It’s common to see utility vehicles deployed in a variety of work environments, from distribution warehouses to golf courses. No industry can chew up and spit out even the most rugged UTV models like a construction site, though. For construction business owners who are focused on maximizing productivity so that work finishes on time and under budget, downtime is simply not an option. By employing simple work vehicle preventative maintenance, you can ensure that vehicles function longer, preventing downtime and costly vehicle repairs. Taking the time to go through a proper maintenance check ensures you can finish projects on time and under budget.
Here are 10 cost-effective preventative maintenance measures that every firm should address with crews utilizing work vehicles on a jobsite.
1. Check tire pressure daily
It almost seems too simple, but this step is often overlooked each morning before the first crew member hops in the utility vehicle. Low tire pressure is one of the biggest contributors to an increase in rolling resistance. Vehicles with low tire pressure require more energy (gasoline or battery voltage, depending on the vehicle’s power source) to push the vehicle, resulting in higher fuel costs or unexpected downtime waiting for a battery to recharge.
Ride quality and vehicle stability will also be adversely affected by low tire pressure. Check tires’ current pressure levels against the maximum pressure listed on sidewalls of tires. Proper tire pressure also helps promote even wear.
2. Charge electric vehicles nightly
Charging vehicles after each workday keeps batteries full and ready for when your crew is back on-site. This practice promotes longer battery life and helps prevent depth of discharge issues, which can’t be reversed.
3. Check the battery electrolyte level
Checking the electrolyte level monthly on electric vehicles prevents battery damage by the vehicle being operated when water levels are low. Battery plates that are exposed to atmospheric pressure and air can be quickly damaged beyond repair. Remember, the fluid level should always be at least a half-inch above the battery plates in order to prevent irreversible damage.
4. Clean the battery terminals
Keeping an electric UTV’s battery terminals clean and free of corrosion prevents hardware damage and minimizes high-resistance connections. This can hinder vehicle performance by damaging the terminal itself and reducing the amount of available battery voltage.
Apply a solution consisting of baking soda and water at least monthly to clean corrosion from terminals where build-up is present. Prevent future corrosion by coating every inch of the terminals with a commercially-available terminal spray.
5. Perform an operator brake check
A quick brake check will not only alert the vehicle operator if additional brake service is needed, but more importantly, it will also keep your crew safe on the jobsite. Before each shift, run the vehicle up to a moderate speed and apply the service brake to ensure the vehicle stops properly.
If it’s needed, contact your local UTV service representative and perform a “lockout/tagout” on the vehicle in question until the brakes are fixed.
6. Check the steering assembly
Check for any excessive movement of the wheel or looseness in the steering assembly monthly. Similar to the brake check, perform a “lockout/tagout” on the vehicle and contact your local UTV service representative prior to returning the UTV to service.
7. Check the vehicle’s safety devices
Utility vehicles in the construction market can come equipped with any number of safety devices designed to keep the crew both in and around the vehicle safe. Reverse alarms and motion indicators—both audible buzzers and visual flashing lights—need to be working properly at all times. No safety device should ever be bypassed on the UTV, including operator-present systems.
8. Check the rear axle for lubricant leakage
Make a visual check for leakage of the rear axle once a month. This is a common occurrence in construction environments where the jobsite can be harsh for UTV operation. Check the axle seals for leakage annually during a more robust maintenance review.
9. Check front wheel alignment
A quarterly inspection of your front wheel alignment will prevent front tire wear and will decrease rolling resistance, which can reduce fuel efficiency in gas UTVs and battery life in electric UTVs.
10. Check shocks for leakage or damage
This quarterly inspection helps ensure the best ride possible for the operator. A stable ride also improves load stability to ensure equipment placed in the vehicle bed stays put.
These ten steps are simple ones, but they go a long way in helping to ensure equipment is ready to work when you need it and how you need it. By taking the steps to make sure all of the UTVs on the jobsite are properly maintained, your company will save money and boost operating time.