THE first signs of winter are upon us, so supermarket fuel card provider, fuelGenie, is advising company vehicle owners to perform simple checks on their cars and vans to ensure drivers are safe on the roads.
Over 180,000 car accidents* were caused in the UK last year due to driving in adverse weather conditions such as fog, snow and rain.
Regular maintenance of company cars and vans can ensure that drivers are kept safe and companies can keep vehicles on the road.
fuelGenie has compiled the following checks for your vehicles:
One of the first things to check on company vehicles are the tyres.
Consider changing to winter tyres on the company fleet in order to gain traction and grip on slippery road surfaces.
Although the legal limit is 1.6mm the recommendation for tyre tread during winter is 3mm, as once it gets below this point the stopping distance in an emergency increases dramatically.
Loose gravel, road salt and potholes can take their toll on tyres throughout the colder months.
However, by taking preventative measures such as checking tread and pressure every few weeks you can help minimise potential vehicle downtime.
A common problem often ignored is ensuring the cooling system is topped up with anti-freeze.
GreenFlag responded to almost 15,000 breakdowns** relating to cooling systems last winter alone.
Some screen wash also now comes with anti-freeze properties as an easy way to keep on top of the problem.
Overloading can be especially dangerous to business van drivers taking to the road in the winter as an increased load puts extra pressure on the vehicle. Also loads that are not secured safely can shift.
weight during the journey, which can cause a vehicle to over steer and lose control, especially in icy conditions.
Check the vehicle’s Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) in the manufacturer’s handbook to avoid over loading vehicles in the company fleet. GVW includes vehicle weight and the load and when exceeded can put a strain on springs, wheel bearings, suspension and braking.
If your company doesn’t have a weigh bridge, you can drive to a public weighbridge if you are concerned about a vehicle’s load, get in touch with your local council for nearby locations.
Cold weather can have a debilitating effect on batteries and their overall performance. If the battery in a company vehicle is not fully charged, or has been adversely affected by the cold, there is an increased chance of not starting.
A regular overnight trickle charge can be useful to give the battery a chance to revive when the vehicle is not in use for a length of time.
Make sure that the correct oil type for your vehicle is used during winter. It’s an easy choice to pick up any kind of oil at the forecourt but by checking the manufacturer’s recommendation in your vehicle handbook you can get the best oil to suit the performance of your vehicle.
It’s also worth considering that many vehicles need thinner oil this time of year because thick oil does not flow as freely in the cold as it does in warm weather. So the next time you need to top up the oil levels it’s worth considering spending an extra couple of pounds to save you money in the long run.
Emergency winter pack
It may seem an extra hassle but making sure each company vehicle has its own emergency winter pack can provide much needed comfort and relief to your drivers if a vehicle breaks down. This ensures that if a vehicle breaks down or becomes snowed in drivers are comfortable and able to access essentials such as a warm blanket, torch, bottled water and snacks.
Companies have a duty of care to provide safe vehicles for staff, and this can be even more important in the winter months when weather conditions have more of an impact on a vehicle’s performance. If a company vehicle is involved in an accident then the company could be held liable if the vehicle had not been properly maintained.