Automotive Fleet

JAN 2014

Magazine for the car and truck fleet and leasing industry

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MAINTENANCE Cooling System. Engines today contain a great number of aluminum parts, and aluminum needs the advanced corrosion protection that antifreeze provides. But, the primary job of the cooling system is, of course, keeping the system within an acceptable operating temperature, as well as adding to easy starting in ex- Brakes and rotors should be checked treme weather. for wear during Fleets most ofen added a fush/ a regular PM check. fll PM to the schedule once per year (about 20,000-25,000 miles), and, again, this has not changed much in 2014. Tere are some coolants which are actualalignment measures — camber, caster, and ly good for up to 150,000 miles; however, toe in/toe out — remain the same today. as with the transmission, a fush/fll each Checks. At each PM interval, most schedyear (ofen as part of "winterizing" the veules both in the past and today will call for hicle) is much cheaper than repairing the various "checks." Tese will include checking all fuids (e.g., power steering, transdamage overheating can cause. One thing that has changed is that, rathmission, and brake) checking brake wear, er than having to remove a radiator cap to and, as indicated previously, even checkcheck coolant levels (and to refll the sysing the alignment. tem), cars today have plastic overfow tanks New technology hasn't yet replaced lubrithat make the process simpler (and safer). cating and hydraulic fuids, and so they reWheel Alignment. Also called "frontmain an important part of any PM schedule. end alignment," this PM item keeps the One change has been the replacement front wheels pointed properly and fat on of individual belts for the air conditioner, the road. PM schedules over the years will power steering pump, alternator, and othhave "check alignment" as an item; hower components with a single belt called a ever, checking the alignment carries a cost serpentine belt. Checking belt wear was with it. Most times, if front tires are wearthen, and is now, an important PM activity. ing evenly, that is sufcient. Putting the veTire Rotation. Accepted as a normal, hicle on the alignment rack and checking regular PM for decades, some experts the specs costs money. If tires show uneven say that tire rotation is simply a matter wear (cupping, wear on one side, etc.) an of preference. Rotating tires ensures that tires wear evenly. Front tires, particularly alignment is needed and should be done. on front-wheel-drive vehicles, wear fastBrakes and rotors should also be checked er, as they are subject to greater stresses for wear at this time. Although front suspensions have than rear tires. changed over the years the three Even tire wear permits the replacement of tires in sets of four. Tat said, some Checking fuids and coolants has experts will say that provided individremained part of ual tires are wearing evenly, that front a successful PM program. tires wearing out sooner than rear tires is not a safety issue, and replacement of tires in pairs is perfectly acceptable. Keep in mind, when tires are rotated they should be balanced and the wheel alignment performed, so this additional expense must be considered. Prior to the mid-1980s, most vehicles were rear-wheel drive and front tires were not subject to the same stresses as those on subsequent 50 AUTOMOTIVE FLEET I JANUARY 2014 Tire rotation and wheel alignment are part of a successful PM program. front-wheel-drive vehicles, which became more popular in ensuing years. Some Changes, But Still Important Strictly enforcing and creating a PM schedule is one of the most critical elements of a successful feet operation, today as well as in the past. Well-maintained vehicles run well, get top fuel mileage, and bring top dollar at resale. Fleets have seen, however, that a number of important elements of PM schedules and activity have changed over the years, some dramatically, others less so. Oil changes remain the key determinant of PM intervals, however with synthetic oils, better flters, and more advanced engine materials, most vehicles can go thousands of miles longer between changes without negative efects. Tune-ups have become nearly obsolete. Prior to the advent of electronic ignition and fuel injection, the cleaning, replacement, and recalibration of the components of mechanical ignition and carburation was critically important. Now, with most of these components gone, tune ups aren't necessary. Most of the other items of a good PM schedule, such as transmission fuid and screen changes, cooling system fush/flls, fuid checks, and wheel alignment remain largely the same today as they were when Jimmy Carter was president. Vehicle, component, and additive technology have changed, and PM scheduled activity along with them, but what hasn't changed is the importance of PMs in ensuring the safe and efcient operation of feet vehicles. AF

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