Fleet Maintenance - 13

[ON THE VEHICLE ]

C

old weather can be detrimental to commercial
vehicles, but with some early preparation fleets
can stay ahead of the seasons and be ready for
the change in temperature.
Understanding how various vehicle systems
are affected by cold temperatures, how to prepare
before the temperature drop, and what products
to stock to help ease the stress of cold weather can
help maximize vehicle uptime, reduce wear and
tear, and keep drivers safe.

Electrical system

		┬╗Winter preparation will help
reduce wear and tear, maximize
uptime, and keep drivers safe.
1201265321 | shaunl | Getty Images

The demand on the electrical system increases
significantly during winter months. From the starter having to turn over a cold engine to accelerated
wiring corrosion from chemicals used to treat road
surfaces, it is essential to check all electrical components and materials before winter begins to ensure
proper functionality. This is also a good time to
provide added protection to high-risk components.
During the summer months, battery components break down faster from the higher temperatures. Because of this, it is vital for fleets to
understand the condition of the batteries before
transitioning into the winter months.
"The cold temperature has more of an effect
on the efficiency of the battery, and coming out
of the heat of the summer those batteries are at
their worst condition," says Jeff Steer, national
sales manager at Vanair, a manufacturer of engine
starters, battery chargers, and boosters. "They
have been stressed all summer long and now we're
going to ask them to be their most efficient when
the temperatures turn cold."
Batteries perform best at 80 degrees F. As temperatures drop, the chemical reaction within a battery
slows down, thus reducing the battery's efficiency.
"When you get down to 0 or 10 degrees
Fahrenheit, the battery is 50 percent efficient,"
Steer says. "If the batteries were fatigued during
the summer, now you are compounding that
inefficiency and the battery only has so much
potential power."
Another challenge in winter months is that
a battery has the potential of freezing if it is
discharged too low.
"A completely discharged battery will freeze at
32 degrees Fahrenheit," says Larry Rambeaux, sales
application engineer for electrical component and
equipment provider Purkeys. "You drive all the acid
into the plates and what is left is just water. When
[the batteries] do freeze, you can burst connections
apart inside the battery. You have to limit how low
you discharge those batteries."
Fleets heading into winter need to load test the
battery, clean batteries and cables, and check the
cables from the battery to the starter and alternator, Rambeaux recommends.
"You can have the best batteries, starter, and
alternator, but if you can't get the energy from one
to the other properly, the system will never work
properly," he notes.
Rambeaux adds that when it comes to testing
the electrical system in the bay, it is important

that technicians are properly trained on how to
use the equipment, such as a good multimeter.
"If they don't know how to use [the testing
equipment] then what good does it do?" he says.
"If they use it wrong, they can do just as much
damage [as] if you didn't do anything at all."
Similar to batteries, cold temperatures also place
an extra burden on a vehicle's wiring harnesses.
"Wiring and harness materials become less
flexible and more brittle with cooling temperatures," says Kyle O'Dell, director of engineering at
Optronics International, a vehicle lighting manufacturer. "Heavy ice and snow buildup can accumulate on cables and wiring, causing excessive
strain on all elements. Connectors are vulnerable
to being pulled loose and, in some cases, torn loose
from their cables entirely."
Adding heat-shrink moisture barriers to protect
or shield some of the electrical system's most
at-risk locations, or employing an "over-molded"
harness and electrical system, are ways fleets can
prepare for winter, O'Dell says.
Electrical connection points are more prone
to allowing moisture into the system, leading
to corrosion.
"When connectors are located above, behind, or
close to wheels, fleet maintenance professionals
may want to consider plastic looms, moldings, or
tubing as additional layers of protection," O'Dell
adds. "These protections can also reduce the
potential of damage from rocks, road debris, and
ice accumulation in winter."

Considering that as the
temperature drops so does
tire pressure, planning ahead for
each trip is even more important
during winter and should be part
of the driver's pre-trip inspection.

Cooling system

Through the use of engine coolants and supplemental products such as a coolant heater, fleets
are able to keep the engine protected from cold
temperatures.
Engine coolants are used to keep the engine
from overheating, but they also need to protect
against fluid freezing and corrosion. This includes
ensuring the correct mixture of antifreeze and
water. Typically, a 50/50 mixture is efficient
for most of the U.S. to protect the system to -34
degrees F, but in severely cold areas such as Alaska
or Canada, a 60/40 mixture may be needed.
Obtaining the correct freeze protection is very
important for fleets, says Stede Granger, OEM
technical services manager at Shell Lubricants,

August 2020 | VehicleServicePros.com

13


http://www.VehicleServicePros.com

Fleet Maintenance

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Fleet Maintenance

Uptime: Wireless Data and the Future of Right to Repair
Editor's Note: Information Overload
Vehicles: Considerations for Winterizing Vehicles
In The Bay: Repair Information Resources to Help Drive Technician Productivity
Shop Operations: Extensive Service Networks to Improve Vehicle Uptime
Keeping Up with EGR Systems
The Lowdown on Grease
Management: Guard Against Mental Fallacies
Diagnostics: Scope Diagnostics Brings Heavy Duty Electrical Issues Into Focus
Training: ASE Entry-Level Certification
Fleet Parts & Components
Tools & Equipment
Classifieds
Guest Editorial: Considerations When Upgrading Vehicles to Steerable Lift Axles
Fleet Maintenance - 1
Fleet Maintenance - 2
Fleet Maintenance - 3
Fleet Maintenance - 4
Fleet Maintenance - 5
Fleet Maintenance - 6
Fleet Maintenance - 7
Fleet Maintenance - Uptime: Wireless Data and the Future of Right to Repair
Fleet Maintenance - 9
Fleet Maintenance - Editor's Note: Information Overload
Fleet Maintenance - 11
Fleet Maintenance - Vehicles: Considerations for Winterizing Vehicles
Fleet Maintenance - 13
Fleet Maintenance - 14
Fleet Maintenance - 15
Fleet Maintenance - 16
Fleet Maintenance - 17
Fleet Maintenance - In The Bay: Repair Information Resources to Help Drive Technician Productivity
Fleet Maintenance - 19
Fleet Maintenance - 20
Fleet Maintenance - 21
Fleet Maintenance - 22
Fleet Maintenance - 23
Fleet Maintenance - Shop Operations: Extensive Service Networks to Improve Vehicle Uptime
Fleet Maintenance - 25
Fleet Maintenance - 26
Fleet Maintenance - 27
Fleet Maintenance - Keeping Up with EGR Systems
Fleet Maintenance - 29
Fleet Maintenance - The Lowdown on Grease
Fleet Maintenance - 31
Fleet Maintenance - Management: Guard Against Mental Fallacies
Fleet Maintenance - 33
Fleet Maintenance - Diagnostics: Scope Diagnostics Brings Heavy Duty Electrical Issues Into Focus
Fleet Maintenance - 35
Fleet Maintenance - Training: ASE Entry-Level Certification
Fleet Maintenance - 37
Fleet Maintenance - Fleet Parts & Components
Fleet Maintenance - 39
Fleet Maintenance - 40
Fleet Maintenance - Tools & Equipment
Fleet Maintenance - 42
Fleet Maintenance - 43
Fleet Maintenance - 44
Fleet Maintenance - Classifieds
Fleet Maintenance - Guest Editorial: Considerations When Upgrading Vehicles to Steerable Lift Axles
Fleet Maintenance - 47
Fleet Maintenance - 48
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