As summer approaches, it’s time to plan vacations, take time off from work, and look forward to lazy weekends spent relaxing with family and friends. However, as an operator, now is the time for you to to plan ahead for those parched summer days and the toll they will take on your fleet. Do some pre-planning, and by the time summer arrives your vehicles will be prepared to meet any challenge.
Inspect Cooling Systems
As air conditioners are used more in the summer months, there is more of a continuous demand on the cooling system. David Knecht, director of maintenance for Greene Classic Limousine in Atlanta, advises checking all components of the cooling system before the arrival of summer. “The summer heat is going to put a strain on the cooling system, so it should be checked for any leaks, then flushed and refilled with the proper mix of anti-freeze,” Knecht says. He adds that it’s always a good idea to check all the hoses and belts, as they do not usually fail suddenly, but deteriorate slowly over time. Make sure the air conditioning and cooling fans are functioning properly. “One of the most important items to check is the cooling fan in the engine compartment,” Knecht says. “If it’s not working properly, then the air conditioner cannot cool efficiently.” The cooling fan works by drawing air through the condenser and then cooling it. If the fan cannot draw enough air through, then the air conditioner will not sufficiently cool the interior compartment. This is typically a problem when the vehicle is idling for any amount of time. “Also, make sure that nothing is blocking the condensor or radiator,” Knecht advises.
Check Battery Output
“The charging system needs to be checked for proper charging output,” Knecht says. He adds that with the added summer heat, the system is put under an even greater strain, which can cause the failing of key components. Check the battery and cables, along with the alternator, to make sure that everything is in good working order. “A lot of vehicles are using duel charging systems,” says Kit Dickman, owner of L.A. Limousine Service, in Hawthorne, Calif. “The belt for the secondary alternator should be checked — we find them all the time when they’re ready to break.” Dickman adds that the second battery — the battery running the back of the vehicle — is typically smaller in capacity than the main battery, and it’s critical to make certain that the connections are working. “You can’t see this battery because typically it’s hidden, so nobody does anything until all of a sudden there’s no power in the back of the car,” Dickman says. He advises to check both batteries and make sure this is done by someone who understands how both batteries work.
Monitor Tire Conditions
Knecht stresses to carefully monitoring tire pressure in the summer months, and always to check the tires when they’re cold. “You should increase the pressure by a couple of pounds during the hot season,” Knecht advises. Dickman adds that if a tire is underinflated, the hot, summer roads can contribute to blowouts and increased loss of tread. “Less tire pressure will cause the tires to run hotter, and the heat is what will make the treads fly off and increase the risk of blowouts,” Dickman says. Monitor the tread on your tires, as less tread increases the chance of a blowout.