Unfortunately, for many operators out there the COVID-19 lock down has forced vehicles off the road, or reduced their usage considerably, with no clear picture of when normal service can be resumed.
And as any fleet operator or driver will tell you, leaving a vehicle dormant for an extended period is not an ideal scenario, however, the implications can often be forgotten when it comes to firing up the engine again.
So, what are the key things fleet operators need to consider when it’s time to get vehicles back on the road again and avoid those unwanted breakdowns or issues that keep vehicles in the garage?
Not to be confused with BLT, which is a favourite lunch for many a driver out there. BBT stands for Battery, Brakes and Tyres.
Batteries don’t like not being used and will often be the primary cause of a breakdown. Even batteries in newer vehicles can last a couple of weeks without being engaged before they risk going flat. So even if vehicles are decommissioned during the lock down it’s important to fire up the engine for 15-20 minutes every week, or every other week as an absolute minimum. For operators running electric or hybrid vehicles, it’s even more important to ensure the batteries are charged to a minimum 50% and the vehicle fired up for 10 minutes every week, otherwise leaving them drained of battery can cause irreparable damage and a big garage bill.
Just like batteries, brakes can also cause issues and seize up completely if left unengaged for lengthy periods. If lock down issues are still preventing the vehicle from being utilised, it’s good practice to engage the breaks when giving the battery it’s 15 minutes of power every week, rolling the vehicle back and forth to ensure the right amount of force and movement is placed on the brakes – it doesn’t need big distances or speeds to keep them working efficiently.
During lock down there will obviously be no impact on tyre tread, but tyre pressure can certainly be affected. Low pressure can impact steering, which can lead to accidents and time off the road, and it can also cause stress to tyre sidewalls which could lead to them bursting while in use. Having a mobile tyre pressure pump will avoid all these scenarios.
Vehicles intended for an extended period off the road should be topped up with fuel. This will help with ensuring weekly engine start-ups can happen effectively, but it will reduce the chances of condensation collecting in the tank, which can cause issues with the engines and fuel lines.
Time Behind the Wheel & Driver Behaviour
For someone who spends most of their day behind the wheel, to be away from that environment for a long period of time will undoubtedly have an impact. Operators need to be extremely conscious of driver behaviour on the road when vehicles are utilised again as poor driving can also lead to vehicle issues, breakdowns and downtime. Incidences of speeding and harsh breaking or cornering can all put unnecessary strain on a vehicle, even more so one that’s been sat dormant, leading to problems with the brakes and tyres.
Fortunately, the latest telematics and fleet tracking software can provide all the real-time data fleet operators need to ensure their drivers can be kept in check and driving behaviour analysed to protect their assets from unnecessary damage.
Regardless of whether a vehicle has been out of use for some time, fleet operators should be partaking in proactive safety checks covering not only the above, but many additional factors as well.
Making this a normal part of operations will ensure that vehicles are maintained effectively, breakdowns avoided, and vehicles stay on the road, but also mean fleets remain compliant with the latest legislation. To help fleet operators keep on top of their compliance, we’ve created a handy checklist which you can download from here.