Winter Work Truck Maintenance
A checklist for fleet managers working in cold climates, with common sense, money saving solutions.
Managing a fleet of vehicles is not an easy task. It’s a challenging balancing act of endless multitasking, trying to address the needs of your equipment and your employees. And as it does with everything else, winter makes that harder. So we put together a Winter Work Truck Maintenance checklist to help remind you of the areas where you can prevent potential losses during the more frigid months of the year.
As a side note, we realize we just told you about the new 2015 Ford F-150 snow plow prep option, and now we’re focused on Winter Work Truck Maintenance. If it seems cruel, we apologize. It’s currently late February, so chances are you’d rather be googling last-minute caribbean cruise deals or booking a week at an all-inclusive oceanside resort. We’re sorry, but we promise these tips will save you money, save you time, and save your sanity.
Fleet vehicles tend to get hammered harder than most during winter months. On average, commercial and fleet vehicles are on the road for eight to ten hours a day. Routine maintenance, with special care taken during winter months, is the difference between costly unexpected emergency repairs, unfathomable downtown, and lost business. Here are some Winter Work Truck Maintenance Tips for your fleet and commercial trucks and vans.
- Truck Batteries. Have your truck batteries tested like clockwork. Winter months can and will drain a truck battery faster than many managers realize. Moreover, battery connections corrode and get dirty in winter. Clean the connections and test the batteries regularly, so you can fix a potential problem before it costs you business. You should consider replacing batteries approaching 4 years old.
- Fluids. Coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid, and every other fluid in your fleet vehicles should be checked regularly, topped off, and flushed and replaced when necessary. Regular oil changes are a given, but winter is not when you want to overlook the other components. Preventative lubrication and thorough inspection will deter losses in the long run, but be sure to use low-temperature grease on pivot joints and engine oil with the proper viscosity matched for winter temperatures.
- Keep it Clean. A regular wax job isn’t something that should be only saved for your sportscar. Fleet vehicles that are regularly and thoroughly washed and coated with wax will withstand long-term body damage, and save thousands of dollars over the lifespan of that vehicle. When it comes to cleaning your trucks in winter, the undercarriage is the most crucial, so spends some extra time underneath.
- Washer Fluid. Your drivers are going through washer fluid nearly five times as fast in winter. It’s just the nature of the beast. Be sure to never run out in winter, when safety becomes an even greater priority. Heavy duty wiper blades are also a must for fleet vehicles. They last longer and save time and money down the line.
- Tires. We cannot speak enough about the cost-saving, life-saving benefits of winter tires. If you are operating your vehicles regularly through snow and ice, look into winter tires. It will save you down the line. Also, temperature fluctuations through these winter months means tire pressure is also changing regularly. Your drivers should be checking their tire pressure weekly, if not more often during in winter.
- Fuel Levels. Even though truck engines have come a long way over the years, best practices dictate that drivers should be informed to never let fuel levels dip below half a tank. This is primarily because you never want water vapor that has collected in the tank to be drawn into the fuel line and freeze. It can cripple your truck, and we still see this almost every winter.
- Block Heaters. Some fleet managers fail to use the block heaters on their diesel trucks nightly. What they overlook is the fact that those heaters are designed to maintain a temperature, not heat coolant from ambient temperatures. Moreover, be sure your drivers are properly warming up their vehicles before operation during those extreme low temperature periods.
- Driver Comfort. Your drivers will be more thoughtful of the equipment they use, and take better care of it, if they are comfortable and have some peace of mind. Emergency winter weather kits, working heaters and defrosters, and emergency blankets go a long way.
If any or all of these elements are above and beyond your regular maintenance checklist, we can help you get on a regular maintenance schedule by taking care of the heavy lifting. Our Service Department is one of the top-rated commercial truck service departments in the country. From commercial truck upfits of every configuration for every possible use, down to routine fleet maintenance, our technicians professionals are some of the best, most experienced people in the industry. Above and beyond that, we have also made it easy to schedule your service needs online, or order your own parts right through our site.
If you have any questions about Winter Work Truck Maintenance, or if you have something you’d like us to take a look at, just let us know. Between the decades of accumulated experience under our roof, there’s not much we haven’t seen. Stay safe, and stay warm!