• It doesn't seem that long ago when fleet managers were emphasizing the importance of preventing gelled fuel during the winter months. But summer is already on its way and fleets will soon switch their focus to preventing the season's biggest threat to their operation: overheated engines. Fortunately, as long as fleet managers and drivers closely obey a predetermined maintenance schedule, truck engines can survive the summer heat just fine. Below are three essential maintenance focus points fleets cannot afford to neglect this summer.

    The first step to preventing breakdowns induced by overheating is through routine maintenance of the fleet. The regrowth of life in spring and the dry months of summer generally lead to an exorbitant level of particulates in the air that can cause engine lubricants to become a sludgy abrasive. As small particles get through the oil and fuel filters, the oil itself begins to take on a stickier, thicker consistency that negates the primary reason for utilizing petroleum based oil as an engine lubricant. This dirty oil progressively wears down piston heads and all other enclosed, moving parts of an engine. Regular oil changes throughout a summer will reduce extraneous heat from building in the engine block caused by tainted oil.

    With oil changes occurring on a regular schedule, the next step to assuring a fleet is summer fit is through filter changes. There are three filters that are crucial to a strong diesel engine: Air Filter, Oil Filter, and Fuel Filter. It is generally accepted practice to change the air filter every other oil change. However, depending on air quality of fleet location this interval should be increased or decreased. The oil filter prevents many of the larger airborne particles from entering the enclosed engine environment so that the lubricant has a longer lifespan; these should be changed at every oil change, a more frequent changing of these will extend the necessary time between summer oil changes. The fuel filter for diesel engines is often overlooked, but with some of the low quality diesels that are being refined at higher temperatures, the filters are getting blocked at a much faster rate than in decades past. This is an issue because it limits the flow of fuel to the injectors which will push air into the fuel system; one of the most damaging things that can occur to a diesel fleet.

    The final step that is absolutely the most important for summer fleet care is making sure the cooling system is in ideal working order. With a reliance on high temperature combustion provided by extreme air compression, a diesel engine operates at a higher temperature than its internal combustion counterpart. Due to this characteristic in conjunction with the warmer ambient air temperature, the cooling system of a diesel motor is pertinent to prevent a breakdown during the busiest season for a fleet manager. Don’t make this fleet manager mistake and overlook cooling system maintenance.

    Overall Summer Fleet Care Focus Points:

     

    ~  Oil Changes

    ~  Filter Replacement

    ~  Cooling system maintenance

    As the thermometer rises, Fleet managers need to be aware of the inherent risks that this new season presents to their vehicles. Managers need to be in constant contact with the Fleet drivers in regards to necessary on-road vehicle maintenance. A good fleet management service can help with this coordination. With the proper care, fleets will be cruising around the country this summer in top-notch condition.

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  • Scores of travelers depend on their vehicles to reach their summertime destinations, and many drivers have had to accept annual jumps in gas prices when budgeting for road trips. While paying more money at the pump may not be avoidable, we can better understand WHY we’re paying more during the summer season.

    One established factor in the summer season is the economic concept of supply and demand. As more people fill cars, boats, motorcycles, and jet skis with gasoline, the demand for fuel increases. This places a higher premium on shrinking supplies, thus raising gas prices.

    But there are other less-apparent factors that influence annual price bumps. Among those include:

    ~  Refineries shutting down during spring months for maintenance

    ~  Natural disruptions, such as hurricanes, impacting transport and damage refineries

    ~  Fuel grades purchased in summer months are different from grades purchased during the rest of the year

    Perhaps the greatest factor that influences rising gas prices in the summer months involves a change in fuel supply, known as the seasonal gasoline transition, which occurs twice every year in the U.S. This seasonal switch is part of the Reformulated Gasoline Program (RFG), which was established from the Clean Air Act Amendments, aimed at reducing pollution and smog during the summer season.

    Most consumers don’t notice a difference, outside of higher fuel costs, but the summer-grade fuel they purchase actually has altered ingredients. This fuel contains different oxygenates (fuel additives) to give it a higher Reid Vapor Pressure, which allows evaporation to occur more easily than with winter-grade fuel. The result is a fuel that burns cleanlier, thus compensating for a limited oil supply, and emits fewer pollutants. This is an important consideration at a time of year when increased temperatures boost the formation of the ozone layer, and pollution becomes a greater focus of concern. Winter-grade fuel uses more butane, which is inexpensive and plentiful, and brings fuel prices back down during the rest of the year.

    Paying a premium at the pump has become a summertime tradition, much like barbequing or going to the beach, but no matter the fuel management strategy, consumers can appreciate knowing the fuel they purchase is better for the environment. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency reports that, "roughly 75 million Americans breath cleaner air today due to [the seasonal fuel] program.”



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