Do Your Due Diligence: Keeping Fleet Vehicles on a Maintenance Schedule
Posted 12 September 2016 by Stacey Papp
If you have kids, or if you have friends with kids – or even if you just read the news – you’ll know that there is a modern phenomenon that parents of yore (that is, people who had children pre-1990) would definitely have given us the side eye for: overscheduling children.
Back in the day, not only were children expected to be seen and not heard, but they were also expected to make their own fun and basically stay out of their parents’ hair until meal times.
People born after a certain year who have watched the buzzy new Netflix show “Stranger Things” have marveled at the way the kids in the show are left to entertain themselves after school and get everywhere on their bikes – some of the main characters’ parents are only seen at a funeral and don’t even have speaking lines.
Now, some parents make it literally their full-time jobs to shuttle children to soccer practice, dance class, swim team, flute lessons, Scout meetings, etc., etc., ensuring that their kids have a fully jam-packed schedule after school and on weekends.
There are various schools of thought on this – some people think it keeps kids out of trouble, or keeps trouble from finding them – but no matter your opinion, you sort of have to admire people who are able to coordinate the busy schedules of (in many cases) more than one of their precious little angels – in fact, maybe it’s such a modern phenomenon because it was WAY harder to handle before tools like Google Calendar and Siri or Alexa reminding us where to be, when.
Of course, parents aren’t the only ones who have to juggle multiple schedules and remember when to do things at certain times or on certain days. Fleet managers and operations leaders are responsible for an entire fleet of vehicles, and it can get tough to keep track of which vehicles are due for what service in a given week or month.
But even though it has its challenges, keeping vehicles on a regular maintenance schedule is not really optional – it’s critical to keeping the business up and running, bringing in the dough and making customers happy.
So how can you keep your fleet moving?
Read the owner’s manual. For fleet managers and ops leaders who might be overseeing a few different types of vehicles in a fleet, not all trucks will be on the same schedule (we all know that a vehicle can go longer than 3,000 miles between oil changes, but some brand-new ones can go 10,000, whereas slightly older models should get them every 7,000). The vehicle’s manual provides guidance on items like timing belts, drive belts and filters as well.
Don’t underestimate the power of an inspection. Schedule yourself for a once-over on every vehicle at least once a month, and remind the drivers that they should take five minutes before pulling off to check headlights, tire pressure, etc. You can check spark plugs, windshield wipers, filters, fluids and oil during your own, deeper-dive inspections – but you should also get on a quarterly or biannual schedule with a trusted mechanic to look at stuff like belts and alignments.
Don’t do what’s not necessary. There are some items that you don’t need to worry about anymore unless the manual specifically calls for them – for example, changing filters (some of which, like air filters, can be blown clean and only replaced every other oil change), flushing an automatic transmission more than the manufacturer’s recommended interval, draining radiators and cleaning fuel injectors.
Don’t try to keep it all in your head. Modern parents (unless they have Rain Man-level skills) are sure as heck not trying to keep little Jimmy, Timmy and Suzy’s various schedules straight using brainpower alone – Jimmy would end up waiting in the rain at the football field and Suzy and Timmy would never make it to their oboe lessons.
Similarly, you don’t need to wake up in a cold sweat at 2 a.m., trying to remember which vehicles are due to be in the shop this week and the last time you checked Vehicle No. 6’s coolant.
Fleet management software can keep track of maintenance schedules for each vehicle, sending reminders for preventive maintenance based on past services or mileage, and letting you set alerts for maintenance based on engine on-time, mileage or dates. It can even track engine diagnostics and send an alert when a code is thrown. Software also integrates with your other scheduling and planning tools, like Google Calendar.
Some of you may feel like your trucks are like your babies, and you wouldn’t let your kid’s health rely on the overloaded brains we’re all constantly working with these days. Fleet management software can help you rest easy, knowing that it will keep an eye on the maintenance schedule for all vehicles – and while it won’t remind you when it’s your turn to grab Jimmy, Timmy and Suzy from school, it will help keep your four-wheeled babies healthy and happy.
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Check out our blog to learn about a few vehicle maintenance tips that may not be top of mind!