Take Advantage of Your Slow Season to Prepare for Winter

Part 1: Prepare and Maintain Your Fleet of Vehicles

For many HVAC businesses across the country fall can be the slowest season of the year. It is usually a good time to get caught up from the chaos of summer, take a moment to assess the current state of the business, re-stock inventory and start planning for a busy winter.

During these few months when homeowners aren’t typically thinking about their heating or air conditioning system and business slows a bit the HVAC business owners who capitalize on this down time by putting together a game plan for the Winter months will almost always come out ahead.

In this four part series we take a detailed look into four different topics that HVAC companies should closely consider as you get ready for the winter. This week we begin by looking at preparing and maintaining your fleet of vehicles.

Prepare Your Fleet

Frigid temperatures and harsh winter conditions are hard on any vehicle, especially fleet vehicles that are on the road for 10 to 12 hours a day. Performing routine maintenance will help you avoid emergency repairs and costly downtime during the coldest months of the year.

Before snow falls and temperatures drop, it is a good idea to prepare your vehicles for the season by taking a few simple steps.

Perform proactive maintenance: Cold weather can wreak havoc on wearable components. Proactive maintenance such as replacing worn belts, hoses and brake pads can save you from expensive repairs down the road. Test the battery and clean the connections. Don’t forget to check glow plug operation on diesel models.

Check your fluids: All engine oils are not created equal, and running the wrong oil in the winter can cause unnecessary engine wear. Heavier oils might be too viscous to achieve effective lubrication at low temperatures. For easier cold cranking and startup, switch to a full-synthetic oil with a lower cold temperature viscosity formulated to operate in a wide range of temperatures. Refer to your owner’s manual for manufacturer cold-weather viscosity recommendations. Also, don’t forget to check and top off coolant, power steering, brake and windshield washer fluids.

Clean and inspect the exterior: The best way to protect the exterior of vehicles from snow, ice and salt is with a thorough cleaning and a coat of wax before winter conditions set in. Wash the cab, body and undercarriage regularly to remove corrosive salts and deicers to prevent body damage.

Don’t forget your employees: During winter months, you want your team to be safe and warm in the cab. Check heater and defroster operation, and equip every vehicle with an emergency kit containing water, road flares, a fire extinguisher, reflective triangles, a solar blanket, jumper cables, etc.

Winter can be a major challenge for your fleet of work trucks and your drivers, but taking small steps to prepare for cold weather will keep your fleet vehicles running smoothly all winter long.

Please check back next week for the next article in this series “Repair or Replace: Assessing the Condition of Your Tools and Equipment”.

Centratel is an elite national telephone answering service located in Bend, Oregon. Centratel’s HVAC Answering Service assists hundreds of heating, ventilation and air conditioning businesses during and after-hours, throughout the United States and is, by a variety of statistics, the highest quality answering service available among the approximately 1,500 services nationwide.

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