Summer Driving Tips | Preparing Your Fleet for the Heat
In winter—especially here in New York – it’s easy to see how extreme weather conditions can affect your Freightliner truck’s performance. And your ability to drive safely. But summer brings its own set of challenges. They may be more subtle in some ways, but they can make your life difficult, whether you’re managing an entire fleet of Freightliners or a single owner-operated rig.
Chances are good you’ll be putting a lot more miles on your truck this summer than you do in the winter. It’s an opportunity to earn more revenue – but only if you can keep your truck rolling along safely and smoothly. Whether you never leave the state, or your road trips take you across the country from coast to coast, you’re likely to run into high temperatures, heavy rain storms, and slick road conditions.
But drivers and trucks can confidently take it all in stride, if you’re properly prepared. There are three ways you can take maximum advantage of this summer’s opportunities.
- Ensure your fleet is prepared for the heat
Basic maintenance is always a must, but if you’re driving more and driving farther, preventing problems is even more critical. That daily walk-around inspection? Don’t skip a day, and don’t short-change safety checks. Do these five things:
- Check fluid levels and top off any that are getting low. That includes oil, coolant, and fluids for the transmission, power steering, and brakes. If you see a leak, don’t wait for it to get worse – take the truck to your shop or Freightliner dealer.
- Check your tire pressure, and adjust it if needed. Even a little deflation can wreak havoc on your fuel mileage and tire wear. And speaking of wear, keep an eye on that, too. Tires wear faster when it’s hot.
- Check to be sure air conditioning is functioning properly, before every trip. If not, get it fixed right away. An uncomfortably hot cab is not safe, because it is distracting and fatiguing.
- Inspect your windshield wiper blades, because winter damage may warrant a new set. You’ll need them to keep your windshield free of summer dust and grime and to see through the occasional rainfall.
- If your Freightliner has a reefer unit, make sure it’s working properly – your load will need it now more than ever.
- Remind drivers about summer on-the-road safety
- Always reduce speed when roads are wet, to improve traction and prevent hydroplaning. Remember, roadways are extra-slippery in summer, when it rains after a long dry, hot spell.
- Give other drivers even more space than usual. Traffic is heavier in summer, and vacationing motorists are distracted.
- Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, and take frequent breaks. Both will help you stay alert.
- Be extra vigilant in construction zones and areas where there are lots of tourists.
Invest in good quality sunglasses to protect your vision and avoid eyestrain.
- Keep preventive maintenance on schedule
Putting on extra miles during the summer is good for your bottom line, and you want to earn as much revenue as you can. But don’t let that tempt you into neglecting the regular service your truck requires. If you don’t keep up with oil changes, battery checks, tune-ups, rotating your tires, etc. you are simply inviting breakdowns. Then you’ll have downtime for sure, and it will probably come at the worst possible time. Instead, keep on rolling along with preventive maintenance, and keep this tips in mind, too:
- Periodically inspect anything that is illuminated – lift gate activators, interior box lights, etc. – to be sure they’re working properly. If they’re on when they should be off, they can drain your truck’s battery.
- If your engine overheats, do not remove the radiator cap. Look at the fluid level in the coolant overflow tank – if it’s low, call the shop for assistance.
Following these summer driving tips will help you and your Freightliner have a safe, productive season.