How to Get a Handle on Fleet Maintenance

Whether you are new to fleet management or have years of experience, it is good to go back to the basics occasionally. The fall of the year, when you are winterizing your fleet, is a great time to re-introduce yourself to the fleet.

Know your Fleet Assets

This is a simple check of your current records. A fleet management system or spreadsheet will help to organize your notes and to give you a handy reference for the physical inspection. Here is what to check:

  • Unit number, unit purchase date and vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • License number and date of annual renewal
  • The PM or Oil Change Cycle for each unit
  • Average weekly miles traveled or hours operated for each unit
  • When was the last PM or Oil Change
  • Maintenance receipts and records, including totals

Once this is done, benchmark these costs against those for similar vehicles. Be sure to make note what appears to be higher than average in any category of fuel MPG, tire replacement costs per mile and general maintenance. You now have a comprehensive overview of the fleet records.

Inspect the Actual Vehicles

You have made a list of each unit in your fleet, now you need to make a visual inspection of each one. It is best to have a helper as you check the following:

  • Walk around each vehicle noting any damages, broken glass and missing parts.
  • Have a helper operate the high and low beam headlights, turn signals and brakes while you observe the actual function.
  • License plate number and year.
  • Compare VIN number to your records.
  • License receipt in the vehicle and compare numbers.
  • Current insurance card in the vehicle?
  • Any required safety equipment that should be in the vehicle
  • Condition of upholstery and carpet.
  • Insure all the instruments function and the windows work
  • Seat belt condition and accessibility
  • Current odometer (compare with your records)
  • Tires - tread depth, air pressure, unusual wear patterns and damage. Check lug nuts for signs of rust.
  • Fluid leaks in the engine area
  • Wear on the drive belt
  • Fluid level and filters
  • Note any problems

This process should certainly renew your personal investment in the fleet condition and ensure that you have a reference point for each vehicle going forward. With the notes you have made combined with any photos you have taken, you are ready to update your Fleetio records. The important information gathered during this process will help you in making decisions about ongoing maintenance. You can now:

  • Develop a schedule of PM/Oil Changes based on current information.
  • Project future PM costs based on mileage traveled weekly per vehicle.
  • Schedule corrective and preventive repairs based on the observations.
  • Predict tire replacements for vehicle based on known current wear.
  • Be better prepared to make repair decisions.

About the Author

Jim Russell is an accomplished and seasoned fleet manager having over 20 years of experience in a variety of influential roles. He currently consults on fleet maintenance as well as general business operations and sales. You can reach him via email at if you need help optimizing your fleet.

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