While it’s important to ensure your refrigerated vehicle is properly maintained year round, winter offers many unique challenges to vehicle owners in general, and refrigerated vans must be properly maintained to avoid any adverse effects from the cold weather. Facing down wind, rain, snow, and storms, you and your refrigerated van will have to face down the very worst of the British weather, and a poorly maintained van may struggle. Here at BHRV, our team has years of experience in the refrigerated vehicle industry and have put together this helpful guide to assist you in how to keep your refrigerated van in top condition even in the worst weather conditions.
Pay Attention to Warning Lights
Warning lights are visible on your vehicle’s dashboard and light up for a reason, to catch your attention and make you aware of any problems. Many vans operate on a traffic light system, with a green warning light indicating no problems, a yellow light indicating an issue, and a red light indicating a potentially dangerous problem. Reacting quickly to these warning signs could mean the difference between paying for a repair, or paying for a replacement refrigerated vehicle. Some of the warning signs to look for include:
A problem is indicated if this light stays on after fully releasing your parking brake or if it comes on while driving. Typically, it means brake fluid is low and is recommended you take it to a professional. If your ABS light is also illuminated, this is a sign that the braking system is malfunctioning and your brakes may not be working properly.
Power Steering Light
This light comes on when there’s an issue with your power steering, which could affect your ability to turn. For refrigerated vans, sharp turning can damage the cargo in the refrigeration unit and make the goods unusable. Always get your power steering checked if this light stays on after resetting your vehicle.
Engine Temperature Light
When the engine is overheating, this light comes on. An overheating engine can cause several problems with a regular vehicle, but this problem with a refrigerated van also risks heat altering the refrigeration system and spoiling goods being transported. The damage caused by an overheating engine can be irreparable, so to avoid issues, get it checked as soon as this light appears.
Windscreen and Lights
Gritty, wet road conditions can lead to your windscreen and headlights getting covered in dirt and grime sprayed up by other vehicles on the road, which is why it’s essential to check the condition of your windscreen, wiper blades, and headlights regularly. This is to ensure that there isn’t any damage, but also to make sure that your vision is not impaired by dirt and grime on the road. Though unlikely, your refrigeration unit and any conversions made should also be properly checked and sealed before each new journey to make sure none of the dirt from the road can get inside the unit and contaminate goods.
Ensure Vehicle is Regularly Serviced
For both an independent driver and business, having your refrigerated van off the road and sitting in a garage for a service can be a pain and have an effect on income from transport. However, to keep your van, cargo, and driver safe, regular servicing is recommended and it’s even more important to undergo a service before winter to make sure everything is operating as it should be. Depending on the vehicle, services should be undertaken either every 12,000 miles or every 12 months, whichever comes first – the owner’s manual of your refrigerated vehicle should advise if this is different for your van. Whether you have a brand new refrigerated van in time for winter, or you’re using a second-hand refrigerated vehicle, keeping up to date on servicing is highly recommended in time for winter.
Be Prepared For Anything
We recommend keeping an emergency kit in the footwell of your refrigerated van, containing supplies should the worst occur and your vehicle suffers a breakdown mid transport in snow, sleet, or other adverse weather conditions. This kit should contain:
Mobile Phone and Portable Charger: Not only is this essential for arranging roadside assistance in the event of a breakdown, but allows you to contact your employer to alert them of the breakdown so that they can send support to collect your cargo and transport it to its destination without breaking the cold chain.
Shovel, Scraper, and De-icer: Snow and ice can cause several problems and, in extreme conditions, trap you in your vehicle. Keep the area around your refrigerated van free of snow build up by using a shovel and keep your windscreen and windows ice free by combining a reliable de-icer and ice scraper.
Warm Clothing and Waterproof Footwear: With no access to heat, keeping warm is your main priority when breaking down in cold weather. Your refrigerated van will provide some insulation, but make sure you have a good set of warm clothing or a blanket to hand as well as footwear like wellies to keep your feet warm and dry until help arrives.
Want more information? Get in touch with BHRV now!
There are many other great ways to make sure your refrigerated vehicle stays up and running throughout the winter months, and our experienced team at BHRV are here to help! Whether you’re looking for ways to maintain your current van, or you’re debating upgrading to a new or used refrigerated vehicle, we’re happy to offer advice and guidance for making sure your refrigerated van stays operational during even the worst of the winter weather, so please feel free to get in touch with us today! We even have advice for protecting your refrigerated van in the summer.