fleet maintenance services mn

What is Fleet Maintenance? A Complete Guide

When you’re in the trucking and transportation industry, fleet maintenance is – or definitely should be – an important part of your day-to-day routine. After all, your fleet is the lifeblood of your operation and if even one of your vehicles is off the road, it can mean losing out in both productivity and profitability. 

Plus, if your fleet isn’t operating in tip-top condition, you could be putting drivers and other motorists at risk from a safety perspective and leaving yourself open to liability. So how do you manage fleet maintenance? What are the benefits of fleet maintenance? And finally, how do you implement a preventative maintenance program for your fleet? 

We’ve got all the answers you need to keep your fleet running smoothly and efficiently.


What is fleet maintenance?

Let’s start by defining what fleet maintenance is. Put simply, fleet maintenance is a part of overall fleet management – and a pretty big part, too. In fleet maintenance, owners, managers and operators develop thorough and detailed processes to ensure that all vehicles in the fleet are in good condition, fully operational and ready to hit the road safely and reliably for the long haul.


What are the benefits of fleet maintenance?

The old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is true when you’re talking about physical health, but it’s equally accurate when discussing the health of the vehicles in your fleet. In other words, the benefits of fleet maintenance are countless and if you take good care of your vehicles, your vehicles will take good care of you for many years to come. Here are a few of the key reasons to implement a fleet maintenance program:

  • Reduced repair costs As a trucking and transportation industry professional, you’ve undoubtedly run into situations where a vehicle in your fleet has developed a major problem seemingly out of the blue. And repairing that unexpected problem probably came with a hefty price tag, right? The best way to avoid spending exorbitant amounts of money on repairs – the costs of which are rising every year – is to do everything in your power to ensure your fleet stays healthy on the front end. With a solid fleet maintenance program in place, you can do just that, and while you’ll be spending more money up front, the savings you’ll reap down the road are certain to pay off in the end.
  • Reduced operating costsOperating costs related to deferred maintenance can add up really, really fast. For example, engines that aren’t properly maintained can burn up to 50 percent more fuel and tires that aren’t inflated correctly can reduce mileage by up to 10 percent. Put those two costs together and you could find your expenses skyrocketing – and that’s only the beginning. By implementing a comprehensive fleet maintenance program, you’ll be taking a huge step toward reducing your operating costs and increasing your bottom line.
  • Ensured complianceState and federal inspections are par for the course in the trucking and transportation industry. However, during these inspections, many fleet operators discover they’re not in compliance, and it’s often because of something relatively minor and easily fixable, which can be incredibly frustrating. This is yet another reason that establishing a fleet maintenance program is critical – not only will it prevent these simple violations from happening in the first place, it can also help you keep your vehicle on the road while avoiding the costly fines associated with a failed inspection.
  • Improved safety Trucks and trailers are the biggest vehicles on the road and if something goes wrong behind the wheel, it can be dangerous for everyone. While a fleet maintenance program can’t prevent every accident, it can go a long way toward nipping any potential safety issues in the bud. In turn, by keeping your fleet’s accident count low, you can reduce your insurance premiums and strengthen your reputation in the industry as an operator that values safety.
  • Increased vehicle longevity – Let’s face it – large vehicles like trucks and trailers aren’t cheap and if you’re not maintaining them well, they’re not going to be able to go the distance when you need them most. By implementing a preventative maintenance program that includes a regular service schedule, you can extend the lifespan of your fleet considerably, saving you the aggravation and expense of having to constantly be shopping for new vehicles.


Fleet Maintenance for Trucks vs. Smaller Vehicles

fleet maintenance blaine brothersWe all rely on our personal vehicles to get us where we need to go and we understand that in order to keep them running smoothly, we need to make sure that we stay on top of preventative maintenance. That means keeping an eye on tire pressure, checking fluids, and scheduling regular service appointments. You can think of fleet maintenance in the same way, just on a much larger scale. 

Trucks have a lot more moving parts than smaller vehicles do, which means there’s greater potential for something to go wrong if they’re not inspected properly. Additionally, many truck parts are extremely complex and they require the skills of expertly trained technicians to maintain them correctly. In other words, you can’t simply pop into a local quick lube shop like you would with your car – you need to get service at a place where people know what they’re doing. Finally, trucks are heavy-duty workhorses that are driven more than 100,000 miles a year on average according to the Federal Highway Administration. 

All that wear and tear takes a toll on a truck – and fast. While a smaller vehicle can get away with infrequent maintenance and still be relatively safe to operate, trucks need constant upkeep to keep them running at their best.


How to implement a preventative fleet maintenance program

Without a road map (or these days, a navigation system), it’s pretty difficult to find your way to your destination – and to know what you should be looking out for along the way. This is something to keep in mind as you develop your preventative fleet maintenance program

Just think of it like a road map that’s designed to guide you on your journey and ensure every vehicle in your fleet arrives at the finish line safely. Here are some steps you can take to begin putting your plan into place:

  • Step one: Assess the condition of your entire fleet. Do a thorough inventory and status check of every vehicle in your fleet. Gather up all the historical data you have including documentation of purchase, owners’ manuals, service records, inspection records, maintenance, parts replacement history, and any other relevant information. Then, document the vehicle’s current stats including fluid levels, mileage, tire pressure, etc. This will help give you a clear picture of your fleet and can help guide your maintenance efforts going forward.
  • Step two: Make a service checklist. Using the information you gathered in step one along with your general expertise as an industry professional, create a detailed checklist of all the preventative measures needed to keep your fleet operating at its best. Items on your list should include:


–   Checking tire quality and pressures

–   Cleaning air filters

–   Checking and changing fluid levels including coolant or antifreeze, engine oil, brake fluids, transmission fluids, power steering fluids and keeping an eye out for leaks

–   Monitoring electrical system connections

–   Inspecting steering and suspension systems

–   Inspecting brake systems and replacing pads and rotors when needed

–   Checking and changing driveshafts, CV joints, belts and hoses

–   Checking the overall condition of the vehicle

–   Inspecting the exhaust system

–   Testing seat belts

–   Testing heating and air conditioning systems

–   Performing general tune-ups


  • Step three: Empower your operators. Your drivers know your vehicles better than just about anyone and therefore play an important role in maintaining your fleet. Operators should be tasked with doing a basic inspection at the beginning and the end of their shifts and reporting any issues they see – or hear. Whether it’s checking out the vehicle’s overall condition or paying extra attention to anything that seems off mechanically while they’re driving, the input they provide can be invaluable in heading off potential problems at the pass.
  • Step four: Set a maintenance schedule. It’s not enough to simply write out a list of preventative maintenance activities. That would be too easy, right? Instead, you need to create a schedule to ensure that each item is taken care of at the proper time. Not sure where to begin? Your owners’ manuals are a good starting point as they will provide the manufacturers’ recommended service intervals based on whether the vehicle is operating under normal service or severe duty. With many fleets operating on the severe end of the spectrum, especially these days, you’ll likely need to perform preventative maintenance more often to ensure the safety of your vehicles. To determine when your vehicles need to be serviced, it’s helpful to use baseline metrics such as fuel usage, operating hours or mileage. For example, once your vehicle hits 1,500 operating hours, that will alert you that it’s time to perform routine maintenance. Or you could say “it’s been 2,000 miles since our last service. Time for the next one!”
  • Step five: Invest in fleet maintenance software. If keeping track of the maintenance schedule for one vehicle seems challenging, think about how difficult it is to manage an entire fleet. That’s where fleet maintenance software comes in handy. Not only can it provide real-time alerts on when it’s time to have your vehicles serviced, it can also help with other tasks such as licensing and registration tracking and insurance claims management. Plus, you can use the software to quickly generate reports that can help you analyze your operations and identify areas where improvements can be made.
  • Step six: Monitor your data. Implementing a comprehensive fleet maintenance system is great, but if you’re not tracking outcomes, you’ll never know whether it’s working as well as you intended. This is why it’s critical to set up some benchmarks that will help you measure your successes and find places where you can do better. One of the key metrics you’ll want to track involves the number of unscheduled maintenance activities versus scheduled maintenance activities being performed since implementing your new system, though there are plenty of other insights you can gain from monitoring your data. Is your fleet’s lifespan increasing thanks to your efforts? Are you having fewer issues with compliance? Use your software to help you keep tabs on where you’ve been as well as where you are now and see what your data is telling you. As they say, the numbers don’t lie, and in this case, they can help you make solid decisions for the future.


quality reefer repair in Twin Cities MNCall the Fleet Service Specialists

Ready to start implementing a fleet maintenance program but aren’t sure where to start? Let the fleet maintenance experts at Blaine Brothers help. 

As the premier fleet maintenance company in the upper midwest for more than 40 years, Blaine Brothers works with companies of all sizes and we’re dedicated to providing top-notch, competitively priced and customized services that are guaranteed to keep your fleet running smoothly, safely and efficiently. 

From our dedicated account owners to our safety and compliance team to our expert technicians, each one of us is 100 percent committed to helping you succeed. To us, that’s just how business should be done.  Contact us today to find out how we can help you maximize your fleet’s potential.

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