Keeping a fleet of cars serviced is a big job. Fortunately for fleet managers, there is much that can be done to make this operation successful. The following are some important tips to assist you in that effort.
1) Preventive Maintenance (PM) – This cannot be minimized and it covers many areas. An article by Patrick Bartole, “How to Implement a Fleet Preventive Maintenance Program” delves deeply into the topic. Preventive maintenance involves regularly scheduled servicing, inspections and repairs to prevent problems, reduce vehicle breakdowns, and extend vehicle life. The maintenance schedule can be based on mileage, time, engine hours or gallons of fuel used. Remember that if a vehicle becomes unsafe to due lack of PM, fingers will point to the fleet manager and he could even be prosecuted for negligence if an accident results from this. Proactive maintenance is always less expensive than reactive maintenance. An efficient PM program should involve a checklist of tasks, a designated service interval, an automotive facility with trained professional service technicians, and manual or electronic recordkeeping. PM can include: engine oil and filter changes (fuel filter every two years or 24,000 miles); fuel system; transmission fluid; cooling system; engine and transmission mounts; drive shafts or CV joints; belts and hoses; tune-ups; electrical system components; braking system; steering and suspension system; tire rotations/inspections, wheels, and rims; alignment checks; exhaust system; undercarriage and frame; exterior and interior lights; body, glass, and mirrors; windshield wiper system; horn; seatbelts and seat structures; fluid leaks; and auxiliary systems. In this era, fleet managers really need a computerized system to track their vehicles and gather information on all aspects of fleet management to aid in their decision making. The required hardware can be acquired with the assistance of the IT department or an outsourced IT expert. Software systems from companies specializing in fleet management software can be purchased.
2) Driver Responsibilities – The driver takes an active role in fleet maintenance and as such, he/she needs to be trained and held accountable for failing to inspect and report vehicle problems. He needs to know what action to take if the car needs repair or is involved in an accident. He needs to be regularly monitoring tires, making sure they are properly inflated as this affects tire wear, fuel mileage, and vehicle handling. Remember the effect of air temperature with the changing seasons on tire pressure. Checking safety features such as the brakes, wipers, and the horn cannot be minimized. Be on the lookout for engine conditions such as rough idle or misfire. Other tips for the driver include keeping the gas cap tight and secure, washing and polishing the car to preserve its finish, checking the coolant, taking action if a leak is suspected, checking lights, and testing the battery.
3) Monitor Total Cost of Ownership – Notice when vehicle costs start to mount due to age. Comprehend the manufacturer’s warranty coverage—this can save on maintenance costs. Know the trends in the used vehicle market and the residual value of the vehicle.
4) Spec vehicles properly – Take into account the demands each vehicle will face. Some may encounter “severe duty” such as towing a trailer, excessive low-speed driving, use by multiple drivers, and off-road operation or in dusty conditions. Under-spec’ing a car can lead to future maintenance issues while over-spec’ing increases immediate costs.
5) Develop a relationship with the fleet maintenance provider – Establishing a solid relationship with your fleet maintenance provider is important. If you encounter an unexpected situation, they can often assist by expediting repairs.
Contact Terry Shields Toyota, experts in their field with a long history of looking after fleet vehicles. They offer reliable fleet maintenance service utilizing excellent up-to-date technology, and they work quickly!