Publisher's Page: No Time To Be High Maintenance

Maintenance tends to be a rather routine topic we tackle each year, but this month it takes on renewed urgency as operators tighten belts and the economy struggles to fire up again.

With that in mind and considering today’s uncertainties, I need to talk to you about what I call maintaining to the max. That definitely does not mean spending the most money, but instead getting the most value out of your staff, services, and as our cover story by Philip Jagiela shows, yourself. Although you’re recouping some of your fuel costs directly from clients via surcharges, you should still be focusing on running your vehicles as efficiently as possible and cutting excess wherever you can. Smooth running engines and responsible chauffeurs can not only cut your fuel costs but minimize the frequency of repairs.

In researching this, I found several quick, simple, and inexpensive things that you can do to save on gas and engine wear and tear.

Ways to Drive and Save

  • Chauffeurs should eliminate “jackrabbit starts.” Accelerate slowly when starting from a dead stop. • Traveling under 55 mph produces up to 21% better mileage when compared to 65 to 70 mph.
  • Maintain momentum everywhere possible. The less inertia your vehicle has to overcome, the less fuel it will use.
  • Think ahead when approaching hills. If drivers must accelerate, train them to do it gently before reaching the hill, not while on it.
  • Chauffeurs should avoid prolonged warming up of engines, even on cold mornings — 30 to 45 seconds is plenty of time.
  • Don’t start and stop engines needlessly. Idling your engine for one minute consumes the same amount of gas as when you start the engine.
  • Stoplights are usually timed for your motoring advantage. By traveling steadily at the legal speed limit, you boost your chances of having the “green light” all the way.
  • Regular tune-ups ensure the best fuel economy; special attention should be given to maintaining clean air filters and proper tire pressures.
  • Inflate all tires to the manufacturer’s recommendations for the vehicle; rolling resistance created by low tire pressure can reduce mileage as much as 25%.
  • Running your vehicle’s air conditioner can reduce fuel economy by 10% to 20%, so discourage your chauffeurs from idling when clients are not in the vehicle, whenever possible.

Maintenance That Will Save

  • If you haven’t already, change to synthetic motor oil. It reduces engine friction and can improve gas mileage.
  • Adding fuel-injector cleaner at every oil change will keep injector nozzles clean, and spraying properly, which will create better combustion and deliver maximum power.
  • After filling up, be sure the gas cap clicks three times. Improperly seated gas caps allow 147 million gallons of fuel to vaporize every year in the U.S.
  • Consider a locking gas cap, but be sure it meets/exceeds your vehicle manufacturer specifications.
  • Buy gasoline during the coolest time of day — early morning or late evening is best. During these times gasoline is densest. Keep in mind that gas pumps measure volumes of gasoline, not densities of fuel concentration. You are charged according to volume of measurement.

With summer in full swing and August being a traditionally slow month in this business, I suggest you take the time to retrain your team on the importance of vehicle care and longevity, include them in your new fuel/money saving game plan, and look for ways you can troubleshoot and make repairs on your time and dime.

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