Winter is fast approaching, and maintaining your fleet in adverse weather conditions is always a challenge. Some small, preventative maintenance efforts paired with seasonal driver training can go a long way toward protecting your equipment, avoiding disruptions in service, and decreasing the risks of accidents during the winter months.
Safe driving in the winter requires more caution and attention to detail than the rest of the year. You might consider holding a special winter training session for your drivers, alerting them of the increased risks of operating the fleet during this season. Simple reminders—such as increasing breaking distance, clearing the sweeper of ice and snow before departure, leaving room for snow plows and other service vehicles, and driving at speeds appropriate for the conditions—can go a long way toward preventing accidents and equipment damage.
In addition to driver training, pre-season maintenance checks are important. Preventative winter maintenance between dual and single-engine sweepers may vary, but maintenance on the chassis can prevent future costs. These basic tips will increase vehicle efficiency in cold weather and keep drivers safe on icy roads.
Winter Maintenance Tips
- Flush coolant regularly, and check for leaks and low levels. Always maintain a 50/50 ratio between water and coolant, which creates a lower engine freezing point than using 100% coolant.
- Check battery output as well as the belts and charging system. Batteries tend to work at lower efficiencies in colder weather.
- Use chains when necessary, as full hoppers will increase stoppage distance. Keep track of tire pressure as well. Tires that are low on air will wear faster, making the sweeper more difficult to handle and increasing the likelihood of an accident.
- Windshield Wipers. Winter wipers have rubber coverings that will keep ice from collecting on the blade, but they need to be removed in the spring to avoid wearing out the wiper motor. Always turn off the wipers before turning off the engine.
- Wiper Fluid. Check wiper fluid levels regularly. You can easily go through half a gallon of wiper fluid keeping the windshield clear on a snowy day.
- Fuel Levels. Keep the sweeper’s fuel tank more than half-full during winter. Condensation forms in the empty part of the tank, which can then freeze and block the fuel line.
- Winter Supplies. Check that every sweeper has the supplies necessary to handle bad weather, such as ice scrapers, brushes, and extra wiper fluids. Consider stocking trucks with a shovel and sand to help drivers stuck in the snow. It’s a good idea to have a blanket or extra cold-weather clothes, just in case.
- Routine Maintenance. Make sure all other maintenance requirements are up to date and checked. Small issues with defrosters, headlights, or wiper motors can cause serious problems in bad weather.
Well-trained drivers and properly maintained vehicles will help ensure that your fleet runs smoothly in any weather. Please refer to your owner’s manual or local dealer for any other questions.