Businesses with a fleet of vehicles face a variety of challenges during the winter months. With fewer hours of daylight and more hazardous road conditions caused by rain, sleet, snow or ice, safe driving practices and proper vehicle maintenance can go a long way in controlling costs and increasing efficiencies for drivers and their vehicles. The advantages can include everything from reducing the chances of vehicle collisions, personal injuries, worker compensation claims and downtime to avoiding expensive repairs caused by excessive wear and tear on a vehicle.
In addition to having a good driver training program that includes a written fleet safety policy, it’s important to make sure drivers are familiar with some of the newer emergency icons that may light up on the dashboard to signal problems that need to be addressed. These icons include:
- Traction Control, also called acceleration slip regulation (ASR), is designed to ensure maximum contact between the road surface and the vehicle’s tires when accelerating from a complete stop or speeding up to pass another vehicle, particularly under less than ideal road conditions.
- Stability Control utilizes speed sensors on each wheel, as well as steering-angle sensors and a hydraulic modulator control to increase traction during potential side-skidding situations.
- Antilock Braking System (ABS) senses and prevents wheel lock-up to improve traction and steering during hard braking. Because the ABS allows drivers to steer while applying maximum braking, there is greater vehicle stability in an emergency and this can make a significant difference in avoiding obstacles.
- Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) uses pressure sensing transmitters mounted inside each tire to monitor an unsafe change of 25 percent or more in the air pressure in one or more of a vehicle’s tires.
While it is never a good idea to skip or postpone routine maintenance, it is essential to be vigilant about maintenance in the winter, especially for the following.
- Wipers, Windshield & More. Inspect wiper blades, windshield washers and washer fluid level. Seal any windshield cracks, which tend to spread in the winter. Also check each vehicle’s battery for load capacity and the electrical/charging system, as well as all belts and hoses for softness and wear.
- Tire Replacement. Match dimensions indicated on the tire information decal for new tires to help avoid inaccurate speedometer/odometer readings, ABS brake malfunctions and multiple engine and transmission errors. Some vehicles with all-wheel drive require replacement of all tires at the same time because of potential driveline problems. Consult your owner’s manual or a fleet management professional for additional information.
- Tire Maintenance. Use a quality air pressure gauge to check pressure at least once a week. Correct tire pressure helps extend tire tread life and gas mileage and contributes to good traction and handling. Rotation of the tires, recommended every 10,000 miles, will also extend the tire life further. This is especially true for front wheel drive vehicles.
- Gasoline Selection. Seasonal blends of gasoline will ensure better performance in the winter. Always consult your owner’s manual for recommendations regarding grade or octane of fuel. .While gasoline that is too low in octane can drastically affect vehicle performance, higher octane can drive up expenses unnecessarily.
Last but not least, check the vehicle’s emergency roadside kit to make sure it is winter ready. Items may include a cell phone car charger or extra battery, first aid kit, and extra winter clothing, including gloves and boots, as well as a flashlight, tire gauge, fire extinguisher and snow shovel. Even with roadside assistance, being prepared can increase safety, reduce stress and make waiting for assistance more comfortable.
Bryan St. Eve is a Director for Enterprise Fleet Management in Louisville and can be reached at 502-458-3100 ext. 279. He is supported by an experienced team of veteran mechanics and accredited Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) technicians to serve the fleet maintenance needs of businesses with mid-size fleets. In addition to maintenance management programs, Enterprise’s services include vehicle acquisition, fuel management and insurance programs, as well as vehicle registration, reporting and remarketing. Visit the company’s web site at www.efleets.com or call toll free 1-877-23-FLEET.
For more information contact:
Robyn Frankel, Frankel Public Relations
Toll free: 877-863-3373, firstname.lastname@example.org
OR Ned Maniscalco, Enterprise Fleet Management