Your fleet is the lifeblood of your business, with each truck needing the required TLC to keep it performing on the road. That’s why we’ve compiled our comprehensive guide to fleet maintenance best practices. Here, you will find everything you need to know about maintaining your fleet in six easy-to-implement processes.
Now that’s out of the way, let's dive in!
Create a Fleet Diagnosis
The first thing you need to do is create a fleet diagnosis to gauge the overall health of your fleet. This can also help identify any problem areas that you can focus your efforts on. Without it, you might believe that one component requires attention, but in actuality, it is fine as is, and you would be wasting your time focusing on it here rather than somewhere that actually needs it.
To create a fleet diagnosis, you will need to collect the following:
- An inventory of your commercial vehicles, equipment, and fleet-related assets
- A thorough documentation of each vehicle’s condition
- How far each vehicle travels each month
- All fleet-related expenses
- A profile of your drivers, including any health conditions and training/qualifications that they have completed
Develop a Fleet Maintenance Schedule
Creating a comprehensive fleet maintenance schedule can allow you to address any small issues before they develop into larger, more expensive problems that cause extended downtime.
Fleet maintenance schedules can help improve safety on the road by carrying out routine checks on components such as brakes and tires, where faults can lead to hazardous situations.
Ultimately, implementing this can help your bottom line by extending your fleet’s lifespan, making them more fuel efficient, and improving their reliability.
Your schedule should include:
- Fleet evaluation: Age, mileage, usage patterns, and manufacturer of individual vehicles
- Identify maintenance tasks: Preventive maintenance, inspections, and repairs, including things like oil changes, fluid checks, brake inspections, and tire rotations
- Maintenance time: When will your fleet require routine maintenance? Fleet management software can help with this task
- Maintenance responsibility: Are you going to carry out the maintenance in-house, or are you outsourcing it to a trusted garage like National Fleet Management?
- Effectiveness: Make sure you’re making notes of things such as fuel efficiency and on-road performance. Sometimes it takes a few tries to get right, and you might find that tweaking aspects of your fleet maintenance yields better results
Conduct Regular Inspections
Inspections are required to ensure the safe, reliable, and efficient operation of your fleet. It can also help you stay on the right side of safety and environmental regulations, which, if not followed, could see you slapped with a fine of up to $45,268 per non-compliant vehicle or engine.
Types of inspections you should carry out include:
- Pre-trip inspection: Check that safety features such as brakes, lights, tires, and fluid levels are all in working condition
- Regular maintenance: Conducted on a scheduled basis and should take mileage, time, and usage into account, with particular attention given to brakes, suspension, steering, and fluids
- DOT inspections: Regulated by the Department of Transportation, these are required for all commercial vehicles crossing state lines. Individual states may also have their own DOT criteria
- Past accident checks: If any of your fleet is involved in a collision, then they will need to be assessed quickly for any immediate repairs
- Specialized checks: If your fleet transports hazardous materials, then there are extra checks that they will need to undergo
Keeping up to date with fleet history can help improve overall fleet health, mitigate liability risks, maintain adherence to compliance, and reduce operational costs. In the modern day, this is easier than ever, with everything being able to be digitally stored on the cloud, meaning that there is no need for stacks of paper crowding your office space.
Records to keep include:
- Vehicle information: Make, model, and VIN of each vehicle to help identify them and keep on top of any maintenance issues.
- Maintenance and repair history: Date, type of service, parts used, who carried out the maintenance, and the cost of the service
- Preventive maintenance schedules: Oil changes, tire rotations, brake inspections, mileage or time intervals for each service, as well as the date of the service and the cost.
- Inspection reports: DOT inspections, annual inspections, and pre-trip inspections can help highlight any defects or violations
- Warranty claims: Keep a record indicating the date and type of claim or any required documentation
- Fuel and usage: Fuel purchases and vehicle usage, such as mileage and hours of operation
Make Use of Preventive Maintenance
As the old saying goes, “A stitch in time saves nine.” Our comprehensive preventive maintenance service at National Fleet Management can go a long way toward boosting the overall health of your fleet. Which includes:
- Engine: Change oil, coolant, and air filters regularly
- Brakes: Inspect and maintain brake components
- Suspension: Check shocks, struts, and alignment
- Transmission: Follow fluid change guidelines
- Cooling: Regularly inspect hoses and radiators
- Electrical: Test batteries, alternators, and connections
- Tires: Monitor pressure, tread wear, and balance
- Exhaust: Check for leaks and damage
- Fuel: Clean injectors, replace filters, and check for leaks
- Lubrication: Grease bearings and joints to reduce friction
Utilize Fleet Management Software
Using fleet management software can help streamline and automate many processes regarding fleet management. This includes developing schedules, tracking inspections, and keeping records.
Fleet management software also comes with a range of additional features that can help you keep on top of fleet behavior and health on the road. These include:
- Real-time tracking: Monitoring real-time metrics such as speed, idle time, and fuel usage. This can then be used to inform any required maintenance.
- Route-optimization: Plan the most cost-effective routes that are not only easy on your bottom line but also on the truck’s engine components.
- Geofencing features: Set a digital perimeter that, when broken, alerts the driver and fleet manager. This allows your trucks to stay on the pre-agreed routes but also increases fleet security, with some software even having the ability to shut down engines with the push of a button.
- Driver risk scoring: Grade your driver's performance, allowing for safety and reputation preservation on the road.
When it comes to best practices for maintaining your fleet, there is a lot to consider. Begin with creating a fleet diagnosis so you know every minute detail about your fleet and where to focus your efforts.
Then, after implementing each step that we’ve listed above, you can build yourself an all-encompassing fleet maintenance plan to keep your fleet in peak condition and performing on the road!