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Shifting from reactive to proactive maintenance

Feb. 22, 2023
Having a comprehensive plan to keep vehicles on the road before they break down is critical to fleets, making proactive maintenance a must for fleet managers.

A fleet manager’s duties can seem never-ending. But perhaps no task is more critical to the job than overseeing a comprehensive fleet maintenance program. Not only does a strategic, methodical maintenance program ensure that every vehicle in your fleet remains road-worthy—it can also protect the safety of your employees.

A certain amount of wear and tear on any vehicle is inevitable. But you can keep the rate of vehicle deterioration in check with proper preventive maintenance—a far more cost-effective tactic than reactionary maintenance. Being proactive can save your business time and money, reducing the incidence of breakdowns, costly repairs, and downtime.

Preparing and implementing a proactive fleet maintenance program can be daunting, but the results are more than worth the effort. If you’re ready to take that step, below are a few recommendations to get you started.

Be realistic

Regular maintenance only works when it’s done thoroughly. That means you need a team in place that has the time and ability to follow your preventive maintenance schedule to the letter. Can you realistically handle this ongoing task with the resources you currently have? Or do you need to consider additional assistance?

Remember the basics

Staying on top of basic maintenance like oil and filter changes, tire rotations, and battery testing can have a significant impact on the longevity of your fleet vehicles. Not only that, but taking a proactive approach to these tasks will help prevent or delay more costly problems with your tires, engine, etc., saving you downtime and money in the long run.

Consider regional and vocational factors

Understanding the impact your environment and industry may have on your vehicles should play a significant role in how you shape your preventive maintenance schedule. Will your fleet operate in frigid winters that could freeze the battery? Are your vehicles hauling heavy equipment that will strain shocks and struts? This information can help you identify and resolve issues before they become costly or dangerous.    

Spend money to save money

It may be tempting to delay vehicle maintenance when you’re limited on time or budget, but kicking the can down the road can be costly. For example, foregoing a preventive policy of replacing your vehicles' drive belts after 100,000 miles could save you some money in the short term, but doing so can also increase breakdowns. Just one vehicle with a broken drive belt can lead to downtime, a stranded driver, tow fees, and worst of all—missed customer appointments.

Lean on a partner for help

If a lack of time and personnel are your barriers to implementing a proactive maintenance strategy, you may want to enlist the help of a fleet management company (FMC). The right FMC will take the time to understand your business and the specific expectations you have of your vehicles. Then, they'll combine those findings with their knowledge of OEM recommendations and industry benchmarks to build a proactive maintenance program that keeps your fleet in peak condition.

The reality is, being proactive with your fleet maintenance is the easiest way to optimize your vehicles’ safety, reliability, fuel efficiency, and life. And that is well worth the investment.

David Kidwell is product manager at Mike Albert Fleet Solutions, a provider of fleet optimization strategies for clients  that minimize their fleet’s total cost of ownership, elevate their customer loyalty and brand image; and achieve their business and sustainability goals.

About the Author

David Kidwell | Product Manager

David Kidwell is a product manager for Mike Albert Fleet Solutions, a fleet management organization that handles fleet leasing, management services, and upfitting.