With the nation braced for the coldest winter in a decade (according to weather forecasters), leading IVECO and Fiat Professional dealer Guest Truck and Van & Sherwood Truck and Van are urging fleet managers to consider additional vehicle inspections.
Ongoing maintenance is key to ensuring fleets remain safe and effective all year round, but when temperatures drop, it is even more important to make sure that all vehicles are prepared for the inclement weather and road conditions.
Guest and Sherwood recommend that, as routine, vehicles undergo a brake test when in for a PMI (periodic maintenance inspection) – depending on the inspection frequency, this can be between every four to six weeks. Adding a protective wax to help guard engine and driveline components against corrosion is also a good idea. However, winter tyres are a must for fleets to cope with poor road conditions.
Shaun Taylor, Municipal, Specialist Vehicle & Emergency Services Sales Manager for Guest and Sherwood, said: “Winter tyres are not just for sub-zero temperatures – fleet managers should have them fitted once the temperature drops to 7°C. The composite rubber and silica compound keep winter tyres flexible, which results in superior road grip. Of course, also ensuring sufficient tyre tread depth and adequate inflation is vital in icy conditions.”
Shaun said that while all fleet managers should schedule vehicles to undergo additional winter testing, it is crucial for salt-spreaders and gritter trucks to have regular servicing throughout the season.
“Because of the environment that these vehicles operate within, there has to be a more rigorous maintenance regime,” he said. “Salt is exceptionally corrosive, which means that if these vehicles are not maintained to the highest standard it can be very problematic, especially for the local authority.
“When the roads are icy, these are highly visible vehicles doing an important job and they need to be in the best condition to perform properly.”
Another key consideration is the GPS and telemetry systems on gritter trucks, because it records everything the vehicle does, says Shaun.
“The GPS records where the snow plough is up, where it is down, the outside temperatures, the road temperatures, how wide the salt was spread and what time,” he explains. “Should an incident occur, the local authority has to retrieve the data, so it is essential that the GPS is in full working order.
“We also recommend swapping bulbs for LED lights to eliminate the risk of a blow-out. After all, if a bulb blows in the early hours of the morning it means drivers can’t get out to grit the roads and that just isn’t an option.
“Whether managers have gritter trucks in their fleets or not, it is essential that they are on top of their maintenance schedules and add in further checks over the winter period to ensure they are fit for the roads”