Keeping a fleet of trucks running can seem like an insurmountable task, getting more challenging with each vehicle you add to the roster.
One thing that can make it a little easier is to employ active preventative maintenance strategies. Here are 10 preventative maintenance tips to help keep your truck fleet running smoothly.
1. Create a Comprehensive Checklist
Every successful preventative maintenance program starts with a comprehensive checklist. This should include everything from a daily safety checklist which drivers need to complete every day before they start their shift, to a once-a-year checklist for overall maintenance.
The exact details of your checklist will vary depending on the type of vehicle, how often it’s used, and the sort of tasks you use it for. You may also wish to have a separate checklist for each year, make, and model of vehicle in your fleet. While they may have similar requirements, there may be some specifics that vary from truck to truck.
2. Keep Everyone On the Same Page
A preventative maintenance checklist only works if everyone — from drivers and mechanics to managers and business owners — is on the same page.
If you’ve got managers who aren’t enforcing schedules or mechanics who aren’t completing checklists or drivers who aren’t finishing their daily inspections, the whole system falls apart and you end up with broken-down fleet trucks. Make it a point to keep everyone on the same page or you’ll find yourself trying to play both sides against the middle.
3. Teach Drivers How to Recognize Problem Indicators
Everyone knows how to recognize warning lights as they illuminate on the dash, but those aren’t the only potential indicators that can alert a driver that there is a problem long before the truck breaks down.
Things like out-of-character vibrations, strange noises, and other indicators can tell you that something is going wrong, but only if you know what you’re looking or listening for. Include these tools as part of your driver training.
4. Schedule Regular Downtime
Even on strict schedules, there is time for maintenance and downtime. It’s important to schedule regular downtime as part of your preventative maintenance schedule.
If you keep trying to push through, you’ll end up with trucks broken down on the side of the road, which will make it even harder to meet your deadlines.
5. Undertake Fluid Sampling
Checking your oil and other fluids should be part of any preventative maintenance schedule, but while a simple visual inspection isn’t always enough to determine if the fluid needs to be changed.
Fluid sampling and analysis look at your vehicles at the microscopic level, determining if there are any contaminants or underlying issues that you wouldn’t be able to see with a quick glance at the dipstick.
6. Keep Things Lubricated
Lubrication is one of the most often overlooked ways to prevent problems. The average car has over 30,000 parts and so many of those movements that lubrication is necessary to keep things from rubbing together and breaking down. Don’t skip this step as part of your preventative maintenance program. Ensure that everything that needs lubrication gets it.
7. Check Tire Pressure Often
Improper tire pressure can lead to a variety of problems both on and off the road. Overinflated tires are prone to blowout, while underinflated ones can’t grip the road properly, which can lead to accidents.
Tire pressure checks should be part of your driver’s daily inspection and walkaround. If a tire is low, top it off and record it. If it is perpetually low, that could be a sign that there is a puncture or slow leak in the tire itself that needs to be repaired.
8. Use the Correct Coolant and Ratio
According to industry experts, around 50% of engine failures can be directly attributed to poor coolant system maintenance.
Topping off your radiator with water when it’s running low –or worse, peeing it the radiator — can do all sorts of damage to the vehicle. Ensure that you’re using both the correct coolant and the correct coolant-to-water ratio to protect your fleet’s cooling system.
9. Assemble a Report
Finally, don’t let the information that you’ve collected languish in dusty files or forgotten cloud folders. Use everything that you’ve learned during your preventative maintenance to assemble a report that will allow you to keep track of which vehicles might be causing problems and where breakdowns are likely to occur.
10. Use Machine Learning to Your Advantage
If you haven’t adopted machine learning or other similar AI based systems, you’re missing out. These programs can collect your preventative maintenance information and, with enough data, even learn how to predict when problems might occur. Consider adopting one of these systems to help you sort through all the information you’re generating.
Preventative maintenance is one of the most effective ways to keep your fleet running smoothly and prevent it from breaking down in the line of duty. It’s not always easy, but it will save you a lot of money and hassle in the long run.
Oscar Collins is the managing editor at Modded. He writes about cars, fitness, the outdoors and more. Follow @TModded on Twitter for more articles from the Modded team.