6 Fleet Maintenance Tips to Keep Your Fleet in Shape
6 Fleet Maintenance Tips to Keep Your Fleet in Shape
You know what they say about an apple a day—and, well, that’s more about your drivers’ health than that of your vehicles. But the same principle applies:
Keeping your fleet well-functioning means staying on top of fleet vehicle maintenance on a regular basis.
You can’t avoid every factor that can cause collisions or breakdowns, but maintenance can make a drastic difference in vehicle downtime and the rate of costly repairs. Plus, following a fleet maintenance plan can extend the life of your vehicles and keep your drivers and the public safer.
Let’s look at six fleet maintenance tips that can save you time, money, and headaches.
Before anything else, you might be wondering, “What is fleet maintenance?” This is the task of keeping all vehicles in your fleet in good condition so they are safe enough to be driven and used for transport and other purposes.
#1 Understand the Maintenance Cost
Any task accompanied by the word “routine” can seem fairly low-priority. But managing a fleet means understanding the critical importance of maintenance.
Properly scheduled and completed maintenance, such as oil changes, tire inspection, and rotation can:
- Save money by allowing vehicles to operate with greater fuel efficiency
- Prevent damage to adjacent engine parts or functions
- Avoid the cost and downtime of repairs related to poor maintenance
#2 Follow the List
You may know maintenance basics like the back of your hand, but that doesn’t mean all your drivers or team members know the basics too. Keeping a checklist of maintenance tasks to complete regularly can help you and your team ensure nothing crucial is missed.
Within your documentation and scheduling processes, make sure to include both the most basic aspects of vehicle functionality and maintenance in addition to those that need review less often or annually.
Essential preventive maintenance includes:
- Engine oil and filter changes on a mileage or usage basis
- Tire inspection, pressure correction, balancing, and rotation
- Brakes and brake pad inspection
- Battery and spark plug check
- Wheel alignment
- Fluids check, including transmission fluid, brake fluid, coolant, power steering fluid, and windshield washer fluid
Your preventive maintenance should also incorporate the periodic review of:
- Belts and hoses
- Steering and suspension system
- Cooling system
- Engine and transmission mounts
- Driveshafts or CV joints
- Electrical system components
- Wheels and rims
- Exhaust system
- Undercarriage and frame
- Fluid leaks
- Auxiliary systems
Fleet managers often count on drivers to report some repair needs. However, the condition of the following parts should also be reviewed with routine inspections and maintenance:
- Seatbelts and seat structures
- Nonworking exterior and interior lights
- Windshield wiper functionality
- Body dings or dents
- Glass and mirror cracks
All of these can be listed down in a maintenance task list that you or your fleet maintenance provider can review regularly.
#3 Identify Responsibilities
Within your fleet, who is responsible for checking and inflating tires? For receiving and responding to manufacturer recall notices? For scheduling timing belt replacements?
To stay on top of fleet vehicle maintenance, your team needs to know definitively who is responsible for what.
Make sure the responsibility includes:
- The pre-scheduling of routine maintenance
- Record-keeping and scheduling accessible to multiple eyes
- Performing inspections and following up on their results
- Vehicle performance review at regular intervals
- Immediate and long-term follow-up to collisions, accidents, and breakdowns
#4 Make Tires a Team Issue
Tire condition and pressure checks during routine maintenance are important, but tires need more constant attention. The condition of your fleet’s tires can influence:
- Road safety, including braking distance, steering reaction, and overall stability
- Fuel mileage
- Resistance to road surface wear and tear
- Wear on treads and structural integrity
You also want to make sure drivers understand their role in inspecting and filling tires, including:
- The effect of air and seasonal temperature on tire pressure
- How to check pressure and condition visually and with gauges
- The best time for a drive to check tire pressure
- How to fill or remove air from tires and confirm correct pressure
#5 Do the Math on Vehicle Value
How long should you keep a vehicle on the road before retiring or reselling it? Figuring out the tipping point of the cost of maintenance and repairs versus purchasing a replacement depends on multiple factors.
These considerations include:
- Trends and current state of the used vehicle market
- Resale value for each make and model in your fleet
- Coverage, cost, and value of manufacturers or extended warranties
- Tax implications of depreciation, sale, and new vehicle purchase
Deciding when to continue maintaining a vehicle and when it’s time to resell it can help you save money on more costly repairs in the long run.
#6 Use the Right Vehicle for the Job
Maintenance and repair records can also help you understand if your fleet is sized and scheduled correctly. As you build your fleet’s maintenance schedule, also consider the following factors:
- Are vehicles being consistently driven for their intended load and usage?
- Would you save by scaling to smaller vehicles at replacement time?
- Are repairs and breakdowns indicative of over-use or overloading?
- Is under-use causing higher driving costs than needed?
A fleet using vehicles with the right specifications for their purposes can result in lower total vehicle costs when considering maintenance, drive cost, and purchase price.
AtoB: A Fuel Card Program to Support Your Maintenance Plan
Preventative maintenance is a must. But responding quickly to minor repairs is equally important to boost safety, fuel economy, and vehicle life.
Moreover, when drivers can’t access the maintenance supplies they need on the road—for instance, when their fuel card restricts their ability to make purchases outside of fuel or only purchase fuel at in-network gas stations—it can end in delayed repairs and higher costs.
With our multi-service fuel card, drivers can unlock the ability to pay for repairs and parts (plus road tolls, insurance, lodging, and more) at any vehicle stop, station, or repair shop.
Whether you manage hundreds of vehicles or a single semi, we are excited to partner with your business. Find out more and apply for your AtoB fuel card today.
Kelley Blue Book. Car Tune-Up: A Checklist for Success.
JB Tools. The Ultimate Commercial Truck Maintenance Checklist.