The More You Know: Vehicle Maintenance Tips You Might Not Be Thinking About
Maintaining your fleet is one of the most important things you can do for your business. Everyone knows the obvious ones – regular oil changes, checking fluids and tire wear, replacing spark plugs – but there are other ways to keep your fleet in tip-top shape that might not come to mind when you think of traditional vehicle maintenance.
Keep the pressure on. If tires are underinflated, there is more contact and friction between the tire and the road, which wears the rubber faster, makes the engine work harder, and uses more gas.
Tear it up (safely). Head out to the highway, and get the vehicle up to 70 miles (make sure you’re following the speed limit though!) per hour for 10 miles once a month. This will evaporate any water and gas buildup in the engine and exhaust system.
Don’t just coast along. Keep the vehicle in gear. Coasting in neutral may improve gas mileage by a small amount, but it puts more work on the brakes, leading to premature – and pricey – repair costs.
Show your interior some love. Cleaning the dashboard, doors and seats regularly will help them last longer, and also makes for a more pleasant driving environment.
Get moving. Recent studies have found that idling your vehicle to warm it up on cold days isn’t as effective as warming the engine by actually driving.* Idling in the cold not only wastes fuel, but also strips oil from engine cylinders and pistons, creating more wear and tear on the engine.
Brake – then park. Putting a vehicle into park and then activating the parking brake causes the vehicle to settle back, putting unnecessary pressure on the transmission. With the vehicle still in drive and your foot on the brake, pull the parking brake. Then put the vehicle in neutral and release the foot brake before shifting to park.
Don’t forget your filter. The oil filter traps dirt – particles down to 10 microns in diameter, in the case of today’s top-of-the-line filters – that would otherwise harm your engine. Replace it every time you change your oil so the fresh oil doesn’t get mixed in with the old.
Stay thirsty. Always make sure you have at least a half-tank of gas during cold weather. Otherwise, any space above the fuel in the tank fills with moist air and condenses to water in the cold. Water is denser than gasoline and settles to the bottom of the tank. If enough accumulates, it will move through the fuel line to the engine.
Keep these tips in mind and share them with your drivers, and your vehicles should last longer, run better and be less prone to sticky maintenance issues.
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