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May 20, 2021

10 Vehicle Maintenance Tips That Fleet Managers Should Know

10 Vehicle Maintenance Tips That Fleet Managers Should Know

There’s no denying the value of preventative fleet maintenance. Not only does it save money by lowering your operating costs, but you’ll also get more life out of your fleet vehicles, improve productivity, and reduce their environmental impact long-term.

In this blog post, we’ll review ten preventative maintenance tips that you can follow to help ensure your fleet vehicles are kept in good working order while improving their long-term performance. Here’s how to take a proactive approach:

1. Make Sure Vehicles Are Fit For Purpose

It’s important to adequately equip your fleet vehicles for the task at hand. If you under-spec, it could lead to faster wear and tear. If you over-spec, then you’ll incur unnecessary costs. 

To avoid this issue, determine what a vehicle will be carrying and its operating condition before deciding on the type of vehicles you’ll be purchasing. This way, you’ll get the most efficient use out of it and minimize the chance of performance declines.

2. Determine Your Purchasing Requirements

While it is tempting to hop from one deal to another when sourcing fleet vehicles, creating a standardized list of purchasing requirements makes your fleet more cost-effective in the long term. Produce a checklist of crucial, required features that all your vehicles need to use to guide your purchasing decisions. These features can include: 

  • Available and affordable replacement parts
  • Easy vehicle replaceability 
  • Fuel efficiency below a specific rate
  • Load carrying capacity 
  • A low total cost of ownership (TCO)
  • Industry-specific features relevant to your organization

3. Set and Enforce Clear Policies

Does your company have clear policies in place when it comes to enforcing optimal fleet performance? If not, be sure to set forth effective policies that communicate and implement good fleet management practices. Here are some of the guidelines you should consider having in place: 

  • Vehicle purchasing policy: What essential features should vehicles have?
  • Data collection policy: What vehicle data do you need to have collected? How will drivers be held accountable for recording it? 
  • Driver licensing policy: What are the consequences for drivers allowing their licenses to expire? 
  • Maintenance schedules: How often should drivers expect you to take vehicles out of circulation for servicing?

4. Preplan Your Maintenance Schedules

Fleet Vehicle Maintenance

Instead of waiting for a vehicle to require significant repairs, take a proactive approach. Above, we talked about instituting a clear maintenance schedule and letting drivers know when to take vehicles out of circulation for servicing. Doing this helps to prevent expensive servicing when it eventually breaks down. 

Believe it or not, paying for preventative maintenance for your entire fleet is less expensive than major repairs! It also means you’ll be able to drive those vehicles for longer because you’ve taken better care of them through a healthy cadence of checkups.

5. Optimize Your Driving Routes

As a fleet expands, there’s more likely to be inefficiencies because of how much activity occurs. Drivers are more likely to make unnecessary trips, and employees may be incorporating more personal travel into their routes than is necessary. You can work to reduce mileage by optimizing your route schedules to ensure your fleet is functioning as efficiently as possible. 

Additionally, it’s crucial to perform periodic audits of your logs. Do you see any drivers performing unnecessary travel? If yes, communicate your findings to help drivers understand policies and how they ensure sustainable performance across your fleet.

6. Reduce Vehicle Idle Times

Inefficient vehicle idling times can be a major contributor to increased spending on fuel and unwanted carbon emissions. Click To Tweet

Reducing idle times ultimately results in both cost savings and a reduction in demand on the engine itself. This preventative maintenance measure should start with your drivers. Talk to them about taking all of the following actions: 

  • Turning off engines when vehicles are not in use 
  • Following manufacturer recommendations for the minimum warm-up time
  • Obeying local anti-idling laws

While educating drivers and creating policies in this area is a good start, you can also use vehicle calibration solutions like Derive VQ Efficiency to take more control over your fleet. These solutions enable you to unlock custom vehicle tunings and eco adjustments on all of your vehicles, significantly reducing wear and tear on your vehicles as well as carbon emissions.

7. Educate Drivers To Recognize Issues

While everyone knows how to recognize the warning lights on their dashboard, not everyone knows how to identify other potential indicators of a problem. Indicators will alert a driver that there’s an issue before a vehicle is due to break down. 

The best part? Anyone can recognize these indicators by looking or listening for them, so make sure you include vehicle checklists with all of your drivers.

Here are just some of the things that they can look for: 

  • Out-of-character vibrations
  • Strange noises
  • Higher than usual idle RPM
  • Thick exhaust smoke
  • Ignition delays

8. Keep Your Vehicles Clean

There are a couple of reasons why keeping your vehicles clean is essential. One is strictly functional and for preventative maintenance purposes. Maintaining the exterior of your vehicle allows you to catch issues like rust and deterioration early. 

Vehicle cleanliness is even more critical now than it was pre-COVID. Encourage your drivers, especially those operating remotely, to regularly clean and disinfect their vehicles. Having a system like this in place will allow you to catch any issues before they become more extensive and more expensive.

9. Understand Total Cost of Ownership

Fleet Vehicle Maintenance

Maintaining a fleet can get expensive, and if you don’t recognize all your costs associated with operations, you could be paying more for the wrong things at the wrong time. The total cost of ownership (TCO) is a financial estimate that can help buyers determine vehicles’ direct and indirect costs. When it comes to fleet management and maintenance, it’s helpful when making decisions regarding: 

  • Budgeting and planning
  • Asset lifecycle management 
  • Vehicle selection
  • Manufacturer selection 
  • Leasing vs. Buying
  • Conventional vs. Electric 

Taking all of this into account can help you understand the full cost of owning a fleet of vehicles and the most financially efficient way to maintain it.

10. Utilize Fleet Management Technology

Investing in technology can help you gain a competitive advantage when it comes to vehicle fleet maintenance. Fleet management solutions like Derive VQ can give you the visibility and control you need to efficiently scale your fleets while ensuring you stay on top of your vehicle maintenance needs.

If you haven’t already invested in vehicle calibrations and supporting solutions, now is the time to do so. Derive Systems offers vehicle software calibration that helps fleet managers make their vehicles work for them, facilitating a proactive approach to all your vehicle maintenance needs.

Final Thoughts

The big takeaway: prevention is always better than finding a cure when it comes to vehicle maintenance. By following these ten tips, you’ll be sure to get the value you’re looking for out of your fleet vehicles while significantly reducing your overhead.

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