Summer tips for fleets

16/05/2017

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Although most of us love the hot weather, it can often be bad news for vehicles and employees. Not only do drivers feel sleepy and irritable, vehicles are prone to breakdowns if not properly maintained.

Hot? No bother

Keeping employees safe, comfortable and productive on the road is a key responsibility for any fleet manager, and during hot summers, drivers can struggle to keep focussed while driving. Safety organisation ROSPA suggests that 20 per cent of road accidents on major roads are fatigue related.

In a hot vehicle, drivers can feel sleepy or irritable, making it harder for them to drive safely. Although the only real solution for fatigue is sleep, efficient air conditioning can help keep drivers fresh and alert whilst driving and provides a more comfortable working environment. This in turn improves productivity.

A rise in temperature can also have an effect on other areas of a vehicle. Worn brake components or fluid that’s too old or has sunk below the minimum level can affect how quickly your van stops (a spongy brake pedal could indicate a problem here). Changing the fluid will help a vehicle brake more efficiently.

It’s important then that all fleet owners have their vehicles checked and, where required, have their air conditioning system serviced and brake fluid changed. This should be at least every two years.

What else should you consider?

Engine coolant levels It is recommended that you check that your coolant fluid level is between the maximum and minimum marks on the tank at least once a week when the engine is cold. This is absolutely vital if you are to prevent overheating in the summer.

Cooling fan The only way to check on the health of your cooling fan is to turn the heater to cold and run your vehicle to normal temperatures. Once this has been reached, keep the engine running while parked up but do not use the vehicle for five minutes. The fan should automatically kick in after this length of time. A problem will show if the fan fails to activate and your engine temperatures start to spiral upwards.

Bodywork Summer is often the time of year for essential road maintenance. This results in loose debris on newly surfaced roads, such as stones and tar, which can damage the bodywork of your vehicle. Ensure that you drive within the recommended speed limits when passing through road work zones and not drive too closely to the back of other vehicles that could flick up debris.

Overheating Sometimes the heat can still get a bit too much for your vehicle, particularly if you are stuck in a holiday traffic jam. The best way of dealing with this is to turn the heater on to full and activate your air conditioning until the problem subsides.

Tyres Punctures are the most common cause of summer breakdown according to the AA with high temperatures often aggravating damage, which may already be present. It is therefore important to monitor your tyre pressures.

Batteries Batteries go through a lot of pain during the winter and it is entirely possible that your unit may carry existing damage from this. Problems in this area are usually indicated by vehicles struggling to start.

Vision Glare from the sun will be made worse by a dirty windscreen and increase the likelihood an accident as a result of poor visibility. Stock up with windscreen wash and ensure wiper blades are not worn.

Air Conditioning It is estimated that 15% of the refrigerant gas will be lost annually and you should ideally have your air conditioning unit serviced either every 30,000 miles or every two years.

Air filter The air filter is designed to keep dirt and debris from entering your car; it therefore has a tendency to become clogged up, particularly in the summer. You can aid the air flow coming into the engine by replacing the filter every year.

Oil Levels Oil is the like a blood supply which flows through your engine, so check that your car’s oil levels are between the maximum and the minimum on your dipstick

Pollen A summer service could save you suffering from pollens and non-stop sneezing, as the dreaded hay fever season continues. A simple cabin filter change at will capture nearly 99 per cent of pollens.

Did you know?

Hay fever affects more than one in five people in the UK. Yet, according to Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, over 25 per cent of van drivers choose not to change cabin filters during a routine service. Allergy-stricken drivers could feel their eyes and noses streaming at the wheel, making for an uncomfortable and dangerous driving experience. In fact, research by the AA has found that a sneeze at 70 mph on the motorway will see a driver potentially lose vision for as much as 100 metres.

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