September 20, 2017

PREPARE YOUR FLEET FOR WINTER PART. 1

Written by Devon Tamagi

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Winter is the almost here, and it’s the time of year that is by far the hardest on your fleet vehicles. From the wear-and-tear to the increased risk of collisions due to nasty road conditions, there are lots of ways winter can disrupt the activities of your fleet. Here are three tips that will reduce maintenance costs, the likelihood of collisions, and keep your fleet running smoothly through the winter months. 

 

THREE THINGS TO PREPARE 

 

1. TIRES

This one is the most obvious and arguably the most important, as tires can be the difference between getting from A to B safely and being a part of a collision that could be worth thousands in damages and potentially harm lives. Unfortunately, there is some common confusion around tires and how they are classified.

All-Season tires, the most common type, are a jack-of-all trade’s kind of tire. They don’t offer optimal traction in summer or winter, and while that doesn’t really matter during the warm summer months, during the winter, when black-ice is a real threat it’s a different story. To confirm this statement, all-season tires do not pass Transport Canada’s snow test to earn that little mountain pictograph that indicates a tire is winter ready. (Note: If you see M + S lettering on the sidewall of a tire, this means nothing as there is no qualifications or tests this tire must pass to achieve this symbol).

The better option is to purchase an all-weather tire for your fleet vehicles as they pass Transport Canada’s snow test. Or better yet, if your fleet has the infrastructure to store the tires, have separate sets specifically for summer and winter.This will ensure your vehicles perform optimally no matter the season, and will actually be cheaper overall as each set of tires will have a longer life because they are being used for their specific season. 

2. BATTERY

No one wants to be left out in the cold, especially after a long job on the road. Winter is often cited as the time of year that kills the most batteries, in vehicles of all sizes. But why is this and what can be done to stop it?

The first thing to know is what exactly the cold weather does to a battery. We all know a battery is essentially a storage unit for electrical power. The main difference between batteries is their capacity to hold a charge (how much power can it hold). This is why consumer batteries like Energizer advertise the longevity of their batteries as their competitive advantage; it’s a high capacity that increases their longevity. Well, cold weather reduces a batteries capacity, but how much? At freezing temperatures, a battery’s capacity drops by about 20%, while at -30 Celsius that number skyrockets to 50%. On top of a reduced capacity, winter conditions demand more use from a vehicle's accessories like lights and heat, further drawing on power.

So what can be done? Well to start, have your battery tested. Checking load, cold cranking amps, electrolyte levels and corrosion on the connections should be done BEFORE winter starts so your drivers aren't caught in the middle of a job at -30 Celcius.  

3. OIL

Oil is the lifeblood of your vehicle, lubricating all the moving parts in the engine, ensuring parts don’t overheat or break down prematurely. Motor oil also helps clean engine sludge and seal piston rings among many other things. But how does the cold affect the oil?

The first thing to understand is that viscosity is the most important property of a lubricant. Temperature influences the viscosity of any liquid, just think about what happens when ketchup is cold out of the fridge, compared to after it's been sitting on the counter for a while. It’s much easier to pour when it's room temperature. There is obviously an ideal viscosity for oil to optimally protect an engine. In days past there used to be two different types of oil for vehicles, summer, and winter. Winter oil was thinner and able to flow better to counteract the cold, while the summer oil was thicker so that it would be affected less by the heat. Nowadays all oil is multi-grade, meaning it has the ability to handle both winter and summer conditions. Those numbers on the bottle that you’ve seen (10W-30, 0W-40), they represent how viscous the oil can be. The First number represents the oil’s ability to perform in cold weather, the lower the number the better it is for cold conditions, while the second number represents the oil's resistance to heat (the W stands for “winter”). A vehicle will have a recommended oil type, but if your fleet operates in an environment with extreme cold or extreme heat, consider altering the oil to compensate.  So as winter approaches, ensure all your vehicles have fresh oil and make sure that oil is the right viscosity for your environment, that way you’re vehicles will be safer and operate more efficiently.

 

Help keep your fleet prepared for the ice and snow, Plug N Track GPS schedules maintenance to keep your fleet running no matter the weather. Safety ALWAYS RULES.

 

Plug N Track GPS helps you on the path to a safer and more profitable fleet!