Beyond Oil Changes: Online Guide to Essential Preventive Maintenance Checkups

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Introduction

In managing trucks and heavy-duty vehicles, preventive maintenance is crucial for ensuring operational efficiency and safety.

In this article, we’ll discuss the essential preventive maintenance practices and offer best practices for effective fleet management.

Discover the key strategies for maintaining a high-performing fleet, ensuring reliability, and minimizing downtime.

Table of Contents

Preventive Maintenance Checkup Non-Negotiables

A fleet repair tech performing preventive maintenance on a heavy duty vehicle
Preventive maintenance is non-negotiable for ensuring efficient fleet management.

Running preventive maintenance checkups is pretty much non-negotiable. Without it, you can’t guarantee the safety, efficiency, and longevity of larger vehicles, such as trucks and heavy-duty vehicles.

But not everything maintenance teams do is vital. Knowing what should go on your driver vehicle inspection reports and what shouldn’t won’t just help your company. It will keep your drivers safe and save you a mountain of headaches from problematic assets.

Specific maintenance requirements vary depending on the vehicle’s make, model, usage, and operating conditions.

Still, several non-negotiables apply across the board.

Here are some critical preventive maintenance checkup tasks that should not be overlooked: 

  • Engine Oil and Filter Change —  Regularly changing the engine oil and filter is step one to protect your engine from wear and tear. This also helps ensure it runs smoothly. The frequency can depend on the type of oil used and the vehicle’s operating conditions.
  • Fuel System Inspection —  The fuel injectors, pumps, and filters for blockages or wear should also be a part of every maintenance checklist. It helps keep fuel efficiency and engine performance so your vehicles don’t muzzle up more gas over time.
  • Cooling System Check —  Check your cooling system for leaks because these can lead to severe problems for your vehicles, drivers, and finances. Keep your coolant levels at bay and replace them regularly to prevent overheating.
  • Brake System Inspection —  Keep an eye on your brake pads, rotors, drums, and fluid. Replacing them as needed could distinguish between seamless operations and unwanted mishaps. Brake lines should also be inspected for any signs of leakage or corrosion.
  • Tire Inspection and Rotation —  Tires tend to wear, damage, and deflate, that’s not news. So, monitor them as regularly as possible, ideally daily, especially for high-use vehicles. Regular tire rotation can slow down tire wear and extend the life of the tires.
  • Steering and Suspension System Check —  Inspecting the steering and suspension systems for wear or damage can prevent handling issues and ensure the vehicle’s safety.
  • Battery Performance Check —  To avoid breakdowns, test the battery for proper charging and holding capacity, especially before the winter season.
  • Transmission Fluid and Filter Change —  Regular checks and changes of the fluid and filter can prevent transmission problems and extend its life.
  • Electrical Systems Check —  Checking the electrical systems, including lights, horns, and wiring, is necessary for safety and to prevent electrical failures.

There are other preventive maintenance items to include in your checkups, but this is a good starting point.

Add more as needed, but try to focus only on the essentials. If you have too many on your checklist, it can also slow down preventive maintenance operations.

Tips for Better Preventive Maintenance Checkups

A fleet manager reviewing preventive maintenance checklists
Incorporate these tips to enhance your preventive maintenance checkups.

Here are some tips to enhance your preventive maintenance checkups:

1) Leverage Technology for Maintenance Scheduling

Times are changing, and we now have the power of technology to enable our fleet management operations.

You can implement fleet management software to automate maintenance scheduling and save your maintenance team time and effort. 

These systems can track maintenance history and forecast future needs. Use one that is intuitive, although most systems should meet that standard.

Even people with the easiest majors now know how to use work and management-related software.

2) Implement Asset Tracking

Having asset tracking technology to monitor your vehicles’ real-time location and status has many advantages.

They help schedule maintenance checkups based on vehicle usage and operational demands rather than just time intervals or mileage. You can also use them to monitor official usage and avoid unnecessary trips. 

Analyze data from onboard diagnostics (OBD) and telematics to identify trends and predict potential failures before they occur.

This proactive approach can prevent costly repairs and downtime.

3) Prioritize Driver Safety

Fleet management software isn’t only for the company’s advantage. They can serve your drivers, too. 30% of companies with fleet management use it to prevent driver fatigue and exhaustion. 

By monitoring driver hours, you should also include fatigue management strategies in your preventive maintenance program. We recommend this because it ensures compliance with regulations and avoids accidents caused by tired and unfocused drivers.

4) Establish a Rigorous Inspection Routine

Even with technology, you need solid human habits, starting with a rigorous inspection schedule.

Make a comprehensive and systematic inspection routine that covers all critical vehicle components, such as brakes, tires, engines, and electrical systems. Your company should stick to this routine religiously to catch any issues early on.

Pay special attention to critical components that are more likely to wear and fail, such as brakes, tires, and the engine.

Regular checks and maintenance of these components prevent major failures.

5) Keep Detailed Records

Maintain detailed records of all maintenance activities, inspections, repairs, and driver reports. This documentation can help track the vehicle’s health over time and make informed decisions about maintenance and replacement.

6) Engage in Preventive Replacement

Replace parts that are known to wear out within a specific timeframe before they fail. This approach can be more cost-effective than waiting for a part to fail and dealing with the subsequent downtime and repairs.

Customize Your Maintenance Plans to Your Advantage

A fleet manager and repair technician going over their preventive maintenance routine and scheduling
Choose a fleet management software that enables customizable preventive maintenance plans.

Understand that not all vehicles are used in the same way. Customize maintenance plans based on the specific use case, environment, and demands of each vehicle in your fleet.

Understand that every fleet management department and company has its own needs.

Tailoring your processes and software to your needs helps you achieve your desired objectives– whether extending vehicle lifespans, protecting your drivers, or all of the above.

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