How to Identify Potential Vehicle Issues with Your Senses

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Before you (or one of your drivers, if you manage a fleet) get into your van and drive off to do your courier work, you should always make sure you complete your daily vehicle inspection report (DVIR). Of course, you already knew that, but what you might not know is that your vehicle could potentially experience problems DVIRs don’t pick up.

But don’t despair or bury your head in the sand, because there are many ways you and your employees can keep your eyes, noses and ears peeled for issues not only when inspecting your fleet, but also when you’re out on the road driving.

Hear Today, Gone Tomorrow

While you’re out completing your courier work, make sure to keep your eyes on the road and your mind on the job. But you should also have your ears pricked for sounds that could indicate a problem, including any mysterious clunks and clangs. If you hear screeching when you operate your bakes, you should pay particularly close attention – it might mean that the brake pads are old and need to be replaced.

Your ears may also alert you to problems with your wheels and tyres. Thumping paired with the feeling that your vehicle is shaking could indicate an issue with your alignment, whereas thuds and a ‘whomp’ sound may mean your tyres are worn out and the tread is eroding.

The Nose Knows

If your van is emitting some funky smells, don’t wait until after you’ve completed your courier work for the day – immediate maintenance can save you lots of time and money in the long run. Here are two scents that just aren’t sensible to ignore:

•Rotten eggs – You should only ever smell eggs while you’re eating your breakfast (and even then, they shouldn’t be rotten!). This odour may mean the fuel filter is damaged or there’s a problem with the catalytic converter.
•Gasoline – If you’re at a petrol station, this smell is probably fine… but if you’re not, this aroma might mean there’s a leak in your fuel tank. Make sure that you have a mechanic take a look at this immediately, as leaks can be highly flammable.

See It, Say It, Sorted

Leaks have no business being anywhere in your van so you (and your drivers) should be on the lookout for them as you go about your courier work. If you encounter any, you should take your vehicle to a mechanic as soon as possible. Common leaks include oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid and coolant.

There’s absolutely no doubt your courier work will go a lot more smoothly if your vehicle or vehicles are in tip-top condition. While your DVIRs will help you recognise any issues early on, they may not have every potential problem covered. Make sure you constantly enlist the help of your eyes, ears and nose as you go about your daily business, that way, you’ll be sure to nip any potential problems in the bud, saving you time, money and effort.

Norman Dulwich is a correspondent for Courier Exchange, the world's largest neutral trading hub for same day courier work in the express freight exchange industry. Numerous transport exchange businesses are networked together on their website, trading jobs and capacity through what is now the fastest growing Freight Exchange in the UK.

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