By Craig Thomas on Dec 08, 2016
In order to take full advantage of the improving spring conditions, fleet drivers need to ensure their vehicles are ready for the new season. Following these 10 top tips will prepare cars and vans for the months ahead and ensure an efficient fleet.
1. Get washing
Salt deposits from road gritting can also build up underneath vehicles, so it’s important to clean this off to avoid any possible corrosion.
Your best bet is to use a pressure washer to clean the underside of vehicles, but be careful with delicate areas and make sure that rubber areas or oil seals don’t get sprayed.
2. Cleaning windows
According to data from the Department for Transport, 2,884 people were injured in accidents caused by the blinding effects of the sun in 2015.
Dirty windscreens can make glare significantly worse as dirt and debris scatter sunlight and lower visibility further, so drivers should make sure their windscreens, mirrors and windows are spotless before setting out.
3. Don’t forget your wipers
The start of spring is also the optimal time to check the blades on your fleet vehicles’ windscreen wipers, as they will probably have been working overtime during the winter months.
There’s a good chance that they will need replacing (annual replacement is widely recommended): tell-tale signs include streaking, noisy wiping, irregular movements across the screen and ragged or distorted blades.
If the blades don’t need replacing, make sure that they’re cleaned, in order to avoid any damage to the windscreen.
4. Get ready for bugs
The spring is the start of the annual onslaught of flies and bugs, so make sure that the washer fluid reservoirs of your fleet vehicles are topped up.
It’s also worth ensuring that drivers clean their windscreens and headlights regularly. It might also be a good idea to invest in specialist sprays that can be kept in vehicles in order to keep them as bug-free as possible.
5. Don’t get frozen out
Spring means rising temperatures, but it’s worth topping up the anti-freeze in your fleet’s vehicles: the corrosion inhibitors contained in them could help them avoid expensive engine damage. A 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water can prevent engine water from boiling on hot days, which can cause long-term damage.
6. No time to be tyred
If your fleet switches to winter tyres when temperatures drop in the autumn, now is the time to swap your rubber back to regular tyres.
Any ongoing checks on tyre pressures and tread condition need to be conducted anyway, but these are even more important when switching back to summer tyres: during their winter storage period, they’re likely to have deflated.
Check all tyres for damage, to ensure that they meet the legal minimum tread depth – 1.6mm across the central ¾ of the breadth of the tyre and around the entire outer circumference (although a safer policy is probably to change them when they get to 2mm).
7. Align on the road
After a winter of having to navigate worn road surfaces and potholes, the start of spring is a good time to check the alignment of your fleet vehicles’ wheels and tyres. Misalignment can affect handling, potentially making the car unsafe.
8. The air we breathe
Where fitted, the air conditioning systems of your fleet vehicles will be heavily used over the coming months. A car’s air conditioning system loses approximately 10% of its refrigerant every year on average.  Recharging the air con means replacing this lost refrigerant. Manufacturers recommend you service your vehicle’s air conditioning every two years, or more if it smells stale when switched on (which can be a sign of mold building up in the condenser).
9. No filter?
If some of your staff are unlucky enough to suffer from hay fever, but are lucky enough to have a pollen filter in the fleet vehicles they drive, spring is the time to check and replace them. Pollen filters clean the air that enters the vehicle and can remove dust and pollen before it enters the cabin of your car. Signs that they need replacing include dirt or debris in the ribs, damp or a bad smell.
10. Lose weight
Now that travelling conditions are less treacherous, drivers can take their winter survival kit out of the boot. So they can ditch the shovel, blankets, boots, bag of gravel/cat litter, etc. until October, to lighten the load and, as a result, improve fuel efficiency. And while driving in spring may not have the same hazards as being on the road in winter, drivers should still keep a basic motorists’ toolkit, reflective triangles, first aid supplies and a high-vis jacket in the vehicle in the event of an emergency.
Your vehicles need maintenance all year-round, but changing seasons mean changing requirements. And, a bit of spring cleaning also acts as a reminder to employees of their obligations.