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Winter Fleet Management: How to Combat Damage & Maximize Longevity

Winter's icy grip has loosened, but its legacy lingers in fleet vehicles and heavy equipment. The battle against snow, salt, and freezing temperatures takes a toll, leaving behind a trail of potential problems. With some simple yet crucial post-winter maintenance workflows, procurement professionals can reduce costs and extend the life of their fleets while ensuring safety, reliability, and cost-efficiency. Here's how to tackle the most common winter weather damage.

1. Body & Undercarriage

Corrosion: Road salts creep into exposed metal, accelerating rust and structural weakening. Inspect undercarriage, wheel wells, suspension components, exhaust systems and body panels for signs of deterioration. Address rust promptly to prevent further damage, and apply protective coatings as needed. 

Winter's grime and dirt: A thorough engine bay cleaning will remove built-up salt, debris, and potential fire hazards. Don't forget to clean and disinfect interiors to remove dust, allergens and lingering odors. An all-purpose cleaner/degreaser concentrate can handle heavy- and light-duty cleaning. A clean, well-maintained fleet improves performance and boosts employee morale and public perception.

Diminished Visibility: Windshield chips and cracks, even seemingly minor ones, can compromise visibility and pose a safety hazard. Schedule prompt windshield replacements to ensure clear vision for your drivers and the safety of everyone on the road. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, even a small windshield crack can significantly reduce driver visibility by up to 20%. Replace worn wiper blades to ensure clear visibility. Check headlights, taillights, and turn signals for proper function and replace any burned-out bulbs. A headlight maintenance kit can restore clarity and brightness to vehicle lenses.

2024.04_Lawson_Blog Image_Fleet Winter Maintenance2. Focus on Fluids

Hampered Hydraulics: Winter weather can thicken hydraulic fluids, impacting safety and increasing wear on components in plows, waste haulers and across your fleet. Check fluid levels and inspect hydraulic hoses and assemblies for abrasion, leakage, cracking, rust buildup, kinks and tube erosion. Replace hoses proactively. Shops can take control of hydraulic maintenance by making their own OEM-quality custom hose assemblies to lessen downtime and reduce hose costs by up to 50%. 

Clogged fuel lines: When untreated diesel fuel is exposed to extreme cold, it gels and can clog lines and filters, causing engine failure. A premium diesel fuel supplement with anti-gel additives can lower the pour point by 15 to 25 degrees and provide better cold weather fuel flow.

3. Tires & Brakes

Tire TLC: Winter driving can lead to uneven tire wear, punctures and cuts from potholes or debris hidden in snowdrifts. Inspect tires for tread depth, cracks and bulges. Consider rotating and balancing tires for even wear. Replace worn tires and get an alignment check to ensure optimal handling.

Low Temperatures & Pressure: Fluctuating winter temperatures affect tire pressure, which can then strain the engine and decrease fuel efficiency. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, proper tire inflation can save as much as 11 cents per gallon on fuel and can extend the average life of a tire by 4,700 miles.

Brake System Checks: Winter's heavy braking demands take a toll on brakes. Inspect brake pads and rotors for wear and tear, and listen for any unusual sounds like grinding or squealing.

4. Beyond the Vehicle

Documentation & Records: Keep meticulous records of all maintenance performed on each vehicle. This helps track potential issues, schedule future preventative maintenance, and ensure compliance with safety regulations.Lawson Kent Automotive Program Flyer

Proactive maintenance is a standard that procurement teams can champion for the safety, performance, and longevity of valuable public assets. Organizations that prioritize post-winter maintenance ensure their fleets are ready to tackle the coming seasons now and in the future. As a brand of Lawson Products, Kent Automotive can supply fleet and equipment maintenance products and services that are unique to your fleet needs. In addition, Kent Automotive solutions are available on a cooperative contract with Lawson Products through OMNIA Partners. This means that our partnership can help streamline your purchasing process so you can focus on more important matters within your organization, while saving valuable time and money. 

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About Lawson Products & OMNIA Partners

Lawson Products offers a broad range of fleet, facility, and grounds maintenance products at deeply discounted prices. Through the purchasing power of OMNIA Partners, participating agencies can leverage a cooperative contract with Lawson Products to ensure the products they need are on hand and stocked while saving valuable time and money in the process. Discover a better way to buy and get connected with Lawson Products today!