The average driver is all too familiar with the crippling hassle and fatigue associated with vehicle breakdowns and could ultimately benefit from routine vehicle maintenance. We all know more drivers need to keep on top of their vehicles, but how can this be scaled to apply to your fleet?
Inherently, time spent dealing with breakdowns can slow down your entire fleet. The stop-and-go of repairs and breakdowns can really hold you back when you rely on your fleet to propel business. It almost goes without saying that, without a preventive maintenance routine, the shelf life of your fleet’s vehicles diminishes exponentially.
This causes concern with costs, driver morale, deadlines and delivery issues. All drivers know that keeping their vehicle in tip-top shape with proper maintenance keeps them on the road longer. Some may have older vehicles that require regular maintenance, while others may have simple wear and tear. The conditions of used vehicles highlight a safety issue and, fundamentally, a productivity and management issue.
Not only does losing valuable road time throw a wrench in your fleet, but having to pay for repairs can be equally devastating. In order to sidestep these limitations, we’ve compiled five preventive maintenance tasks that will help keep all your trucks in a row and sailing smoothly across the asphalt.
The Big Five
1. Predictive & Preventive Maintenance Program
• Identify issues and start early. Do not wait until the vehicle breaks down to check for oil issues, gas issues, or brake problems. Schedule checkups in advance and do not hesitate to get the vehicle checked out if something seems amiss.
• Invest in a daily safety checklist that requires visual survey of the vehicle.
• Be proactive, don’t be reactive. Scheduling appointments will keep your vehicles working efficiently and help you avoid the reactive costs of vehicle repair.
2. Scheduling your Maintenance
Manually scheduling your fleet for maintenance can be a mundane task for anyone. Large fleets specifically will have an issue with this, as there is not enough time in the day to oversee every single vehicle. It’s ideal to use an assisted software program that can catalog and gather reports. GPS fleet management systems with telematics can immediately identify key issues and provide detailed reports.
Fleet management software can track fuel used, miles driven, time on the road, history of vehicle, and many other features. This allows for an in-depth scope of the vehicle so that necessary repairs can be made when and if something arises.
While a daily safety checklist can be helpful, your eyes and ears are your best tools for identifying potential problems. The following is a list of steps to take when self-inspecting your vehicle:
• Look around or beneath the vehicle for wet spots. These could indicate a leak.
• Take notice of any tire wear or inflation problems.
• Inspect your fluid levels.
• When in doubt, refer to the owner’s manual of your vehicle for further tips.
4. Yearly Maintenance
Every year, you will want to pay special attention to the following items and make replacements as necessary:
• Check your battery terminals and clean them when needed. Do not wait for this cleaning to become a huge reactive maintenance task. Aim to practice predictive maintenance to avoid serious issues down the road.
• Check all your fluid levels and fill when necessary including, but not limited to, the Radiator, Transmission, Master Cylinder, and more.
• If the lights are not operating properly, replace them immediately or attend to electrical issues.
• Check the air filter and replace it if necessary.
• Lubricate your vehicle.
• Replace your engine’s oil and filter.
• For diesel pickups: Change your fuel at least once a year.
Essentially, if you notice no visual problems or performance issues, you may be able to wait a year, but avoid waiting if you notice an issue.
When taking the time to visually inspect your vehicle, also manually document your concerns if you do not have fleet tracking software. Physicians often use past issues to predict potential future problems–fleet managers and drivers can do the same thing with their vehicles.
The yearly inspection mentioned above is not a hard and fast rule. If you know that your vehicle tends to handle some things far less aptly than other models, it’s best to consider addressing those problems as soon as possible.
Tying it All Together
Take note of how many breakdowns or issues you have after implementing a company-wide strategy to maintain your fleet vehicles. You may be surprised how far a little prevention can go when it comes to saving your fleet money on repairs.
Start by seeing, paying attention to, noting (either via software or manual entry), and scheduling. Proactively engaging pain points instead of reacting to major losses in functionality is key to an effective preventive maintenance program.