Don’t wait for those first flakes to get ready for snow season! All fleet vehicles and drivers should be ready for anything before the season even starts. To get you winter-ready, Automotive Fleet compiled best practice tips from the best-of posts from our archives.
Complete Thorough Inspections Before the Season Starts
Begin winter prep before it’s too late! Here’s what you’ll want to include in your inspection checklist:
- Check the battery and tighten cables if needed.
- Top off fluid levels.
- Add antifreeze.
- Wipe off headlight covers.
- Test all exterior lights.
- Check the brakes and tires.
- Monitor mudflaps.
- Repair chipped windshields.
- Watch for any corrosion.
Prep the Tires
Switch over to snow tires or at least check the tread levels and pressure on the ones you’ve got. Remember: For every 10 degrees the temperature drops, tire pressure goes down 1 pound per square inch. Some fleets “sipe” their tires, meaning cutting small slits in the tread block to provide better grip. Don’t forget to make sure your spare tire is ready, too.
Prepare the Vehicle Before Every Trip
Make sure all windows, mirrors, and license plates are cleared of snow before driving off. Keep your fuel tank at least half full to prevent fuel line freeze-ups. About once a month, check that your tires are in good shape and washer fluid, oil, engine coolant, and antifreeze are at the recommended level.
Check the weather report and road conditions so you know what to expect or replan your route.
Get Regular Washes
Ain’t nobody got time for corrosion; wash your vehicles frequently, including the undercarriage and inside wheel wells, to keep salt and other chemicals from seeping in.
Practice Safe Driving
No one should ever drive distracted or impaired, but it’s even more important to be alert in snowy and icy conditions. AAA warns that it can take your car 10 times longer to stop completely on snowy roads. And, the Weather Channel says that slushy or snowy pavement causes a 30% to 40% speed reduction on major roads.
Buckle up, watch out for black ice, use your headlights, slow down, avoid distractions, be extra cautious around curves, don’t rely on cruise control, use more following and stopping distance, and never slam on the brakes or accelerate if you begin skidding. If conditions become a whiteout, pull over rather than risking an accident and wait for conditions to clear up.
If you’re fully stopped and struggling to move, tap the gas repeatedly to get a rocking motion going and push forward, the website Porch advises.
Additionally, always give snowplows extra room on the road.
Be prepared for any car issues by having everything on hand should you become stranded or can’t find help. What should you include in your car kit? Pack these items:
- A shovel.
- Litter or salt.
- Tire gauge.
- A knife and other tools.
- Ice scraper.
- Flashlight and extra batteries.
- Phone charger.
- Jumper cables.
- Lock de-icer.
- Matchsticks or a lighter.
- First aid kit.
- A blanket.
- Extra warm clothes and handwarmers.
- Food and water.
Tips for Electric Vehicles
In the cold, batteries can charge slower and range can be reduced, so planning ahead is imperative. In fact, AAA ran a test, which concluded that 20-degree weather could reduce range by 10-12%. Avoid harsh acceleration and braking to maximize battery range, and use “Eco” or “L” modes to increase regenerative braking and recover additional energy from the battery.
Consider preconditioning to warm up the cabin and defrost windows, especially if it’s conducted while the vehicle is still plugged in. And park inside whenever possible.
Want to dig even deeper? Here’s a collection of even more helpful winter weather stories from the Automotive Fleet site.