The temperatures are currently rising, which means that it is time to perform a summer maintenance check on the vehicles. But, are you aware of what you should be looking for with regards to preparing your fleet for summer?
Just a few minutes of your time and the 11-point checklist provided below could help save you trouble and time later on.
The tires on your fleet may have taken quite the pounding during winter. The drastic changes in temperatures can lead to tire pressure fluctuations while tires that are inflated improperly can reduce grip when it is needed the most. You can prepare the tires for higher temperatures by:
- Ensuring that spare tires are inflated properly and have ample tread depth.
- Checking the depth of treads and looking for any signs of too much wear, replacing where necessary.
- Checking the pressure of your tires several times a month and noting any fluctuations. For more consistent pressure, you can even consider using nitrogen.
- Removing the snow tires for better fuel economy.
Oil and Filter
One of the easiest preventive measures that you can take is to change the oil and filter in your vehicle. The only question that’s always up for debate is when this should be done.
Winter weather can take a toll on your engine oil depending on where you drive. Extremely low temperatures just like extremely high temperatures can accelerate the thermal breakdown of oil thus rendering it less effective in terms of lubrication.
Vehicle owner’s manuals typically recommend changing engine oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. However, if the vehicles have been operating in extreme temperatures, driving on dirt roads, or carrying heavy loads, it can be a good idea to get one done as soon as possible.
Hoses and Belts
Hoses and belts are the connectors that ensure that all the components in your vehicle work together. They transport important fluids such as coolant and oil and help trigger other mechanisms such as the power steering and the air conditioner. The Car Care Council recommends:
– Replacing timing belts (such as the ones that turn the engine) every 60,000 to 90,000 miles.
– Changing worn hoses and belts at the start of the season to help prevent breakdown later on.
– Replacing V-belts (such as the ones that turn vehicle accessories) every 40,000 to 50,000 miles.
Your air filter can be clogged with salt and other kinds of debris over the winter. Ensuring that you change it regularly can be an excellent way to improve your gas mileage and ensuring that your vehicle’s systems get the fresh air that they require, particularly on the hot summer days.
Vehicle manufacturers today generally advise replacing the air filter every 12,000 to 15,000 miles. Obviously, the only real way for you to know whether the air filter is in need of replacement it to remove it and inspect it visually.
According to Mark’s Mobile Glass snow and ice can be particularly harsh on the sensitive rubber blades of your vehicle’s wipers, which may cause them to fray and crack. The ideal time to inspect your wipers is at the start of the Spring season. If the wipers take several passes to clear away light rain or are leaving streaks, they could be in need of replacement.
Brake Pads and Shoes
Neglecting to change the brake pads can be both costly and dangerous. If you delay too much, they will be less effective when it comes to stopping your vehicle and are likely to continue wearing and causing damage to the rotors too.
The good thing is that disc brakes typically include a small metal part known as a “wear indicator”. As the brake pads continue wearing down, the wear indicator starts to grind against the metal of thee rotors, which causes a high-pitched squealing sound. If you hear such a sound, it means that it is time to inspect and replace the brake pads.
Radiator Fluid and Coolant
Debris, dirt, and rust will make their way into your coolant over time thus breaking down its efficacy. The summer heat can also be incredibly tough on the cooling system in your vehicle thus leading to overheating and engine damage.
To guard against this, ensure that you check the coolant and radiator fluid levels regularly and consult the owner’s manual to determine the most suitable time to drain and replace it.
Heat is one of the worst enemies of your battery. A car battery lasts between 3 and 5 years on average. If the battery is over 5 years old, you should consider replacement to avoid having to deal with a dead battery when you least expect it. Don’t forget to keep the terminals tight and corrosion-free using a battery corrosion cleaner.
Ensure that you check the brake, power steering, windshield washer, and transmission fluids as the temperatures start thawing. It is actually a great time to make this part of your routine check whenever you perform an oil change.
The first warm day of spring is the ideal time to test your air conditioner. It will help save you from having to deal with any surprises on a hot summer day.
If you live in an area with snowy climate, it is advisable to clean the undercarriage of the vehicle to get rid of any road salt.
Spring is also an excellent time to wash your vehicle thoroughly and wax it to protect its finish from the sun’s destructive UV rays as well as harmful dust. Keep your windows clean both inside and outside for better visibility as well as reducing the amount of glare.
Finally, ensure that you always have an emergency kit in your vehicle. Examples of good items you should include are jumper cables, flashlight, first-aid kit, empty gasoline container, and warning triangles or flares.