When it comes to managing a fleet of business vehicles, every season has its challenges. While it's easy to remember to winterize and drive carefully when the roads get icy, it's far too common for drivers and fleet managers alike to forget about the risks of the hot summer sun.
We think of summer as 'road trip season' and a time when driving is easier than usual. However, there are some key vehicle maintenance concerns that every fleet manager, driver, and mechanic should be keenly aware of. The heat takes it's toll on road quality, vehicle parts, and increases the wear-and-tear of certain vehicle systems.
If you want your vehicles to remain in peak condition and your teams capable of performing service without needing roadside rescue, keep an eye out for these six summer vehicle maintenance problems:
1) Blown Tires
Summer temperatures can have a serious impact on your vehicle's tire pressure. When the temperature rises, the air inside the tire expands, increasing tire pressure. While falling temperatures in the evening will cause tires to deflate. Both over- and under-inflated tires are at risk of going flat or blowing out on the road, something no team wants to deal with in the middle of a workday. Or at all.
Make sure to check on tire pressure before vehicles leave the garage and encourage your teams to double-check if the temperature skyrockets in the middle of the day to make sure vehicle tires don't explode as they expand.
2) Overheating Engines
Another serious concern in high temperatures is the fact that engines will not be as able to bleed off excess heat. The problem is that heat follows the path of least resistance.
No matter how hot an engine gets, if it's over 85 degrees outside, there will be little place for the extra heat to go, making it more likely that engines will overheat and malfunction on the road. Give each fleet vehicle a thorough maintenance check and do what you can to reduce engine temperatures during hot days. Also consider warning your drivers about the signs of an engine that needs a shady break.
3) Leaking Fluids
Vehicles rely on a wide variety of fluids to function properly. However, just as heat causes air molecules to expand, it can also evaporate fluids and make them effectively thinner. This is especially risky with gasoline and winterized wiper fluid.
Check your fuel lines to make sure there are zero leaks for evaporated gasoline to escape. And if you winterized your wiper fluid to combat freezing, it's already well past time to change it back to the summer formula before the thinner solution begins to leak. And, of course, don't forget to watch out for leaks of other fluids as well.
4) Dead Batteries
Ever notice how batteries get hot when they run? Heat makes a battery work harder than before and can contribute to the building waste-heat under the hood.
Battery acid may evaporate and escape around the terminals, creating dangerous corrosion, and car batteries have a high chance of dying or weakening during heat waves. If you are working with older car batteries, the summer is a good time to source replacements.
For batteries still within their warranty, make sure to keep them well-maintained.
5) Broken Air Conditioners
The heat itself isn't necessarily hard on air conditioners, but the workout your teams will give them certainly is. If your vehicle air conditioners are aging or already had lingering maintenance problems to contend with, the constant use during the summer season is sure to reveal them.
And the last thing anyone wants is for their fleet vehicle AC to give out in the middle of a workday. Give each vehicle's air conditioning system a full check and tune-up. This is the best time of year to replace filters, fans, and refrigerant to make sure the AC will last when it is needed most.
6) Unpleasant Smells
Finally, any spills that happen in the car throughout the year are going to come back to haunt the noses of your team in the summer. Hot vehicles, especially those that must be parked in the sun while service is provided, will reveal anything that is less than clean inside a vehicle.
From old fast food wrappers lost under the seats to spilled drinks that were -mostly- cleaned up, these fumes can get overwhelmingly noticeable. If any unpleasant or unusual smells come wafting out of warm vehicles, it's time for a vehicle-wide shampoo and a talk with your teams about why vehicle cleanliness is important.
The summertime is an important season for fleet management because the quality of each vehicle matters so much to drivers and service teams.
Being a responsible fleet manager is all about making sure your vehicles are ready to go and pleasant to drive no matter how hot it gets outside. For more hot fleet tips and best practices, contact us today!