Any mechanic who works on commercial fleet vehicles will tell you that preventative maintenance will save your company time and money. A well-maintained fleet means having vehicles that break down less and that use less fuel. However, many building service contractors and commercial cleaning companies still come up short when it comes to fleet vehicle maintenance. As a mobile mechanic, I have worked with a number of managers to ensure their company vehicles are running their best. Here are a few tips to make sure maintenance is being done regularly and effectively.
1. Create a preventative maintenance schedule
Don’t wait until something breaks to fix it. One of the biggest problems I see with customers is they wish the mechanic could fix the vehicle while it is driving down the road. I understand the sentiment since a broken down work truck is not making you any money. However, I would recommend scheduling blocks of time for preventative maintenance including when to change fluids and batteries and check the oil. Many mechanics who work with fleets understand the business and are willing to conduct jobs after or before your business hours. Scheduling preventative maintenance during off hours or during meetings will ensure your fleet runs properly without leaving your business short enough vehicles to operate.
2. Record all maintenance work and inspect vehicles daily
Always keep an accurate record of when maintenance was done on every fleet vehicle and make sure drivers inspect the vehicle before taking it out on the job. Records should include when the last oil change was done, tires were changed, and any other maintenance work.
Employees may not be assigned the same vehicle every day. Different drivers using the same vehicle can cause more wear and tear and allow for small problems to go unnoticed. For these reasons, drivers should inspect company vehicles at least once a day. Give them a checklist that includes tire pressure, engine, transmission, brakes, and windshield glass. Use the checklist to catch problems before they become big issues.
Track all maintenance work manually on paper or use a fleet management software program. Many software programs are available today and can save you time, especially if you have many vehicles in your fleet.
Set a couple of standard metrics on when maintenance should automatically occur. This means servicing all vehicles at a certain mileage or certain number of hours the vehicle has been in operation.
3. Change batteries and check brakes frequently
Fleet managers should err on the side of caution when it comes to changing batteries and checking brakes. A rule of thumb is to change your battery every three years even if it is functioning. The rationale for this is simple: You can save thousands of dollars by doing maintenance ahead of time. If you wait to change a battery when it dies, you lose money while an inoperable car waits for a new battery.
Brake maintenance is another area where upkeep can fall flat. I have seen companies lose thousands of dollars due to neglected brake maintenance. I recommend having a professional check your brakes every three months. This scheduled maintenance could be the difference between having to simply pay for new brake pads or having to pay thousands to fix shot rotors and calipers.
Fleet maintenance is incredibly important to your bottom line and your employees’ safety. Conducting maintenance properly and frequently can be the difference between your company making money one day and losing money the next day. Working with your mechanic to create a preventative maintenance schedule and ensuring drivers conduct regular checkups will go a long way in keeping your fleet on the road.