Any successful maintenance program needs preventative fleet maintenance for their commercial vehicles. When your vehicle receives preventive maintenance, it’s typically inspected, repaired, and maintained to prevent defects from forming so an accident or violation doesn’t occur.
If a business only brings vehicles into the shop when something is needed, it’s no longer preventive, but reactionary instead. Reactionary maintenance is primarily based on failure. For example, if you notice that something has failed on your vehicle, you will get it repaired. Reactionary maintenance often leads to costs for equipment that sits idle as well as downtime.
This is why preventative fleet maintenance is so important. You can schedule inspections and repairs and fix any issues which are at or approaching the cut-off point, allowing you to keep your vehicles moving, prevent accidents and violations, and be able to initiate repairs on your schedule.
Preventive maintenance is a widely-held philosophy not just because it reflects the conservative attitude of utilizing one’s assets wisely, but because it can save you money. It’s pretty tough to argue with that. Performance standards for a maintenance shop will begin to change from getting repairs done quicker to getting fewer repairs as preventive maintenance starts to take hold.
It’s important that you are aware of federal regulations which require orderly inspections, repairs, and maintenance. But the details are left entirely up to you.
Preventive Maintenance Scheduling
The maintenance part of preventive maintenance is comprised of standardized and scheduled maintenance and inspections sometimes called the vehicles’ service or scheduled service. Preventive maintenance is primarily allocated as A, B, C, D, E, F, and so on. The preventive maintenance, as well as the time required, starts to increase in complexity as you make your way down the list from A, B, and etc.
Preventive maintenance can also be called a safety inspection or maintenance check-out consisting of lubricants, safety checks, and even checks of important components such as fluids, tire inflation and condition, lights, and brakes. In addition, it includes adjusting and checking components that experience major wear and tear. A normal interval for service “A” is somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 miles on heavy-duty and medium-duty vehicles and somewhere between 1,500 and 2,500 miles for light-duty vehicles.
Preventive maintenance is typically scheduled at half of an oil change interval for most vehicles.
As a side-note, there are some companies which prefer to use an inspection lane and perform service “A” each time the vehicle comes into the maintenance facility.
Preventive maintenance for service Bs include all of the service performed on A items as well as a filter and oil change and closer checks of the driveline and engine. A normal interval for service “B” is somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 for heavy-duty and medium-duty vehicles and somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 for light-duty vehicles. Preventive maintenance for Bs should also include action on any trouble problems or codes as reported by the ECM and a download of the actual ECM itself.
Preventive maintenance for service Cs include all of the service performed on A and B items and more comprehensive service on driveline or engine component replacements or inspections, DOT annual inspections, scheduled component replacements, and alignments. “C” services are generally scheduled on an annual basis. To ensure the services are performed in a timely and efficient manner, it’s not uncommon to have carriers schedule them every 11 months.
Preventive maintenance for service Ds are either a replacement of a key part such as the axle, transmission, or engine or a special service. Some examples of special services include scheduled upgrades or seasonal services like winterization. The scheduling of D services vary by company along with the “D” nickname which might or might not be used. Take a look at our Pre-Winterization Fleet Inspection Checklist.
Companies will continue to use a lettering system centered around their needs by going as far as the letter “L” on the alphabet.
Pre-service inspections should be applied to any equipment that’s new to the fleet regardless of whether the equipment is used or new. If a truck is used, a “C” level service and preventive maintenance inspection is often recommended and preferred. In addition, all accessible bolts, nuts, and adjustments such as front-end alignment, dash screws, motor mounts, bell housing bolts, axle nuts, hub nuts, and lug nuts that are not normally checked during a “C” level inspection should be adjusted, retorqued, and inspected. It’s critical that you develop pre-service checklists of the components you consider to be important.
New trucks benefit from this process too. Because everything is brand-new, you might not be as concerned about the vehicle’s overall condition, but you’ll still want to ensure that everything is properly torqued and located. You’ll also need to ensure that everything you’ve specified is on a line-setting sheet as well as on the vehicle itself. You will then want to check the serial and model numbers and sizes of each component and log them into a recordkeeping system.
Pre-service inspections should even be done on inactive vehicles that have not been used for a long time because of accident repairs, unavailability of drivers, or extended maintenance.
You need to consider pre-service checks as an integral part of preventive maintenance and put quality mechanics in charge of these tasks. Managers who only desire a superficial check can use a less expensive employee. No matter which method you choose, it’s advantageous to use an employee who is detail-oriented.
You must also come up with some pre-service standards according to your equipment that’s in the vehicle. Line-setting sheets give you a frame of reference to work with while you’re determining which checks need to be performed so you can develop your list from there. In a sense, this checklist should be one of the first service documents for your new truck as well as a regular quality control reference. Or you might want your line-setting sheet to include grades and quantities of tire pressures, belt tensions, or fluids added.
The next decision you must make is whether you would like to bring the vehicle back to the maintenance shop for a brief follow-up after the pre-service inspection. While the procedure may seem unnecessary to some, it’s wise to catch problems before they occur. Follow-up inspections are part of the investigation because your vehicle should not be fully in service until after this step has been completed. The maintenance department will not be able to mimic the vehicle’s operational environment that it will be operating in. Letting your vehicle operate in that environment during the investigative stage will allow any impending issues with your vehicle to be dealt with head-on.
On occasion, a dealership representative is present during specific phases of the pre-service inspections which can be beneficial should something need to be altered by the manufacturer of the vehicle.
Likewise, if you have any trailers, they should be inspected as well. New trailers should go through the same inspection process. Trailers are often neglected and don’t always receive pre-service checks. However, federal regulations require trailers to undergo regular maintenance just like trucks and tractors do.
Contact us today for a free fleet maintenance cost analysis and see how our fleet management service can improve performance and lower costs.