The vehicles in your fleet are not only a huge investment, but they also provide your livelihood and that of your employees. Each time a vehicle becomes inoperable, valuable income is obviously being lost. Smart fleet managers must be pro-active with all the mechanical systems in their vehicles, striving to prevent vehicle downtime before it happens. This is particularly true in our current economic situation when every hard earned dollar counts.
A large part of maintenance proactivity is keeping the vital fluids fresh and clean. Dirt, sludge and worn out lubricating fluids are the primary cause of engine, transmission and rear end failures in both gas and diesel powered vehicles.
If you have a small fleet you can have a professional shop perform the maintenance, but if you must maintain a large number of vehicles, it might be more cost effective to have your own fluid changing and flushing machines. As we all know, business tools are always a good investment that can be depreciated and written off as a necessary business expense. In the long term, it might be less expensive for you to own regularly used maintenance equipment than to pay a shop to do the work. Ed Justice, Jr., president and CEO of Justice Brothers, offers this opinion:
"Routine and regular preventative maintenance always pays off in the long run. The slight increase in cost more than pays for itself when keeping important company vehicles on the road and producing profits."
Such is the case here. High Point Distributing in Simi Valley, CA has a fleet of 30 delivery vans and trucks, which need regular maintenance. As the fleet grew, service manager Tim Huddleston realized that investing in fluid exchange machines would be less expensive in the long run, which has proven to be true. An in-house technician is responsible for recording mileage and making sure each vehicle receives the correct service when needed.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Prior to making a sizable investment in machinery do your homework. Find the tools that do exactly the kinds of maintenance you need and compare the costs of maintaining them. You want to do regular maintenance on your vehicles, not on the tools themselves. Inquire about warranties, spare parts, etc., prior to purchase. It's all part of the investment.
Another pro-active measure is to take advantage of proven additives that can be used during, and in between fluid flushes, or to solve minor problems like transmission or engine leaks. Fuel-injection system cleaners, internal engine cleaners, radiator cleaners, AC system cleaners, transmission cleaners, diesel fuel additives, heavy-duty use additives all play an important part in maintaining the health of your fleet. Royal Purple, Gumout, Justice Brothers, Prolong, Slick 50 and more, offer a wide variety of quality additives to help extend the life of your vehicle's internal organs. For large fleets, these additives are less expensive if purchased by the case at the industry price.
For High Point Distributing, using automated fluid exchange to service the transmissions of their delivery trucks has become a fairly routine matter. They have the following roll-around fluid exchangers to maintain their fleet: a cooling system service, a differential service, a power steering service, a brake fluid system service and a transmission fluid service. It's easy enough to follow along as a fleet maintenance technician flushes an automatic transmission, for example, and refills it with fresh ATF.
Like most automated fluid exchange equipment, this Justice Brothers transmission fluid exchange machine pictured here is easy to use. Fluid evacuation and refilling is all controlled by the lighted keypad at the top of the unit.
Two hoses are all that is required. The red hose installs the new fluids while the black hose evacuates the used fluid. With minimal training any employee can successfully use any of these maintenance machines.
A complete set of fittings come with the machines to adapt to different vehicle applications. A hose attachment fitting is installed in the fluid IN and OUT ports in the radiator. The correct hose is then attached to these slip-on connectors.
The vehicle's battery provides power for the machine, so no close-by electrical source is required. It connects just like a battery charger.
As an option, you can add a bottle of transmission cleaner and allow the machine to circulate the fluid through the system for about 15-minutes. This helps remove any stubborn dirt or sludge in the trans. It will be removed during the flush.
After the draining and filling is accomplished, the technician checks the transmission dipstick to make sure the correct fluid level was selected. It should be re-checked after the vehicle is driven.
Once the maintenance is completed, the machine will pump out the used fluid into your shop container for proper disposal. Depending on the vehicle, the whole process will take less than an hour, and during that time, the machine works with no supervision.
As a final precaution, a bottle of Heavy Duty Vehicle additive, which reduces friction and gear noise, while lowering operation temperatures of the transmission, is added. Remember, PROACTIVE saves money, REACTIVE wastes it.