Time’s Up

Warranty expiration can bring transmission problems.


"Manufacturers are required to make their training available to the aftermarket. Some OEMs offer more information, and Ford just happens to offer all of the training that is available to our dealers to the aftermarket as well," he says.

"All of our training is available through motorcraft.com. Any of the aftermarket companies or fleets can go in and purchase the training through the website."

If Ford has provided a number of vehicles to a fleet, Groat says, Ford will actually go into the fleet's shop and offer them programs with trainers from Ford.

Cutler says Toyota also offers training to fleets called Toyota Hybrids General Service and Maintenance.

"It can be a course that can be a full day or modified for a half day depending upon the needs of the particular fleet," she says. "We as a whole go into detail as to how to fix just about everything. For fleets, we show them what the CVT looks like, discuss how it works, and what kind of trouble codes will come up if something goes wrong.

"However, when you get into the high voltage system, you do need our scan tool. With our Toyota software, you can see diagnostic trouble codes that you might not get if you use a generic scan tool. This may be a situation where they would need to take it to the dealership," says Cutler.

Toyota doesn't plan on stopping there. Cutler says there may be a more advanced fleet course that gets into more detail on the CVTs and other components in the future.

For Honda, this is a new and exciting market that has grown faster than they had expected.

Johnson says Honda is starting to see an increasing need for training, so they are already making plans to make sure fleets get the training they need.

"We have produced some training activities and materials that have been provided through our alternative fuels department," he says. "We have provided training to fleets through contractual instructors in the past. We are committed to any fleet that purchases vehicles from us that requests training and we are always developing ways to provide training and support."

KEEP IN MIND
Regardless of the manufacturer, one benefit for fleets all the manufacturers agree on is the simplicity of maintenance. Following the manufacturers' recommendations for maintenance procedures is the first step.

"One of the key components is that they have to be very, very careful not to mix the transmission fluid," Ford's Groat says. "If they put the wrong fluid in the transmission, they can destroy it in a hurry.

"That also comes into play when they are doing a flush and fill. Often fleets and quick oil change places will use machines to pump new fluid in and pump the old fluid out. If they do that service with that machine now, they will likely contaminate the CVT because they have some of the residual transmission fluid in the machine."

So far, fleets that own light duty vehicles with CVTs seem to be impressed by not only the efficiency, but also the performance.

Hal Mellegard, general manager of Yellow Cab Company, says the Ford Hybrid Escapes have performed, and continue to perform, better than he originally thought.

"We had some trouble with the water pump on about half of the Escapes. Ford took care of it, and it really was a learning experience for Ford and for us," he says.

Despite the minor glitch with the water pumps, the fact that the vehicles have required less maintenance, have better gas mileage and are expected to last longer, has persuaded Mellegard to probably purchase another ten or 20 new Hybrid Escapes when the new model year comes out.

"I want to see what these vehicles are like at 125,000 miles. We are continually evaluating their performance, but so far, we have no complaints," Mellegard says.

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