Maintenance is a costly component of managing a fleet. Technological advances in vehicles often mean less frequent trips to the mechanic, but more expensive ones. Studies show that maintenance costs have remained flat for the past two years across industries. But as a fleet manager, bringing overall maintenance costs down is a constant concern and the number one priority should be avoiding unexpected equipment failures that could cost time, money and, most importantly the safety of operators.
COMPOUNDING MAINTENANCE COSTS
Preventative maintenance is one of the most important aspects of managing any fleet. If properly executed, it can drastically reduce the costs of operating a fleet over time. Unfortunately, properly executing a maintenance schedule can be a tricky task. Error-prone manual vehicle reports, negligence, and misplaced priorities are all things that can lead to the neglect of preventative maintenance.
Oil is quite literally what keeps a vehicle running smoothly. It lubricates the many moving pieces in an engine, preventing both friction and overheating. So what’s the big deal if you miss the scheduled oil change by 1,000km or so? The longer oil is used, the more it loses its lubricating properties and transforms into a black sludge rather than a viscous golden liquid. Thus becoming more likely to clog and seize your engine. The result of all this is a hefty engine replacement bill worth thousands, which could have easily been avoided if the maintenance schedule had been adhered to.
Buying a new set of tires for any fleet vehicle can be costly; therefore extending the life of every set is of the utmost importance. As a general rule, tire rotations should be done every 2nd or 3rd oil change depending on the load and function of the vehicle. Not rotating tires can have several lasting effects on a vehicle. Firstly, the tread of the tires on the drive train will degrade much faster than those not on the drive train. And if that vehicle happens to be 4×4, most auto shops will insist on replacing all four tires instead of just the two that are worn down, further increasing the cost. Additionally, if the front end of the vehicle is misaligned, irregular tire wear will further amplify the misalignment. Don’t worry though, all this can be avoided with a simple tire rotation which is very inexpensive and in many cases, free.
Every driver dreads the squealing or grinding noise associated with the need for new brakes. Buying new brake pads is a necessary cost regarding the safety and efficiency of a fleet. But if your drivers are hearing one of those noises, it might be too late. Grinding or squealing is usually associated with the complete degradation of the brake pad, meaning the fleet vehicle is being stopped by the metal on the calipers that hold the pad. If this is the case, then not only do the brake pads need replacing, but the rotors (and potentially calipers) would need to be replaced as well. This could triple the cost of a standard brake job, so it is critical that brake inspections be performed on schedule to prevent costly repairs.
ADDED COSTS OF COMPOUNDING
As illustrated, if not performed punctually, each of the above preventative maintenance practices can have a direct cost attached to them. But similarly to how each maintenance issue can compound negative effects on a vehicle. Those negative effects compound even further onto the health of the company as a whole. The more time a vehicle spends in the shop, the more time that asset remains out of the field, which reduces productivity as well as customer satisfaction.
Maintenance schedules can become confused. If your schedule is based on kilometers traveled, then many things such as innocuous errors in reporting, conflicting priorities, and even negligence can all cause preventative maintenance to fall by the wayside. Titan GPS can help fleet managers by creating automated maintenance tracking based on key dates, odometer benchmarks, or engine hours. Titan GPS will then alert drivers and fleet managers of upcoming maintenance, keeping a fleet-wide record of service activity for simple reporting. All with the goal of protecting operators, extending vehicle & equipment life, and reducing liability risk.