Preventive Maintenance for Sweepers
Get Warranty Advice On Tires Earlyby Bobby Vaughn, Schwarze Industries' Warranty Manager
Premature tire wear is a topic that's been hotly debated at trade show get-togethers for years, and certainly one where knowledge of how to act - and react - can make a difference in the outcome of warranty claims.
One fact everyone should recognize, regardless of the type of sweeper or chassis they operate, is that the warranty for tires is almost always separate from the one covering the rest of the equipment. Included with the GM Owner's Manual, for example, there are three different tire warranties, one for each of three different manufacturers. When you read their manuals, you'll find they are pretty strict about procedure - and that they're not all the same. Typical within these documents are statements by the tire manufacturers to the effect that the purchaser is required to contact them as soon as they see tire wear that is premature or uneven, usually by the time 10 - 25% of wear has occurred.
In contrast, the typical call I get in my capacity as warranty manager at Schwarze Industries is from owners who have let their tires get 'bald' before giving the chassis maker, the tire manufacturer, or us a call. At that point it is very difficult to get warranty coverage.
When you purchase a new sweeper, it's very important that you review all of your warranty documentation. I've found that a surprising number of people never even remove their Owner's Manuals from the glove compartment. That can become a fatal mistake, since a different set of recommendations usually exist for the break-in period, for example, and there are also action items that need to happen periodically. In the back of the GM Owner's Manual that comes with their vehicles is detailed information about how the owner can order a more detailed Service Manual for an additional fee. Most sweeper owners find this to be money well spent.
Generally speaking, on almost any potential warranty issue it's always better to call too early than to wait until the problem has been ongoing for some time. In larger companies, you may want to assign the task of review manuals to the same person for all your equipment, so they can develop a system for correct decision-making. On the topic of tires, for example, the tire manufacturer may suggest that you change air pressure, perform a rotation, realign the front end of your vehicle, or take some other preventive action. By calling the tire company early on, and then doing what they suggest, you are documenting the problem within the manufacturer's warranty system. That strengthens your claim if the premature wear continues.
I recommend that our customers stop into their local dealer for whatever brand of tires is on their sweeper, and ask a veteran of the establishment to evaluate both tire wear and correct application. It's a good idea to solicit any and all recommendations concerning your tire usage, air pressure, tire size, rotation strategy, etc. If you also ask how many miles you should expect in a sweeping application, then you'll be able to do better planning for replacement. If you have your local tire professional check when the tires are new, and then periodically thereafter, they may then have a better recommendation when it comes to replacement type, brand, etc.
Most of the time, your local chassis dealer will perform a complimentary front end alignment check - and then a realignment if necessary - when the vehicle is relatively new. Policies seem to range from about 1,000 to 2,500 miles on the chassis for this service to be performed free of charge. If you find that a dealer balks at doing so, you might suggest to them that you're looking for a dealer who will become your resource for ongoing maintenance and upkeep on your chassis. Tell them that the type of dealer you're looking to do business with isn't a dealership that has to 'gouge' you on a potential problem with what is, essentially, a brand new chassis. Ask if they'd rather 'get you' for this problem, or have the opportunity to continue to make money through servicing your needs for years to come. That will often turn the tide.
The same approach may be valid for other situations. An example is a recent problem one of our users had. The fuel pump went out on his chassis, and the local chassis dealer our customer went to wanted to charge him $75 for doing the job, even though it was covered by the warranty. The rationale for the charge is that it was a harder repair because of the sweeper body being mounted. The dealer had to be made to recognize that they might get the $75 now, however if they did they wouldn't be getting ongoing repair business for the rest of the life of the chassis. I encourage you to be proactive and assertive enough to bring that point across if you are caught in a similar situation.
Because of the nature of sweepers, there are typically a number of warranties in place on the machines, each backed up by a completely different organization. Take the time to read and understand what these all are. In the long run, you'll find it to be time invested wisely. There are certain things which should be done during the break-in period, and it's important that these are understood completely. Since this is how contractors make their living, reading and understanding the manuals that come with a new chassis and sweeper should be one of their top priorities whenever they purchase one. (If you are ever caught in a breakdown situation with the manual back at your house or the shop because you were reading it, however, you'll probably realize first hand why most of them say on the cover to 'Keep This Manual In The Vehicle At All Times!') By reading and understanding your warranties before you have a need to, you'll find you will both save money and keep your sweepers in good operating condition for a longer period of time.
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