You may think of your car as basic transportation, but it’s actually a valuable asset in a small business. In addition to getting you where you need to go, your vehicle serves as an on-the-go office and in many cases, a cargo hauler. Whether you’re using a company car or your personal vehicle, you want your car to keep you safe and to stay on the road for as long as possible. With a proactive maintenance approach, you can reduce wear and tear and avoid costly repairs.
Maintaining Regular Service
To keep your car safe and functional, stick to the manufacturer’s recommended service schedule, even when nothing’s wrong with the vehicle. This lets technicians spot small issues before they grow into big, expensive problems — the kind that leave you stranded on the side of the road during rush hour, missing appointments and throwing your day into panic mode.
Does your commute meet the definition of severe driving? While the definition varies by manufacturer, it often includes factors such as extremely hot or cold climates, frequent trips under 5 miles long, pulling a trailer, or carrying heavy loads. If your daily drive meets these criteria, follow the accelerated severe-driving maintenance schedule in your owner’s manual. For businesses that operate multiple vehicles, fleet management software makes it easier to track mileage and plan maintenance.
Avoid Short Trips
When your car starts, it takes time for the engine to warm up. In some vehicles, this process can take up to 20 minutes. During this time, the engine uses a higher gas-to-air mix that causes water vapour to build up in your exhaust and oil. The hot engine eventually evaporates the moisture and allows your car to run as designed. If you make many short trips per day, however, the engine never has the chance to reach its optimal operating temperature. Since moisture can’t burn off fully, it accumulates, which can cause the oil to gum up and the exhaust system to rust.
If you live in an area that experiences cold Canadian winters, short drives are even more detrimental. To protect your car, try combining short trips into one longer trip whenever possible. Pay special attention to the first drive of the day, when the engine is coldest from sitting overnight. Drive gently during the first few miles, and try to extend your time on the road to allow complete engine heating.
Maximize Gas Mileage
When you drive for work, your fuel costs can add up quickly, so save money by maximizing your gas mileage. Start by eliminating common causes of poor fuel economy. Keep tires at the appropriate air pressure level, take out unnecessary cargo, and avoid stop-and-go driving whenever possible. In the winter, save fuel by avoiding long periods of idling, and use a block heater to pre-warm the engine. It’s also a good idea to keep track of your gas mileage over time, since significant changes can indicate a problem with the engine.
Use Brakes Efficiently
Your car’s brakes experience a high level of stress every time you drive. Since worn-out brakes can be dangerous and costly, minimize wear to brake pads by avoiding hard, fast stops. When you hear a squealing sound, get your brake pads changed as soon as possible to avoid expensive wear on the rotors or calipers.
Maintaining a vehicle doesn’t need to be costly or time-consuming. By driving gently and following a regular maintenance schedule, you can keep your work vehicle in top shape for longer.