Fleet Management 101: Preparing fleets for winter, part 1


Fleet Management 101: Preparing fleets for winter, part 1

Source: FleetAnswers and Cheryl B Auto Fleet Maintenance Guidelines for Winter Tire Safety: When an auto fleet management team sets up maintenance guidelines, it should also include guidelines for tires. In some places, all-season tires are fine year-round, but in other places, the fleet vehicles should have winter tires. According to a press release, research shows that once temperatures drop below 44.6 Fahrenheit or 7 degrees Celsius, winter tires perform better regardless of road surface. Winter tires feature specialized rubber compounds that retain elasticity in temperatures below -22 Fahrenheit or -30 degree Celsius as well as treads that grips at cold temperatures. Winter tires also deliver up to 50% more cold-weather traction than all-season tires.  

The same article also stresses that one of the most important advantages of winter tires is reduced stopping distance when braking. According to research from the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, at temperatures just below freezing on dry pavement, the stopping distance for vehicles with all-season tires can be as much as 30% longer than for vehicles with winter tires. The improved road-holding granted by winter tires will improve acceleration, cornering and breaking, eventually helping fleet drivers keep fuel consumption low, as stated in another article

In an article by FleetNews, not only do winter tires reduce the risk of accidental damage in high-speed incidents but also in more common driving incidents such as driver scraping or denting vehicle as a result of losing traction while maneuvering in a parking lot. 

A checklist for winter preparation would help fleet managers determine whether it is beneficial to install winter tires for your fleet:

  • What is the typical snowfall for the year?
  • What is the typical temperature range for the year?
  • Are the meteorologists predicting a hard winter?
  • Do your fleet drivers often drive on back roads that are not necessarily plowed right away?
  • Do your fleet drivers use their vehicles daily regardless of weather or road conditions?
  • Do your fleet drivers use routes on gravel roads or on private roads that are not cleared by the city or county?
  • What time of the day do fleet drivers normally drive their vehicles in winter?

If the winter is being predicted as a tough winter with a lot of snow or if the area sees snow earlier in the season than normal, the fleet manager may want to consider swapping to winter tires. If the area is not getting a lot of snow early in the season and the predictions are for mild winter temperatures with little snow, a fleet manager can save money by keeping all-season tires on its fleet vehicles. 

If the maintenance team is going to use the tires from the previous season, it is important to check the tread wear and check for dry rot on the sidewalls and treads. If the tires sat for the spring through autumn seasons, it is possible that they could have dry rot, depending on where they were stored. If the maintenance team sees signs of dry rot, it is less expensive to put new winter tires on the fleet vehicles. Not only does the fleet management team save on labor costs to change the tires within the next month or two, but it is also the safer option for fleet drivers.