Fleet Maintenance - 50
solutions for fleets
Reduce idle times with in-cab
and engine coolant heaters
during winter months.
The 2018-2019 winter season never seemed
to end here in Wisconsin. Much of the
Midwest saw record snowfalls and bitter cold
In my days as a service manager, the rule
of thumb was that cold iron breaks and the
winter season was usually a profitable part
of the dealership's overall business plan.
Sales of tire chains, fuel additives, and other
cold-weather products were sold so frequently
we could hardly keep the shelves stocked.
Challenges with idling
While today's modern engines tend to start
better at colder temperatures compared to
older models, wear and tear on an engine is
highest when idling with no fuel miles-pergallon (mpg) to account for.
In addition, current emission systems
on these modern engines still don't like
cold-weather operation. For instance, when
idling the engine for an extended period of
time, the diesel particulate filter (DPF) will
get "face coated" with soot inside the filter.
This can cause multiple issues with exhaust
pressure sensors, diesel exhaust filter (DEF)
doser malfunctions, and excessive regenerations to clean out the soot. Combine this
with fuel-related issues, and the emissions
system stands to be one of the highest cost
items for a fleet.
One cold weather solution available to help
address these issues is specifying a fuel tank
heater. These products used to be very popular back in the 1980s. With the advent of unit
injected engines, the temperature of the fuel
returning from the engine was high enough
that the tanks were kept warm, thus reducing
fuel gelling issues. Today's modern engines
with common rail fuel systems, however, do not have as much fuel return so fuel
heaters can still benefit fleets operating in
By Tom Stencil
SENIOR REGIONAL MANAGER, NORTH CENTRAL
Eberspaecher is a worldwide manufacturer and supplier
of climate control systems, including air conditioning system products, idle reduction technologies, exhaust systems, and electrical control management. Stencil has 43
years of various transportation segment experience.
50 Fleet Maintenance | August 2019
Fuel pick up pipe
and fuel pump
The main point is to reduce cold weather idle.
The number-one way to do this is to add a fuelfired heater, available as either a bunk air heater or engine coolant heater.
Bunk air heaters
A bunk air heater option has been a common
specification for many national fleets so drivers
can sleep in comfort without idling the engine.
Besides the ease of use and low cost of maintenance, bunk air heaters can run up to 24
hours on a single gallon of fuel, compared to
approximately one gallon of fuel consumed per
hour idling the engine. Considering the average cost of diesel fuel is $3 per gallon, with a
driver spending 10 hours a day in the sleeper berth, based on a 120-day average winter
season fuel savings alone could be as much
as $3,600 annually.
That is just the fuel savings and not inclusive of the emission system's cost issues that
will come with the cold weather idle. With
this calculation, the bunk air heater return on
investment could occur just after one season.
Engine coolant heaters
Another solution for fuel savings is adding
an engine coolant heater. This is one of the
areas often overlooked when adding equipment to a truck or other machinery such as
skid steers, day cabs, trailer spotting units, or
remote equipment that does not have an electrical plug available for the engine-mounted
Also designed to help reduce idle time, an
engine coolant heater acts as a mobile block
heater that circulates hot coolant throughout
the engine, not just a small area of the engine
block. It is mounted on the vehicle and stays
with the vehicle wherever it goes. This means
electrical plug-ins or cords are not needed. To
use these heaters, fleets simply set the timer
to turn on the heater a couple of hours before
departure to have a warm engine before the
start of the day.
» Eberspaecher has
recently focused research
and development on the latest
coolant heaters to be even more reliable
and dependable. Features such as an
encapsulated brushless combustion blower
motor, moving the electronics away from
internal heat sources, and creating a
combustion burn process that requires less
maintenance have all helped to create one
of the most efficient heaters on the market.
Image courtesy of Eberspaecher
All mechanical products require maintenance,
and a system heater is no different. A heater
has moving parts that are replaceable.
The number-one action fleets can take for
heater system maintenance is to run the heater,
air, or coolant for about 15 minutes each month
of the year. This helps keep the fuel system
primed, the fuel pump's internal components
lubricated and moving, and internal combustion parts of the heater get cleaned out by burning off soot that may have developed inside the
heater. Another benefit to running the heater
each month of the year is increased reliability
of the heater starting when it's needed most:
during cold weather.
Some other maintenance suggestions
include replacing the fuel filter annually.
Visual smoke coming out of the heater exhaust
pipe when the heater starts may indicate the
heater combustion process is in need of service.
Fleets should then consider replacement of the
fuel atomizer screen when smoking occurs.
Another consideration would be to proactively replace the fuel atomizer screen annually
during a preventive maintenance (PM) inspection to reduce downtime.
There may come a day when engine coolant heaters will become standard equipment
to help preheat the engine and DEF. These
systems are designed to help vehicles run
better, last longer, save fuel, and reduce emissions, so everybody benefits from these cold
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Fleet Maintenance
Uptime: Is assessing cost-per-mile enough?
Do you know your TCO?
Vehicles: How to ensure optimum air system performance
In the Bay: The ABCs of ADBs
Shop Operations: The importance of managing fluid dispensing in the shop
Training: Invest in the future
Diagnostics: All scan tools are not created equal
Management: Are you good at PM?
Fleet Parts & Components
Tools & Equipment
Guest Editorial: Cold weather solutions for fleets
Fleet Maintenance - 1
Fleet Maintenance - 2
Fleet Maintenance - 3
Fleet Maintenance - 4
Fleet Maintenance - 5
Fleet Maintenance - 6
Fleet Maintenance - 7
Fleet Maintenance - Uptime: Is assessing cost-per-mile enough?
Fleet Maintenance - 9
Fleet Maintenance - Do you know your TCO?
Fleet Maintenance - 11
Fleet Maintenance - 12
Fleet Maintenance - 13
Fleet Maintenance - 14
Fleet Maintenance - 15
Fleet Maintenance - 16
Fleet Maintenance - 17
Fleet Maintenance - Vehicles: How to ensure optimum air system performance
Fleet Maintenance - 19
Fleet Maintenance - 20
Fleet Maintenance - 21
Fleet Maintenance - In the Bay: The ABCs of ADBs
Fleet Maintenance - 23
Fleet Maintenance - 24
Fleet Maintenance - 25
Fleet Maintenance - 26
Fleet Maintenance - 27
Fleet Maintenance - Shop Operations: The importance of managing fluid dispensing in the shop
Fleet Maintenance - 29
Fleet Maintenance - 30
Fleet Maintenance - 31
Fleet Maintenance - 32
Fleet Maintenance - 33
Fleet Maintenance - Training: Invest in the future
Fleet Maintenance - 35
Fleet Maintenance - Diagnostics: All scan tools are not created equal
Fleet Maintenance - 37
Fleet Maintenance - Management: Are you good at PM?
Fleet Maintenance - Fleet Parts & Components
Fleet Maintenance - 40
Fleet Maintenance - 41
Fleet Maintenance - Tools & Equipment
Fleet Maintenance - 43
Fleet Maintenance - 44
Fleet Maintenance - 45
Fleet Maintenance - 46
Fleet Maintenance - 47
Fleet Maintenance - 48
Fleet Maintenance - 49
Fleet Maintenance - Guest Editorial: Cold weather solutions for fleets
Fleet Maintenance - 51
Fleet Maintenance - 52
Fleet Maintenance - S1
Fleet Maintenance - S2
Fleet Maintenance - S3
Fleet Maintenance - S4
Fleet Maintenance - S5
Fleet Maintenance - S6
Fleet Maintenance - S7
Fleet Maintenance - S8
Fleet Maintenance - S9
Fleet Maintenance - S10
Fleet Maintenance - S11
Fleet Maintenance - S12
Fleet Maintenance - S13
Fleet Maintenance - S14
Fleet Maintenance - S15
Fleet Maintenance - S16
Fleet Maintenance - S17
Fleet Maintenance - S18
Fleet Maintenance - S19
Fleet Maintenance - S20