Vehicles used for company business can be the most important assets to a business. Vehicles can be used for sales, delivery, and transportation or your company’s own unique usage. Your business must be able to rely on these vehicles in order to perform these critical tasks. A good maintenance program can help to avoid expensive repairs, downtime, or even accidents while ensuring your company’s solid reputation.
Management must be engaged in overseeing the company’s fleet safety program and vehicle maintenance policies. Please refer to the manufacturer’s specifications and maintenance procedures for each type of vehicle while ensuring the vehicle is of the proper size and type for the job it’s being used for.
Elements of maintenance programs
There are three basic elements of a good fleet vehicle maintenance program:
Preventative maintenance―this is generally dictated by the number of miles or hours driven and includes oil changes, tire rotations, checking belts and hoses, wiper blades, engine tune ups, and checking all fluids such as coolants, lubricants, window washer, power steering and brake fluids.
Corrective maintenance―this part of the program is for repairs that are not generally scheduled and may be required suddenly, including lights, turn signals, damaged windshields, wiring, flat tires or other repairs. Many of these repairs can be identified through a well-documented vehicle inspection program. All drivers should be familiar with how to inspect a vehicle and fill out a vehicle inspection report. The report should be turned in to the fleet administrator or maintenance department to have repairs made. If they are not found on an inspection but occur suddenly (such as a broken windshield) the driver should be trained on the policies for reporting and repairing the vehicle.
Emergency maintenance―This type of maintenance is required when there is a vehicle breakdown. Even with a good preventive maintenance program in place, breakdowns can still occur. All drivers should be trained on what to do and who to contact when an unexpected breakdown occurs. Although this is often the most expensive form of maintenance, it can be minimized by implementing a good preventive maintenance and inspection program.
Maintenance equals cost savings
Vehicle maintenance and repair can incur costs above and beyond the actual repair time and equipment. Related costs can include:
- Driver and vehicle down time
- Missed deliveries
- Towing charges
- Costly specialty roadside repairs vs. shop repairs
- Damage to company reputation
- Added staff time to facilitate repairs including possible travel time
Recordkeeping is essential
Vehicle maintenance records should be maintained and kept on file for each vehicle. This would include items such as
- Previous repair or preventative maintenance work done
- Vehicle inspection or condition reports
- Identity of the vehicle (using vehicle number, plate number or other identifying information)
- Driver information especially is assigned to specific drivers
- Future work to be needed based on previous work, inspection reports or demand
- Vehicle recall information
Communication is key
For a maintenance programs to be successful, it must include effective communication amongst all associated employees including drivers, maintenance personnel, and supervisors. All must be held accountable for the condition and use of vehicles, and clear lines of communication need to be established. Periodic review of a company’s existing maintenance program, and the degree to which it is being implemented will help management determine if any program changes or additional training is necessary.
For additional information on this subject and other elements of an effective Fleet Safety program please visit our Hanover Risk Solutions website and have your management team view Hanover’s Organizational Fleet Safety Program found via the following link: Organizational Fleet Safety Program - Overview (hanover.com) This informative presentation is designed to help your leadership team establish the nine key elements of a Fleet Safety Program including:
- Driver qualification
- Driver motivation
- Vehicle maintenance
- Vehicle inspection
- Accident reporting
- Accident investigations
For additional information on commercial vehicle maintenance record requirements please visit the FMCSA website at: FMCSA Part 396 - Inspection, Repair, and Maintenance
Information for this advisory is from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and Hanover’s auto and fleet resources on our website at: https://www.hanover.com/businesses/business-customer-resources/hanover-risk-solutions/auto-safety.
This material is provided for informational purposes only and does not provide any coverage or guarantee loss prevention. The examples in this material are provided as hypothetical and for illustration purposes only. The Hanover Insurance Company and its affiliates and subsidiaries (“The Hanover”) specifically disclaim any warranty or representation that acceptance of any recommendations contained herein will make any premises, or operation safe or in compliance with any law or regulation. By providing this information to you, The Hanover does not assume (and specifically disclaims) any duty, undertaking or responsibility to you. The decision to accept or implement any recommendation(s) or advice contained in this material must be made by you.