6 Tips on Maintaining Commercial Vehicles
Do you run a business that uses one or two commercial vehicles or an entire fleet for operations? Regardless of the numbers, it’s important to give your cars “tender loving care” because of the enormous benefits they provide for you and your business.
Commercial vehicles are more susceptible to damage and accidents because they spend most of their lives running on the roads, hauling various cargoes and even towing heavy equipment. Because of this, they need to be properly maintained and checked over regularly.
The following tips will help keep your commercial vehicles in tip-top shape and running efficiently all year long.
1. Check your tyres regularly
The tyres are one of the most important part of your vehicles; They affect almost everything, from grip and steering to fuel efficiency. Yet, they are also one of the most damage-prone parts. When worn out, they become a root cause of many road accidents.
Before travelling, especially on long distances, always check your vehicles’ tyres for issues and replace them as needed. Generally, vehicle tyres should be replaced every six years. The more wear and tear they get, the more frequent they need to be replaced.
Commercial vehicles, in particular, get more beating from the constant moving around and hauling of heavy loads than private cars. Because of this, they need a tyre replacement more often. When their tread depths reach 1/16 of an inch, they are no longer capable of performing efficiently and are therefore unsafe.
There are several ways to measure tread depth:
- Americans do the penny test where they take a penny and place the Lincoln headfirst between the treads of the tires. If the treads have worn down to the point where the top of Lincoln’s head can be seen, the tyres need to be replaced.
- For a more precise reading on the depth of your tires’ tread, use a tread depth gauge.
- Some tyres also have tread wear bars that are embedded between the tire treads. These bars become more visible over time as the tread wears down. If the tread is even with the bars, it’s time to replace the tyres.
2. Check your vehicles for fluid issues
Just like tyres, your commercial vehicles are likely to use motor oil or transmission fluid at a quicker pace than your private cars. Regularly running out of fuel can damage your cars because they would suck anything just to keep going. These include the debris and particles that build-up at the bottom of the fuel tank. When the debris gets into the engine, they can block the filters and prevent the engine from working or performing at its best. Once lodged in the fuel filter, the debris can also be difficult to remove.
This is why it is important to always maintain a full tank of gas or at least above half of a tank at all times. Aside from limiting the condensation in your gas tank, it can also prevent your gas line from freezing during the colder months.
Aside from keeping your vehicle's fuel level high, also check your car for leaks, which also cause high fuel consumption and major engine damage. The colours of the leaks could mean a variety of different things:
- Red - Faulty transmission
- Orange - Rust in your radiator
- Yellow - Faulty Radiator Coolant
- Green - antifreeze leak
- Blue - windshield wiper fluid
- Dark Brown - Motor oil or brake fluid leak
- Light Brown - Engine oil or gear oil leak
- Pink - power steering fluid or transmission fluid leak
3. Keep an eye on corrosion
Clean and brand-new looking vehicles present your business in a professional and approachable way. Thus, it's important to keep them tidy and rust-free.
Regularly examine your vehicles for signs of rust and corrosion, which usually start around the wheel wells and bottoms of doors. The earlier you can catch these issues, the better you can fix them. There is no cure-all rust remover that can magically remove and prevent any corrosion from your vehicles; Prevention is always better than cure.
4. Don’t idle your cars for long periods of time
Idling the engine can also damage your vehicles. The constant wear and tears damages your vehicles’ engine, but so does leaving your cars idle for too long.
If not used for a long period of time, your vehicles’ engines deteriorate--Their various belts and wires, head gasket, spark plugs, and cylinder rings can get corroded and eventually stop working. The wheels can also get jammed if not used for months. Idle vehicles might also cause ineffective cooling from the AC and will need to be recharged.
If you do not need to use the cars, at least take them for a half-hour drive every few weeks. This will recharge their battery, keep their oil and hoses in good condition, and avoid “square” tyres.
Should you need to store your cars for more than 30 days, make sure to change the oil and top off the tank, and the tyres are inflated to the recommended tire pressure. Clean them up and keep them covered in a secure garage. To drive pests away, spread mothballs or cotton swabs dipped in peppermint oil along the perimeter of the vehicles.
5. Schedule check-ups and tune-ups frequently
Bring your commercial vehicles in for scheduled maintenance on a regular basis. If you have old cars, a tune-up is recommended every 30,000-45,000 miles. If you have modern vehicles, your “tune-up” services include an oil change and replacement of engine air filter, spark plugs and other engine parts.
A tune-ups is recommended when your vehicles start running poorly or running rough when started, as well as when they exhibit the following issues:
- Their engines don't start as easily as they used to be
- Intermittent ignition misfires
- Rough idle, sputtering, stalling, and slow acceleration
- Lack of power
- Poor gas mileage
A tune-up is also needed when the spark plugs are due for replacement according to the maintenance schedule. (Conventional spark plugs need to be replaced every 30,000-50,000 miles while those with iridium or platinum tips need a replacement every 50,000-120,000 miles.)
When taking your vehicles for a tune-up, always let your mechanic know what issues you have with the cars. This will help them identify and fix the problems fast, as well as tailor the tune-up according to your concerns.
6. Utilise modern technology
The more commercial vehicles you have, the more challenging they are to maintain and manage. This is particularly true when you’re running a car fleet.
Simplify your fleet maintenance and management by using fleet management software programs. These modern technologies allow you to create custom maintenance schedules, store maintenance records, monitor mileage and costs among other tasks. These digital programs help increase your fleet management accuracy and reduce the man-hours allocated to maintenance requirements. They can also help keep your drivers safe and monitor their driving while on the road, as well as reduce your total costs of running a commercial fleet.
However, not all vehicles can be integrated with modern technology. If you’re planning to utilise digital programs for your fleet, use modern commercial vehicles that easily integrate with fleet management software programs.
Commercial vehicles help drive your business and meet daily challenges. To keep your business operations running smoothly and efficiently, always make sure that your workhorses are well-maintained and in good condition.
At Positive Lending Solutions, we can help you find and buy your ideal vehicles for business purposes with affordable chattel mortgages from our wide network of lending partners across Australia. Call us on 1300 722 210 or fill out the Loan Pre-Approval form now.