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Utility Vehicles: Post-Purchase Issues
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Utility Vehicles: Equipment ReplacementPt. 2: Understanding Utility Vehicle OptionsPt. 3: This Page
Purchasing a vehicle based on department needs available features is not the last step in making sure it delivers the intended benefits. Utility vehicle operators and mechanics also need to understand the importance of post-purchase inspection and repair requirements, which are essential steps in creating a daily maintenance routine.
The manufacturer’s warranty guidelines are the best available resource for educating operators and mechanics about vehicle requirements. The manuals offer a step-by-step guide on equipment operation, and they provide a detailed maintenance schedule that can help reduce repair costs.
Utility vehicles in many grounds departments have multiple users, so it is extremely important that all of its operators become familiar with the owner’s manual before using the equipment. Several manufacturers offer online training programs for new users. For managers purchasing used equipment, it is still critical to ensure new staff members know how to operate and maintain the utility vehicle. This ensures the safety of both the equipment and the fleet.
Operators and mechanics should perform such daily tasks as cleaning air and oil filters, greasing the equipment, and making sure the sniper valve and spark plugs are properly adjusted. The more time they spend maintaining the equipment, the more efficient they will become and the less prone the equipment will be to mechanical problems.
While operators and mechanics can perform certain service requirements, the dealer should complete more complex repairs. For example, dealers should repair mechanical problems related to the engine. This tactic keeps operators and mechanics safe, and it reduces the risk of further damage due to their likely lack of familiarity with the equipment, which can result in even more costly repairs.
One vital step in extending the performance lives of utility vehicles is making sure that operators store and clean them appropriately. Managers need to include storage and cleaning requirements in the daily maintenance plan in order to guarantee that vehicles work when crews need them. For example, an operator who is finished using the vehicle should be required to clean it to remove dirt and grease and to prevent it from building up.
If operators allow dirt and grease to remain on the equipment for long periods, one possible result is that it becomes difficult to reattach other pieces of equipment, leading to malfunction and expensive repairs or replacements. Proper lubrication also is important when it comes to extending the performance life of a utility vehicle, as is making sure the operator or mechanic stores it in a dry and enclosed area after using it.
Mike Fitzpatrick is vice president of U.S. Lawns which has about 260 franchise locations nationwide. He has more than 30 years of experience in the green industry.