Preventative Maintenance Checklist
One of the most important things you can do for your fleet is to train your drivers to perform a thorough pre-trip inspection. This pre-trip inspection should be transferred onto a Driver’s Inspection Report and handed in to the fleet manager. It is also equally important to have a list of components to check while your vehicle is having a routine service check-up.
This list should be customized specifically for your vehicles. A good preventative maintenance shop will work with you to help create a checklist tailored to your fleet of vehicles. While your vehicle is already scheduled to be off the road for service, it’s important to check your belts, hoses and other components that are subjected to wear and tear. This allows you to address a problem before it becomes more serious, unsafe and more costly.
Also, if you can make the repairs while the vehicle is scheduled to be off the road you’ll save time by not having to schedule another appointment or have an unexpected breakdown. This can be very costly, not only do you tie up the vehicle, but you also tie up the driver with the vehicle, delaying deliveries or service to your customers. To top it off, you will likely be on the hook for a tow charge.
To Repair or Replace?
There is no hard and fast rule to determine when a vehicle should be retired. There are different factors used to determine if the replacement of a vehicle is warranted—cost, safety, image, driver retention and cash flow. There are times when a vehicle requires more repairs and becomes less dependable or it becomes unsafe. Sometimes a vehicle starts to look a little worn out and projects a poor image of your company. Attracting and retaining top drivers can also be affected by a rundown fleet.
The bottom line is that worn out vehicles are more expensive and less dependable, and at some point you will get a diminishing return on any investment you make on that old truck. When faced with a major repair on an older vehicle, a simple cost/benefit analysis that compares the annualized cost of a new vehicle against that of the vehicle in need of repair can help you make the determination.
A Road Service Plan
When all else fails, have a plan to service your vehicles when they breakdown. Not all vehicles that breakdown need a tow. In fact, typically we have found that more often than not when a vehicle breaks down in route, it’s usually something minor like a battery, a clogged filter or a worn out belt and can be repaired on site. Having a roadside assistance plan for your fleet is a necessary part of running a smooth operation—it can keep your vehicle and driver from being sidelined.
There are some questions you might want to ask before you choose a roadside assistance provider. Find out what types of vehicles they work on. For example, you wouldn’t choose a company that specializes in repairing gasoline engines when you have a diesel fleet.
It’s important to know if your roadside assistance provider is available 24/7, especially if your fleet is on the road 24/7 as well. It’s important to know what type of repairs they can make on the roadside. Usually when a driver calls and describes the problem to you, it’s you that has to make the decision to send out a tow or a roadside assistance vehicle.
You should know whether or not the roadside assistance vehicle is equipped with a compressor. If they are equipped with a compressor, then they should be able to handle most tire changes. Also do they carry some parts onboard? If they are able to carry some popular items like fuel filters and batteries, it would cut down on your downtime.
What areas do they cover? Some RSA providers will cover a certain radius around their facility, so you need to make sure that your fleet travels within that radius. Other RSA providers will cover an extended area that might include multi-states or might they might associate themselves other RSA providers in other states in order to accommodate their own customers.
Last but not least—what is their cost? Some will charge a minimum of one to two hours, some will charge a door to door mileage charge that can cost from $1-$2 per mile. Some of the hourly rates range from $79-$110 per hour. You need to know what you are being charged so that you can make an informed decision on choosing the right RSA provider for your fleet. In the end, it’s is truly a “team effort” to maintain your fleet in an efficient way at a reasonable cost.