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The Essential CHELA Winterisation Guide for Fleet Managers

A winter road scene with snow settled by the roadside

Welcome to our essential winterisation guide for fleet managers!

Winter causes a whole host of issues for fleet managers. Rain, ice, slush, snow, not to mention the de-icing salts spread on the roads, and even increased staff illness, all seem to conspire to make our jobs that little bit harder.

But approached in the right way, the worst effects of winter can be avoided with good preparation and planning. Plus, like any job, it becomes much easier with the right tools at hand.

Having the right cleaning and maintenance supplies on site will reduce vehicle wear and tear, keep your staff healthy, and mean fewer lost working hours to the cold weather.

We all need to ensure that we have powerful de-icers to keep windows and depot surfaces clear, as well as strong cleaning chemicals for both the interior and exterior of our vehicles.

However, the wrong sort of chemicals can actually damage your fleet vehicles and even shorted their life-span. So, it pays to know your chemical products and make sure you use the right ones.

As winter approaches there is no better time to audit and restock your winter supplies, as you perform your winter checks and prepare your maintenance schedule.

To help you sense check your supplies and make sure you have the right tools for the job, we’ve complied a full list of products and processes for each stage of your winterisation checks.

Serious winter cleaning for working vehicles

Whether you manage a fleet of buses, coaches, trucks or vans, your vehicles are being pummeled by temperature fluctuations, corrosive de-icing road salts and wet, muddy roads.

Beware build-ups of grime and dirt as these can hide damaged parts which could, over time, become serious and expensive problems if left untreated.

There are many products on the market, but the key is to look for ones that have been designed to work with heavy use vehicles.

Here are some of the products we design specifically for fleet vehicles:

TRANSCLEAN®AUTOWASH 669

A high-performance concentrated bus and vehicle cleaner designed specifically for use through automatic brush washes, pressure washers.

CONSOL LPH 686

Highly dilatable and effective hard surface cleaner and degreaser for removing tough grime, hydrocarbon and food oils and greases.

General Vehicle Maintenance

Anti-freeze

Water vapor can collect in the bottom of a petrol tank and, in cold weather, when drawn into your engine’s fuel line, it can freeze. This will stop your engines from starting.

The solution to this is to keep tanks at least half full during freezing conditions and make sure the vehicles are topped up with a high-quality industrial strength anti-freeze.

Look for a glycol-based engine coolant as these will work in all engines, including those constructed from aluminium alloys.

Anti-freeze Concentrate 808 is our ready-to-use and glycol-based. It uses sophisticated silicate stabilisation technology to eliminate the formation of silicate gel, which is often observed with other products and can damage your vehicle.

Oil

As the temperature drops, make sure you are using the right viscosity of engine oil. Even oil with a viscosity of 10W-30 may be too thick in some vehicles!

Fluids

Top up all your vehicles fluids before the winter months hit. Everything including antifreeze, engine coolants, brake fluid, and windshield washer etc.

Batteries

Cold weather can take its toll on batteries. If the batteries in any of your vehicles are over 3 years old it might be worth considering replacing them. Also, remember to keep the contacts free of corrosion with a battery post and terminal cleaner.

Wipers and de-icers

Keeping windows and mirrors clear and free of ice, as well as surfaces in the depots is incredibly important for maintaining a safe work environment.

There are many on the market, we even produce de-icing products used by the US Air Force, so if you are looking for something reliable enough to keep a global super-power on the move, take a look at these:

CHELA DE-ICERS

Clearway 6s (melts ice by depressing the freezing point of water, and will be
active at temperatures down to – 15oC).

De-Icer Spray

Tyres

Tyre pressure drops in cold weather, on top of this, in snowy or icy conditions you want to ensure all tyres have adequate tread depth left to ensure they maintain traction on treacherous roads. You may even consider outfitting your vehicles with winter tyres.

Lights

Winter days are shorter, and they often come with low visibility conditions like fog, rain or snow. Make sure all lights are working adequately.

Winterising the working environment

When it comes to fleet maintenance, it isn’t just about elongating the life of the vehicles. Wet weather causes the interior of vehicles to become dirtier than they would be in the warmer months.

Remember, anyone using the vehicle will bring the outside conditions into the vehicle with them. Corrosive road salts, ice, grime and dirt all find their way inside and start damaging the vehicle from the inside.

This leads to costly repairs down the line, but it also turns interiors into a harbour for bacteria and dangerous germs.

We have a selection of chemicals specifically designed to keep your driver interiors healthy, happy places:

DEEP FRESH 1801

Cleans and Freshens the Interiors Buses and Coaches. A Powerful and pleasantly perfumed general cleaner and degrease developed specifically for difficult to remove stains.

MARATHON®SHINE 414

Metallised emulsion floor polish that produces excellent durability and gloss. For use on non-porous synthetic surfaces, PVC and rubber floors.

Winterise in the Depot

The final point in our article is about the importance of winterising the depot. Whilst a spotless depot should be, first and foremost a matter of pride, it can be a challenge to keep it that way for long, especially in winter.

Much like dirtying the interior of the vehicles, snow, mud, and de-icing salts can all be tracked into the depot by both vehicles and boots. Having a winter cleaning program will help stop build-ups of dirt and grime which could lead to more costly damage in the long run.

Depot Winterisation products

POWERPLUS HD 889

Highly dilutable and effective hard surface cleaner and degreaser. Removes heavy grime, hydrocarbon and food oils and greases.

SUPER CONSOL 861

Super Consol is a highly dilutable and effective hard surface cleaner and degreaser.

LOOSOL 202

Fast acting, biodegradable duo-acid, that quickly dissolves scale. It will quickly and efficiently remove unsightly, unhygienic, odour-producing scale from a variety of surfaces including toilets, urinals, wash basins, lavatory and washroom floors.

Conclusion

Proper preparation with the right chemical cleaning agents will help prevent major and costly mechanical issues and ensure the safety of your drivers, members of the public, and other road users.

However, more than this, during the more extreme month’s vehicles exteriors and interiors are exposed to more wear, tear and dirt than normal.

You need to not only clean the vehicles carefully and diligently but take the time to source and use better quality and more advanced cleaning systems.

If you do this, you can elongate a vehicles life, prevent costly breakdowns, and improve health and safety standards along with your employee’s experiences.

When it comes to Winterisation tactics, good products and processes are the foundation of better efficiency and more productivity.

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We hope you have found our essential winterisation guide for fleet managers useful. If you have any questions about any of these issues, contact a member of our team and we will be happy to help you protect your fleet this winter.