the cold months ahead.

When it comes to keeping your fleet and drivers safe on the road, proactive fleet maintenance is essential to running an efficient fleet, especially in the run-up to winter.

Even if your fleet has been regularly serviced and maintained throughout the year, there are a number of additional checks you can make to ensure that your vehicles are well prepared to face the colder weather conditions.

To help you fully prepare your fleet for the winter season, we’ve created a comprehensive winter checklist so you can always stay one step ahead.

1. Battery optimisation 

Batteries struggle to function in colder climates and tend to lose their power quicker.

Regular battery inspections should become part of your winter maintenance routine to avoid unnecessary breakdowns.

With electric vehicles, it's especially important to check batteries which run the risk of operating at a lower voltage - this will affect the ability to calculate the performance range for longer trips.

2. Tyre inspections

Tyre pressure can be negatively affected by cold temperatures, causing them to slowly deflate and impact tread life and safety.

Regular monitoring of tyres can significantly minimise the risk of cracks and splits as well as check tread depth which helps with greater traction and grip.

Taking precautions to keep tyre pressure at a healthy level is essential, which increases fuel economy and lessens tyre tread wear.

3. Braking efficiency

Brakes are essential to the safety of drivers, passengers and road users, and never more so than when winter sets in with declining weather conditions such as ice and snow. 

These weather conditions can begin to seriously impair braking effectiveness, through the build-up of condensation on brake pads which can increase the danger of corrosion and wear, locking up the brakes and in turn lengthening stopping distances. 

4. Electrical systems checks

Electrical circuits and wiring control every essential safety and comfort feature within the vehicle. During the winter, because of colder temperatures and shorter days, drivers are likely to use certain functions more than others such as heating, window defrosters and lights. Regular routine checks should be undertaken to monitor voltage levels dropping between the alternator and battery to ensure the battery is fully supplied with power and avoid malfunctions.

5. Keeping temperatures constant

Ensure every vehicle has sufficient coolant and that the coolant pressure is at the correct recommended level. Water can cause engines to crack and freeze, therefore checking that vehicles are regularly topped up with antifreeze can be hugely beneficial combined with inspecting heaters and water hoses for wear and tear will help maintain adequate temperatures.

6. Monitor compressed air systems

It’s worth considering replacing the air dryer cartridge of vehicles every autumn to ensure peak performance for brakes and other pneumatic systems - this will help maintain the longevity of vehicles over time. 

Additionally, water and dirt can accumulate in air reservoirs, these should also be emptied on a regular basis to avoid causing further harm.

7. Diesel system precautions 

With diesel-powered vehicles, when exposed to low temperatures, the diesel tends to solidify into a waxy gel due to its paraffin content. This can be prevented by adding an anti-gel mixture to the fuel system. Another consideration is to invest in engine block heaters which will help diesel engines reach required cylinder temperatures making it easier for engines to start during colder weather.

8. Water separators & fuel filter drainage

If temperatures reach below zero, there is a risk that water entering fuel systems can freeze and damage fuel systems and causing costly damage. In order to prevent this from happening, regularly drain water separators and replace water-absorbing filters. 

9. Vehicle equipment control

Before setting off on journeys, it's crucial to ensure that every piece of equipment needed for a specific fleet is in place. Whilst not obligatory, vehicles should be well equipped with spare bulbs, warning triangles, first-aid kits, and other items that can help ensure the safety of drivers and other road users during the more hazardous winter conditions.

10. Consider the specific requirements of your individual fleet

Your specific fleet needs to be assessed by vehicle type and their intended use in order to adequately prepare for winter. For instance, EV fleets need to be particularly mindful of the impact lower temperatures can have on charging times and range performance or those fleets that travel internationally should equip vehicles to withstand conditions in countries more prone to extreme winter conditions. In addition, journey times could also be impacted during winter owing to traffic, accidents or severe weather conditions, all of which need to be accounted for in advance.

Getting winter ready with Prolius Fleet

Being prepared in advance can help ease some of the challenges the winter weather poses for many fleets.

You can easily improve the efficiency of your fleet operations in winter by planning, carrying out preventive maintenance, and performing routine vehicle inspections to ensure your vehicles are fully road worthy before setting off.

Get in touch to find out more about how Prolius Fleet can help you successfully streamline your fleet’s productivity, whatever the weather.

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