As a fleet manager, vehicle breakdowns cause more than a simple inconvenience. When one of your vehicles experiences a mechanical failure, your costs quickly add up. Along with the price of the repair, you can also lose money to unplanned downtime and a decrease in vehicle value.
You can never guarantee perfect performance from all of your vehicles, but you can do your part to prevent problems. Implementing an strong preventative maintenance program can help you improve operations and costs for all of your assets.
1. Develop fleet policies
Every effective program starts with deliberately planned policies and procedures. Start by determining maintenance intervals for each type of vehicle. You may want to use variable measures that depend on use and time of year.
You should also decide how drivers should submit inspections and vehicle concerns, as well as where to keep these records. Create a preventative maintenance checklist. Decide if you’ll use in-house staff or outsourced mechanics. Plan out your program to avoid missing important problems that can lead to expensive repairs.
2. Implement regular inspections
Your preventative maintenance should include both official inspections made by mechanics and routine driver inspections. The FMCSA, for example, requires drivers to conduct and file driver vehicle inspections reports (DVIRs) at the end of each day. These reports are designed to quickly catch any potential problems before they become safety issues. Regular inspections also allow drivers to become more familiar with their vehicles, increasing the chance of noticing developing problems.
3. Stick to your maintenance intervals
When vehicles are running without issue, it’s easy to let your maintenance schedule slide. The longer you go between oil changes and checking tire pressure, however, the greater the risks are to your vehicles. Even if you don’t see any problems now, poor maintenance schedules will eventually lead to greater costs and breakdowns. Decide if your schedule will be based on odometer readings or time and stick to it.
4. Use a telematics solution
The most successful preventative maintenance programs include fleet telematics solutions. Use your software to automate your maintenance schedules and record your inspections. You can track engine diagnostics, receiving real-time alerts when something goes wrong. Your solution can also generate reports to support your maintenance decisions.
Have you implemented a preventative maintenance program? What advice would you give to other fleet managers?