With proper storage and organization upgrades, compact pickup trucks can be transformed into work vehicles for tasks from utility maintenance to animal control. While these trucks are versatile enough to go almost anywhere, there are still some basic winterization tasks necessary to prepare these fleet vehicles for the extra challenges of the cold. Deal with fewer breakdowns and costly fleet truck repairs this winter by preparing with these five tips first.

Battery Testing

Cold temperatures increase the amount of electricity required to start the vehicle, putting more wear and tear on the battery. Older batteries often start struggling to turn the engine over during the coldest temperatures of the winter. Unless you want to spend a lot of time and money sending out emergency help to drivers stranded at remote locations due to trucks that won't start, test the fleet's batteries before the first cold snap of the season arrives. Replace any batteries showing a reduced ability to hold a charge or outward signs of age like corrosion, leaking around the terminals, or cracking of the case.

Fluid Changes

The cold temperatures of winter put more strain on the engine's fluids as well, from the oil to the transmission fluid. Make sure that all the trucks have a proper 50/50 blend of distilled water and antifreeze long before the first freeze is possible, or the engines could be seriously damaged. Using worn-out oil while driving on slippery ice and water covered roads can result in damage to the engine due to a lack of fluid pressure and reduced viscosity. Don't forget to check the brake fluid pressure as well so that all of your drivers can stop on a dime whether the fluid is cold or warmed up.

Exterior Coating

While the finish of your fleet trucks may not the first concern on your mind as the vehicle manager, it's still worth maintaining the undercarriage in particular because surface damage can quickly turn into serious corrosion that weakens suspension and frame parts. Winter in even the mildest climates usually results in salt coatings to prevent ice accumulation on the roads, and work trucks pick up a thick crust of this corrosive salt after driving around all day on salted roads. Have the trucks sprayed with a protective undercarriage coating, in addition of a clear coating to protect the paint as well, well before winter arrives.

Full Tank

In order to prevent serious fuel problems from causing your fleet to fall behind schedule and miss appointments, instruct your drivers to top up regularly and aim to keep tanks as full as possible when temperatures are near or below freezing. Any excess water in the gas tank or fuel lines can freeze and create blockages that lead to increased fuel consumption, trouble starting, or poor acceleration. A full gas tank doesn't have the space for water to separate out and freeze, so this simple practice can make a big difference in fuel system operation during the winter. When you're dealing with an entire fleet, even a small increase in efficiency quickly adds up.

New Filters

Finally, replace the fuel filters on your fleet trucks before winter arrives, or at least check them for sediment and clogging. These filters are prone to freezing and fuel gelling when dirty because they're trapping water and fuel instead of letting it flow smoothly through to the rest of the system. Most of the diesel trucks used for work fleets include water-separating chambers as part of the fuel filters, so check and empty this chamber before freezing temperatures arrive to prevent a block of ice from blocking the flow and putting one or more trucks out of commission.

For more information, contact a company like Florida Truck & Trailer CO.