According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), this summer is on pace to be the fourth-hottest on record. While the hot temperatures certainly take a toll on people, they can also adversely affect the vehicles and equipment in your fleet.
Heat can cause vehicles and equipment to overwork, which can lead to untimely breakdowns. Summer breakdowns risk putting both your vehicles and drivers in danger.
To prevent unwanted downtime this summer, check out these precautions you can take to improve the performance of your fleet and the safety of your drivers.
Increase Preventative Maintenance on Vehicles
Increasing the frequency of scheduled preventative maintenance on your vehicles and equipment during the summer months can help identify potential problems before extreme weather conditions make them worse.
Some areas to check include:
It’s critical to make sure your radiator is functioning and keeping the engine cool.
“If your cooling system has not been maintained properly, there is a higher chance that you will overheat your engine and cause major damage,” Randy Pruitt, CEO, Detroit Radiator Corporation, told VehicleServicePros.com.
According to Pruitt, a malfunctioning radiator could potentially cause the following issues: head gasket failure, cylinder head failure, warped cylinders, engine block failure, loss of fuel mileage and loss of horsepower.
To prevent these issues, Pruitt recommends checking each vehicle’s A/C condenser and radiator for debris, making sure cooling fins are working properly, and ensuring coolant is at the appropriate level.
Technicians should also check the condition of the hoses to make sure the coolant can flow through properly.
According to AutomotiveFleet.com, summer weather and hot roads can cause tires to deteriorate, requiring tires to be checked for wear and tear frequently. Tire pressure should also be checked often, and tires should be rotated regularly.
Ensure each vehicle has enough clean oil to keep engines functioning in extreme heat.
The condition of batteries and their jumper cables should be inspected during preventative maintenance.
“No battery is immune to the effects of high heat. Some will tolerate it longer than others,” Brad Bisaillon, director of strategic accounts and transportation sales, Trojan Battery, told VehicleServicePros.com.
A dead battery can leave your vehicle sidelined until a new battery is installed.
Check the functionality of the in-cabin air conditioner before the temperatures heat up to ensure drivers can remain comfortable on the road.
Instruct Drivers on How to Stay Safe
Even in a well-functioning vehicle, drivers endure hot conditions during the summer months. Drivers should be instructed on how to prevent themselves from overheating and how to stay cool in the sun.
Drivers should know the following tips:
When to Use the Air Conditioner
According to AutomotiveFleet.com, drivers should open their windows instead of using the air conditioner if they are traveling at 40 mph or slower. This will actually keep the cabin cooler. However, if they are driving faster than 40 mph then the A/C is more effective.
How to Block the Sun
When parked in the sun, AutomotiveFleet.com recommends drivers use a sunshade to cover the windshield. This will help keep the dashboard cooler and prevent the sun from overheating the cabin.
How to Stay Cool in Case of a Breakdown
If a vehicle does breakdown, drivers should do their best to stay cool until help arrives. During hot conditions drivers should keep water in their cab to stay hydrated. Depending on what is cooler — and safer depending on location — drivers should either stay in the vehicle with the windows down or outside of the vehicle in the shade as they wait for help.
Contact RTA Fleet Management Software today to request a free trial and/or demo to see for yourself how RTA’s preventative maintenance solutions can help keep your fleet running cool.