Winter and the festive season can be a demanding time for fleet drivers and couriers. Not only is this year seeing the largest demand for online shopping than ever before, but there’s also more traffic on the roads with seasonal shoppers just out of lockdown, increasingly poorer weather conditions and the added pressure of delivering on time to keep clients and customers satisfied.
Added to that, your fleet will be on the road for longer hours with the knowledge that breakdowns are more prevalent during November and December than any other time of the year. To safeguard your business, it’s important to do regular vehicle inspections and ensure drivers make pre-travel preparations.
Here at Tradex our top priority is to make certain you have the correct motor trade insurance or fleet insurance in place for all eventualities the winter might bring. But there is also plenty you can do to avoid having to make a claim or calling out breakdown and recovery.
Before leaving home or your depot, make sure windows are clean from ice, snow or other debris. Keep de-icer or a scraper handy and remember to do all window panels, mirrors and plates. Add 50 percent concentration of a good anti-freeze screen wash to your windscreen washer tank to prevent it from freezing on your window and causing a visibility hazard or becoming frozen and not working.
Check your engine coolant level regularly and top up with the correct type of anti-freeze. This will help to prevent the water in the coolant freezing and the risk of your engine overheating. As traffic delays are more likely in the winter months, always make sure you have at least a quarter of a tank of fuel.
The RAC attends over 400,000 battery related faults every winter as the colder weather weakens older and tired batteries. The chillier months reduce a battery’s ability to hold its charge and wet and icy conditions can interfere with the electrics. If your battery is more than five year’s old, it’s time to get it replaced. Noticing the headlights dimming significantly when the engine speed reduces to an idle or your car is slow to crank up in the mornings, could be a sign your battery needs changing.
Tyres need at least a 3mm tread to tackle the winter weather but if you are driving long distances in snowy or icy conditions, it may be preferable to invest in winter tyres for added traction. Tyre pressure needs checking at least every fortnight (may be more frequently if you are a busy haulier or courier). An under-inflated tyre will wear more quickly and not have the same handling power on wet and wintery roads. Check your manual or the inside of the driver’s door for the correct level of pressure.
Windscreens get the full brunt of winter weather with snow and ice and extra dirt and debris. Keep windscreens clean inside and out to avoid a greasy film that can cause glare during winter sun. Replace worn out windscreen wiper blades and repair any chips or dinks as these are more prone to cracking further during frost and ice.
With shorter days and often foggy conditions, lights need checking regularly to make sure you have good vision and that others can see you. Lights can get dirty very quickly during the winter, so clean them frequently, particularly during wetter weather conditions.
Keeping your brakes in tip top condition is essential during any time of the year and that’s no truer than during the winter months when stopping distances are challenged with rain and icy conditions and busy roads can lead to increases in sudden braking. If you hear any squeaking or squealing or your brakes feel spongy, get them replaced.
The RAC reports that their patrols find one in three drivers are dangerously low on engine oil when they attend to their car problems. This can lead to a breakdown or severe engine damage. Inspect your oil regularly – your vehicle’s dipstick should show a level between the maximum and the minimum mark. Also, check out the oil viscosity levels for the climate in your vehicle owner’s manual. The colder it is outside, the thicker your oil becomes so you may need to shift to something thinner during the winter.
Always keep a winter emergency kit in your vehicle in case of emergencies. This should include a blanket or sleeping bag, shovel, ice scraper, de-icer, a torch and spare batteries, extra screen wash, snacks and a fully charged mobile.
Check Your Fleet Insurance
With accident more likely due to difficult driving conditions during the winter, make sure your motor trade insurance is up-to-date and that you are fully protected for all eventualities during this busy season. Drive safe.
If you run either a full-time vehicle assessor company from a business premises or a part-time motor engineer business from home, you will need a flexible motor trade insurance policy that can be tailored to suit your needs.