Driving practices that reduce vehicle wear and tear


Driving practices that reduce vehicle wear and tear

Source: FleetAnswers and Lori W Operating a fleet as efficiently as possible can be made easier when wear and tear on vehicles are minimized. While regular care and maintenance contributes to a vehicle's longevity, certain driving habits can have an impact as well.

That's important to the life of your fleet because longevity of vehicles can be just as important as fuel economy when it comes to overall fleet efficiency and operating costs. Replacing vehicles earlier than anticipated due to lack of care and poor driving habits can greatly add to costs over the long term. Below are a few practices fleet managers may want to ensure drivers put into place to do just that:

Avoid Short Runs

Short distances are a given for some fleets but they are also very hard on an engine. If you have drivers taking very short trips, consider re-mapping and combining routes to avoid the problem. Short distances are tough on vehicles because the engine oil never quire reaches temperatures high enough to boil off the moisture inside, leaving the oil at risk of gumming up like tar. If short runs can't be avoided due to the nature of your fleet's business, be sure oil is changed according to the "severe usage" schedule, which can be found in vehicle owner's manuals. 

Use Parking Brake to Advantage

Instruct drivers to use parking brakes on hills, but save wear and tear on vehicle transmissions by placing the parking brake while the vehicle is still in drive and the brake pedal is applied, before placing the vehicle into park. This allows the vehicle's parking brake to shoulder the vehicle's weight, as intended, and not the transmission. Moving into gear and applying the brake pedal before releasing the brake is also recommended.

Take it Easy on the Pedal

Some drivers have a tendency to ride their vehicle brake pedals needlessly. This causes unnecessary wear to vehicle braking systems, requiring early maintenance and replacement. Most drivers are unaware of this bad habit. Fleet managers may want to consider following drivers and making short videos from behind to show brake lights on. Seeing is believing, and the demonstration may aid in reducing this bad habit.

Reduce Stop and Start Driving

Although in some cases, businesses like delivery may dictate stop and start driving can't be avoided, it's important to be aware that just like short runs, frequent stops and starts will wear out an engine much faster than normal driving. Drivers should follow routes that avoid stop and start driving whenever possible. Also, adjust care and maintenance to address added wear. 

Warm Up

There is a happy medium when it comes to warming up a vehicle before heading out on the job. Idling too long serves no purpose and is a waste of fuel. On the other hand, if drivers hop in and immediately take off, the vehicle's fluids don't even get a chance to start running through the system before the vehicle is driven. Most experts suggest a short warm up of about 30 to 45 seconds as optimal, though longer in cold weather months. Recommend drivers avoid higher RPMs and highway speeds until the vehicle is running at normal operating temperature. Not doing so leaves vehicles susceptible to engine and transmission damage, among other risks.  

Avoid Collisions

It goes without saying that avoiding collisions is important in reducing wear and tear on fleet vehicles. Ensure drivers follow good driving habits, particularly if they are likely to encounter harsh road conditions. Remind them to use low beams in heavy fog and reduce speed. If you operate where winter brings snow and ice, remind drivers to use gradual, not jerky, motions to steer, accelerate and brake as a best practice for maintaining vehicle control. Be especially mindful of following too close behind other vehicles and use extra caution on bridges.