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August 1, 2019

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Keeping Your Fleet Cool in the Summer Heat

By Michelle Harry, Director of Marketing & Services - PACCAR Leasing

Summer is upon us in full force.  It’s that time of the year when many people are out enjoying summer BBQ’s, weekend outings, and outdoor family fun.  As the roadways significantly warm up over the summer months and become busier with summer travelers and road construction projects, it’s just as important to prepare and maintain your fleet equipment for summer driving as it is to winterize your fleet in the winter.

Summer conditions can affect vehicles and present a new set of challenges to drivers and your business operation.  The good news is most of these challenges can be avoided with proper maintenance and prevention.  Here are just a few key tips to keep your fleet operation running smoothly in the summer.

Prevention

The best way to avoid an issue is to prevent it from occurring in the first place.  This places special emphasis on the importance of daily driver pre- and post-trip inspections to detect early any potential issues and resolve them before they affect the operation of the vehicle.

Heat is particularly hard on several components of the vehicle, such as tires.  Tires will see greater wear in the summer due to friction of the tire on the hot roads.  Check tires frequently, particularly during heat waves.  Before checking tire pressure, wait until the tire has cooled.  Increasing temperatures cause an increase in tire pressure.  Don’t bleed the pressure when tires are hot.  This could result in inadvertently underinflated tires once they’ve cooled, which can lead to premature tire wear and failure.

Prolonged heat decreases the life span of belts and hoses.  Check them thoroughly for cracks or any sign of wear.  Belts that support engine driven systems such as the AC compressor or alternator should be checked daily.  Replacing worn belts before they fail will prevent breakdowns later down the road.

Inspect and top off fluids such as coolant, engine oil, brake and windshield wiper fluids.  The summer months put a lot of stress on the engine and cooling systems.  It may seem counterintuitive but your wiper system is just as important in the summer as it is in the winter.  In addition to needing it for the occasional summer rainy day, it’s also needed for clearing the windshield of dust and the abundance of summer bugs!

Maintenance

Stay current on the vehicle maintenance intervals.  The pre- and post-trip vehicle inspections are important for detecting an issue early.  Truck manufacturer recommended vehicle maintenance intervals are centered around a much deeper inspection of the vehicle beyond what can be seen from the daily visual inspection. 

The summer puts greater stress on critical components such as batteries and the AC system than the winter.  Heat accelerates the natural processes that result in battery decay.  At the scheduled maintenance interval, a battery health check is conducted to ensure it is functioning properly and free of any corrosion.  Additionally, the AC system will be checked for any leaks in the hoses or valves. 

Cool drivers are happier drivers.  The vehicle maintenance intervals are designed to keep your truck running and prevent breakdowns.  Staying on top of the vehicle regular maintenance intervals can improve the likelihood of an issue free summer. 

Truck Specs

If the operation of your fleet means regularly operating in warm climates year after year, consider the specifications of the truck when acquiring new vehicles.  Keeping trucks operating smoothly in extreme weather is improved if the vehicle was spec’d for these conditions from the start.  As an example, adding an APU can seem like the obvious component to spec on a new vehicle for warm weather.  However, as more and more municipalities adopt no idle rules, it limits the available places where diesel powered APU’s can be operated.  Your fleet may require a “no idle” solution to keep drivers cool in the sweltering heat.

PacLease offers exclusively Kenworth and Peterbilt vehicles for full service lease and rental.  Through the Peterbilt SmartAir® and Kenworth Idle Management System, a no-idle climate system is available installed direct from factory.  These APU’s have their own heavy-duty batteries which store power from the truck’s engine while in use, then operate independently during the driver resting periods.  Thus, keeping drivers comfortable in the sleeper without placing extra stress on the truck’s engine or draining the battery.

Summer driving conditions can be extreme at times.  With diligent prevention, timely maintenance, and a well spec’d truck designed specifically for your operation, your fleet can reduce downtime, keep drivers comfortable and your fleet operating smoothly. 

For more information on summer fleet maintenance, contact your nearest PacLease location.  Our maintenance expertise and truck spec’ing knowledge will keep your business moving forward.

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