If you run a trucking company, a taxi service, a shipping service or another company that relies on vehicles, fleet maintenance and repair is crucial for doing business. Vehicle maintenance is vital for keeping drivers on schedule, as well as for avoiding costly accidents. Accident rates for commercial fleets reached 20 percent last year, costing companies an average of $70,000, with poor vehicle maintenance helping contribute to this high incident rate.
You can avoid expensive accidents and keep your fleet on schedule by taking a proactive approach to vehicle maintenance and repairs. Here are three tips for keeping your fleet in top shape.
1. Create a Maintenance Checklist
The foundation of a successful preventive maintenance plan is a comprehensive checklist to guide your standard operating procedures. A good checklist should cover all major components that require maintenance, including:
- Exterior items such as mirrors, lights and rust
- Interior items such as seatbelts, dashboard lights and air conditioning
- Wheels and tires
- Engine issues such as oil and filters, fluids, and belts and hoses
- Transmission fluid and mounting
- Glass and windshield
- Other items such as steering and suspension, electrical systems and exhaust systems
Use your vehicle’s owner’s manual to develop a comprehensive checklist, or ask your company’s repair shop to help you design one.
2. Schedule Maintenance Inspections
Once you have a checklist of what needs to be maintained, the next step is to schedule regular maintenance inspections for each item. In order to do this, start by doing an inspection of each vehicle in your fleet. Record the health of each vehicle by creating a log noting items such as:
- Dealership where the vehicle was purchased or its previous owner
- Accident history
- Maintenance and replacement history
- Tire condition
- Fluid levels
- Full report from inspection
Based on this baseline, you can schedule regular maintenance inspections according to recommendations from your vehicle owner’s manual and your repair shop. If certain parts will need to be replaced regularly, it may be useful to keep a supply on hand or to pre-order parts. For instance, you may wish to keep a supply of different sizes of silicone rubber o-rings on hand so that they are available as needed. Record all inspections, replacements and repairs in your maintenance log.
Sometimes, parts will wear out ahead of schedule and need to be replaced. Advise your drivers to keep an eye out for items such as tire wear, warning lights and braking performance issues, and to report these as they come up.
3. Automate Maintenance and Repairs
Trying to manually keep track of maintenance for all your vehicles can be difficult, making it easy to miss scheduled repairs. The best way to make sure all your vehicles get inspected and maintained on time is to use fleet maintenance management software to automatically remind you when inspections are due.
You can also use automated apps to monitor the condition of vehicle systems and parts. Installing a fleet telematics system will allow your main office to monitor the condition of vehicles remotely using onboard sensors. For instance, UPS trucks now use over 200 sensors to monitor the condition of company vehicles. This can enable you to detect when equipment is failing and even anticipate when repairs will be needed.
It’s Worth It to Be Proactive With Your Fleet Maintenance
A maintenance checklist forms the foundation of an effective strategy for keeping your fleet vehicles in top repair. Scheduling regular maintenance inspections allows you to make sure replacements and repairs are performed on time. Automated tools such as fleet maintenance management software and fleet telematics systems help you keep up with scheduled repairs and replacements so that your vehicles stay in top working order.