For summer 2022, the weather forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is sizzling hot, with higher than usual temperatures expected throughout nearly all of the “Lower 48”.
As for the road forecast, summer is the busiest season for roadways. On top of vacationers and teen drivers out and about, construction and road maintenance projects typically ramp up in summer, causing traffic delays and rerouting that test the patience of even the most experienced drivers and fleet managers.
Keeping Cool, Calm, and Productive
Optimal fleet performance and productivity in any season are dependent on how prepared your drivers and vehicles are to handle the unique conditions of that season. Just as extreme cold temperatures and seasonal conditions in winter months can be dangerous, extreme heat and seasonal conditions in summer months can be just as hazardous as an icy overpass or white-out blizzard — if not more so.
To keep your fleet productive and on the road, follow along for some essential tips to help overcome the numerous challenges that the summer sizzle can bring to fleet operations.
1. Inspect Tires
Summer heat can seriously impact tire pressure. When temperatures rise, the pressure inside the tire expands, which increases tire pressure. The tire deflates as temperatures fall in the evening and pressure decreases.
Both under-inflated and over-inflated tires can cause blowouts. To reduce the chances of that happening and improve fuel economy, check tire pressure frequently and tread depth, signs of balding, tire cupping, and uneven wear.
Switch out winter tires for summer or all-season tires for greater MPG.
And be sure to check the spare just as diligently.
2. Check Belts, Hoses, Air Filter, and Fluid Levels
Prolonged heat decreases the lifespan of belts and hoses. Scrutinize them for cracks or signs of wear and replace them if necessary. Belts that support engine drive systems such as the AC compressor or alternator should be checked daily.
Heat puts excessive stress on the engine and cooling systems. As a result, overheating is the most common cause of summer breakdowns. To prevent breakdowns, have a professional inspect the coolant system, checking the coolant's level, condition, and concentration.
Check engine oil, brake, and windshield wiper fluids regularly and top off as needed. Also, check the air filter, which could be clogged with salt and debris from winter and spring, and replace it if necessary.
3. Give Brakes a Thorough Inspection
Summer means super busy roadways and an increase in stop-and-go traffic that can put additional wear on brakes. Ensure brakes are road-ready with a professional check of brake pads, lining, and rotors to ensure they are not worn down to dangerous levels.
4. Keep it Cool
Cool and comfortable drivers are happy and productive drivers, so ensure the air conditioning system is properly working. Check the weather stripping around the windows and doors to ensure it is well installed and is high grade so that the cold air stays inside the vehicle or cabin.
5. Clean and Examine the Battery
A weak battery could fail in excessive heat. Have a professional test the battery and check for signs of corrosion since battery fluid evaporates faster in hotter temperatures. Any corrosive deposits and battery acid should be removed and all connections re-tightened.
6. Pack an Emergency Kit
An extreme heat breakdown could risk drivers' lives. It’s better to be safe than sorry by preparing drivers for the worst with a roadside emergency kit that is always in their vehicle. Make sure to include the following items
- first-aid kit
- jumper cables
- fire extinguisher
- drinking water
7. Driver Training
With roads busiest in the summer months, the most effective safety tool is a defensive driver who is alert, attentive, and responsible. Leveraging telematics to correct risky driving behaviors and reward good driver behavior is a wise investment that can increase driver and fleet safety and improve fuel efficiency.
Safe and happy motoring!