Winter Fleet Management – Best Practices
Whether we want to believe it or not, winter months and colder weather are inevitable. Winter can pose significant challenges for companies that rely on a fleet of vehicles to conduct their business operations. With outside temperatures decreasing, icy roads, and snow on the way, ensuring the safety and reliability of company fleet vehicles becomes paramount. Implementing a comprehensive winterization strategy can help mitigate risks and maintain operational efficiency during the cold months. Here are some key tips to consider when winterizing your company’s fleet vehicles.
It is recommended that all company vehicle tires are inspected prior to the first snow of the season. When inspecting tires, here is what to look for:
Check Tread Depth
Measure the tread depth of each tire using a tread depth gauge. Ensure that the tread depth is adequate for providing sufficient traction on wet, icy, or snowy roads. If the tread depth is below the recommended level, ensure tires are replaced.
Look for Signs of Wear
Examine the tires for any signs of uneven or excessive wear, such as cupping, feathering, balding, or flat spots. Uneven wear patterns can indicate alignment or suspension issues, which must be addressed prior to the winter season.
Inspect for Cuts or Punctures
Check the tire surface for any cuts, punctures, or visible damage. Such damage can compromise the tire’s integrity and lead to a potential blowout. All tires that are identified to have significant damage are to be replaced.
Check for Cracks and Bulges
Inspect the sidewalls of the tires for any cracks, bulges, or bubbles. These can be signs of internal damage or weak spots, which may cause a tire to fail.
Verify Tire Pressure
Use a tire pressure gauge to check the air pressure in each tire, including the spare. Ensure that the tire pressure matches the recommended levels specified in the vehicle’s manual, or tire sidewall. Cold temperatures can cause tire pressure to drop, so it’s essential to maintain the correct pressure for optimal performance and safety.
Properly inspecting a vehicle’s tires prior to winter is a key component in preparation. However, there are still other things to keep in mind. Such as:
Check Battery Health
Colder weather puts stress on electrical components such as a vehicle’s battery. Batteries exposed to lower temperatures will typically have a shorter life span. Test its charge and replace it if necessary. This will ensure a lower probability of starting issues in the colder months.
Inspect the Cooling System
Check the radiator, hoses, and coolant levels to ensure that the cooling system can withstand freezing temperatures. Use the appropriate, or otherwise listed antifreeze mix to prevent engine components from freezing.
Examine the Heating System
Verify that the heating system is working correctly, including the cabin heater and the defroster. Ensuring proper function will keep the driver comfortable and keep them warm in the event of a vehicle breakdown that will require an employee to wait for assistance.
Examine Vehicle Lights
Ensure all lights, including headlights, taillights, brake lights, and turn signals are functioning properly. Replace as needed.
Perform Regular Maintenance
Schedule routine maintenance checks throughout the winter season to ensure that all components of the vehicle remain in good working condition and address any issues that may arise.
Review Safety Protocols
Provide drivers with safety training related to topics specific to winter driving. This can include techniques for driving in snow and ice, how to maintain and evaluate proper distances, and points of contact for a driver to reach in the event of an emergency. Ensure drivers understand the responsibility of remaining updated on weather conditions prior to driving.
Lastly, provide vehicles with emergency supplies that will aid a driver in the event of an unexpected breakdown. Emergency supplies should include blankets, non-perishable food, water, first aid supplies, and a flashlight. If drivers are using fleet vehicles routinely, they should stock extra warm clothing, and footwear in the vehicle.
Prior to colder weather, here are some key tips to consider when winterizing your company’s fleet vehicles.
- Inspect all vehicle tires for signs of wear.
- Check each vehicles battery health.
- Inspect cooling systems, or any fluids that may require winterization.
- Examine vehicle heating capabilities.
- Ensure all vehicle lights are in operation.
- Keep up to date with vehicle maintenance.
- Review/train employees on winter driving.
- Outfit vehicles with emergency kits, providing the essentials for keeping drivers comfortable in the event of an emergency.
Please reach out to your M3 risk manager with any questions you may have about managing your fleet this winter.