Don’t Break Down! 3 Ways to Avoid Downtime on the Motorway
No one likes a breakdown, especially not on the motorway. And if you’ve ever had a breakdown in a tunnel, you know there are few more dreaded events. Yet in the UK we experience more than 30,000 breakdowns on our motorways every year.
When it comes to the road freight business, this means delays at best and high repair costs at worst. Given our long-established experience with roadside assistance across Europe, we rounded up the top three reasons for HGV breakdowns and how you can avoid them.
1. Tyre Maintenance
The government-owned Highways England agency shows almost 90% of HGV motorway breakdowns are related to poor tyre maintenance. Similar figures echoed by the Road Haulage Association (RHA) also reveal the reason fleets don’t examine tyre pressure is to save on associated costs.
Ironically, badly maintained tyres have a much shorter lifespan (meaning higher tyre costs) and can even lead to higher fuel consumption. Overinflated tyres tend to cause uneven wear. On the flipside, when a tyre is underinflated, it becomes more likely to get punctured or overheat. Because underinflated tyres are more flexible, their increased rolling resistance also leads to higher fuel consumption.
To avoid sudden setbacks, do get your tyres checked and fix the issues promptly. As an alternative to regular checks, you can invest in tyre products such as sealants to improve maintenance. These kinds of products preserve pressure levels while also extending the tyre’s lifetime. And yes, that does mean lower costs down the road! Not to mention avoiding high-risk circumstances.
2. Fuel Management
Fuel maintenance is right up there with tyres when it comes to top causes for breakdowns. If your fuel tank is filled to the brim, the breather vent is the only way for hot fuel to get out. That’s pretty bad for truck health (and harmful to fellow motorists, particularly those on motorbikes). Meanwhile, if you have too little fuel in the tank, you will do damage to your engine, which could incur massive repair costs.
Then, there’s simply running out of fuel and being stuck on the road. One of the more challenging aspects of fleet management is coordinating how often drivers fuel up to ensure the trucks don’t run dry on the road. A slightly more humiliating problem is filling up with the wrong fuel (a far more common problem than you’d think). If you or your drivers routinely switch between petrol and diesel lorries, it’s best to stick some sort of notification near the filler cap.
You can help control your fuel usage levels by using a fuel miser, which is similar to a speedometer but rather alerts you when you’re guzzling too much fuel. It’s set to an ‘ideal’ selection of driving conducts and blinks red or yellow lights when it detects things like over-acceleration or brisk braking. It may sound like an annoying gadget, but like anything, you get used to it after a while. Thanks to saving on fuel consumption, the technology ends up paying for itself.
3. Oil Changes
Changing your oil doesn't only help keep the inside of your truck clean. The lubrication also affects just about every other cause for breakdowns. That includes a smoother-running and longer-living engine. On the other hand, the refuse and muck from dirty oil will negatively impact engine performance.
The best way to prevent oil damage is to get your oils checked by an oil condition monitoring (OCM) programme like ANAC. Without dissembling the truck, analysis experts determine highly accurate diagnoses of all moving parts, from the engine to transmissions and hydraulics. This system thus help you keep an eye on the condition of your engine correctly and precisely.
The ANAC programme is particularly simple to put into place, and provides straightforward, well-engineered reports on the condition of your vehicles. It then lets you manage your OCM programme based on the outcome and personalised recommendations. From the diagnosis of each vehicle, you can plan separate maintenance programmes for each individual lorry. That means safer trucks and fewer breakdowns – a proven benefit of the programme.
In the unfortunate event of a blown-out tyre, fuel issue or engine problem, there are always roadside assistance programmes like AS 24’s Eurotrafic assistance that can get you rolling again in decent time by repairing the vehicle onsite, or towing it to the nearest garage. But, as we all know, prevention is always better for business.