November 15, 2023
As we face the second of two storms to hit the UK in the past week we know that fleet managers will be thinking about how to prepare their fleet for the coming winter. To help with winter preparation we’ve put together our top ten tips for looking after your fleet.
Ten Tips to Prepare Your Fleet for Winter
1. Get Your Drivers to Check Their Cars
You should be regularly asking your drivers to check their vehicle conditions as part of their obligations as the driver but as we head into the cooler months we recommend they do a thorough check.
We’re going to mention a few essential items to check in the next couple of points but they will want to check the entire vehicle. This includes the exterior and interior condition and under the hood. Cold weather can make what is a small niggle into a major issue.
If you have fleet vehicles that are not assigned to a particular driver, for example pool cars or a minibus shuttle then you want to make sure these are checked as well. Your fleet team can do this or you can ask the person who is next driving the vehicle to do it.
2. Test the Brakes
One aspect of your cars in particular that you will want to test is the brakes. Winter makes braking distances longer because of the bad weather and darker skies, it can also make braking itself trickier with ice patches etc. Which is why it’s especially important that you make sure there aren’t any worn brakes in your fleet.
You can have your drivers check the brakes themselves through driver checks, such as emergency braking at a safe opportunity or testing the brakes when they first start the vehicle to make sure they don’t feel too spongy and the car doesn’t pull to one side. Another sign that the brakes need looking at would be if they’re squeaky or make a grinding sound when used. You should make sure your drivers know to let the flet maintenance team know if this is the case so the car can be looked at.
3. Replace Old Batteries
Winter is the time when batteries are most likely to die as they find it harder to conduct energy in the cold weather. All batteries have a limited lifespan, most between three and five years. If you have older models in your fleet then you might want to consider budgeting for replacing their batteries over the winter.
There will be warning signs of a failing battery usually, and you can brief your drivers on what to look out for and the process for getting their battery changed. Some of the most common signs of a failing battery are:
- How long it has been since the battery was last changed
- Ticking over several times before starting
- Needing a jump start
- Loss of power to electrical components such as the radio, electronic locking system or windows
- A warning light on the dash
4. Keep Up to Date with Servicing
Staying on top of regular servicing schedule is important all year round but maintaining any winter servicing can be essential to ensuring your fleet is as safe as possible, as well as helping you spot any issues that winter could exasperate into a more costly bill if left untreated.
5. Give Each Vehicle a Winter Kit
A winter car kit is something we recommend to all drivers, business and personal, and what you include will vary depending on the drivers needs. You can provide all drivers in your fleet with the same essential winter kit, that they can choose to add to, or vary it depending on the department and their needs if there is a large difference.
Items we suggest you include are:
- A warning triangle
- A hi-vis jacket or vest
- A bottle of water
- A torch
- A shovel
- A first aid kit
6. Remind Your Drivers of Safe Driving Practise for Winter
It’s not just the cars you need to look after but your drivers as well. Which is why this, and some of the following tips, are about you taking car of your drivers. We recommend giving your team a reminder of safe driving practices in the winter. This can be as simple as an emailed flyer with a few key bullet points or can be a more detailed training plan, and you don’t have to have a uniform approach to all but can tailor it to your department or drivers.
7. Offer Extra Training
Driving during winter can be daunting for new drivers, those in a new or unfamiliar vehicle or more cautious drivers. You can support them by offering winter driving training. There are a number of different training courses and methods available for you to choose from but we find online courses are particularly useful as they allow your staff to do the work at their own pace, and they can be tailored to the individual’s needs.
If you’d like to learn more about driver training and how we can help you with that then please get in touch with the team on 01722 322 888.
8. Remind Your Drivers of Emergency Contact Details
As we reach the end of the year, we know that the next couple of months will often see more employees on holiday (as they use up their allowance and during the Christmas break), drivers travelling further for the Christmas weekend and even department closures over the bank holidays, which is why it’s important you remind all of your drivers of the contact numbers in case something does go wrong.
The three key numbers we make sure that our drivers know are:
- The fleet management team
- The out of hours maintenance team
- The breakdown cover provider
You might have other essential numbers or these teams might be one and the same. However, they are organised we recommend sending an email with a clear subject so drivers can easily find the details if they need them.
9. Stock Up on Anti-Freeze
If vehicles in your fleet need anti-freeze during the winter then we recommend getting some now before the really cold weather sets in. It’s worth checking which vehicles will need anti-freeze and the type they need as it can vary between models.
10. Clean It All
Before it gets too cold, we recommend getting your fleet cleaned. A clean car makes it easier to spot any potential issues, such as a chipped window or damaged paintwork. A clean and rubbish-free interior is also less likely to attract small animals, give your drivers a better environment and can prevent dirt and rubbish from damaging the interior.
You can give your drivers vouchers to get their vehicles cleaned at a local provider or arrange a day on site where they can all get their car cleaned and complete other winter preparations.
Enjoyed this article? Read more of our latest blogs below:
- Looking After Your Company Car Winter Edition
- Your EV in Cold Weather
- Meet the Wessex Fleet Management Team
- How Your Fleet Could Benefit From Adding Hybrids
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