When performed proactively, all of these actions can be considered preventive maintenance (PM). Preventive maintenance refers to service work meant to keep a vehicle in peak condition thereby reducing the likelihood of major equipment failures later down the road. In the long run, consistent PM saves fleets significant time and money by taking care of minor defects before they snowball into major equipment failures.
6 preventive maintenance examples
Because vehicles have so many systems and moving parts, a wide variety of service tasks fall under the preventive maintenance umbrella. Here are six PM examples you could expect to see in an average fleet’s preventive maintenance program.
1. Inspection and replacement of filters
If you've ever had to clean a filter on a dishwasher, air purifier or water filtration system, you know how grime buildups can lead to problems. The same holds true for vehicle filters. Most engines require a constant stream of clean air to flow over them to perform at their best. But when air filters become clogged, they often deprive engines from receiving the airstream they demand, resulting in reduced fuel efficiency, greater emissions and shorter engine life.
To prevent such problems, filter checks should be a mainstay of any fleet technician's inspections. Excessively dirty or damaged filters should be replaced immediately while more typical filters can be swapped out every 12,000 to 15,000 miles. As far as vehicle parts go, air filters are among the most affordable, so fleets have little reason to penny pinch with them, especially given their impact on engine performance.
2. Calibration of sensors and gauges
These days, many vehicles come equipped with advanced driver assistance systems (ADASs) made possible thanks to an array of built-in sensors. By analyzing road conditions and the proximity of other vehicles, ADASs do everything from providing blindspot alerts to automatically applying brakes, all in an effort to make roads safer.
Because these sensors are fully capable of saving lives, fleets should periodically calibrate them to ensure they are operating at their best. With the help of specialized calibration units, technicians can test the health and performance of a vehicle's sensors and make any adjustments as needed. Many calibration units actively guide technicians step by step via a built-in display to ensure the entire process follows manufacturer-approved best practices.
3. Scheduled oil changes and fluid checks
When we talk about vehicle parts suffering from "wear and tear," more often than not, we're really talking about friction. From the toughest alloy discovered by man to industrial diamonds, no material in the known universe can withstand friction indefinitely. Vehicle parts are no exception.
So, to minimize premature part failures, fleets should routinely verify that their vehicles are properly lubricated. Fresh engine oil, transmission fluid and grease can go a long way in keeping a vehicle's moving parts operating smoothly. Less friction also means engines waste less power, resulting in improved fuel efficiency and performance.
4. Brake checks and replacements
It should go without saying that, when it comes to the condition of a vehicle's brakes, there's no room for compromises. A vehicle without reliable brakes can in no way be considered safe.
To ensure a vehicle's brake system is in working order, fleets should inspect both its brake pads and brake fluid. Technicians can spot worn out brake pads by eye with little difficulty. Checking a vehicle's brake fluid for water buildup is also rather simple. With the help of a multimeter, technicians can quickly get a reading that indicates if a brake fluid flush is advisable.
5. Inspection of electrical systems
Compared to cars from the past, modern vehicles rely on their electrical systems for just about everything. This means that ensuring their alternator, battery and related electrics and electronics are kept in proper working order is vitally important.
To that end, technicians should thoroughly inspect the electrical systems of every vehicle that enters their garage. From taking a look for obvious damage like battery corrosion or cable fraying to taking voltage readings, technicians should leave no stone unturned. Due to their complexity, electrical systems are notoriously hard to diagnose, so it's in a fleet's best interest to let their technicians take as long as necessary to find and resolve potential issues.
6. Cleaning and inspection of HVAC systems
Over time, an astounding amount of dirt and dust can collect within a vehicle's HVAC system. This can lead to diminished performance, undue strain on electrical systems and premature equipment failures. And in climates with severe summers and winters, it's not an exaggeration to say that unreliable HVAC systems can pose a legitimate safety risk.
To prevent these problems, fleets can regularly inspect their vehicle HVAC systems and clean them as necessary. Light cleanings might only require a can of compressed air and some rags while more thorough cleanings may necessitate removing parts of the HVAC system to flush hoses and wipe down hard-to-reach components. Either way, any steps fleets take to keep their vehicle HVAC systems in pristine condition will be well worth the time investment over the long run.
How preventive maintenance software helps
We only scratched the surface with the preventive maintenance examples covered above. Vehicles are composed of hundreds of parts, many of which require regular upkeep. As a result, keeping track of every maintenance action that needs to be done can be tricky for even the smallest fleets. And as fleets grow, so does this challenge, especially when maintenance personnel only have paper forms or spreadsheets to rely on.
Fortunately, for fleets of all sizes, preventive maintenance software makes staying on top of vehicle upkeep much more manageable. Automatic PM reminders ensure service tasks are never forgotten about. Electronic work orders streamline the process of assigning tasks to technicians. Equipment maintenance log apps make tracking labor time simple. And in-platform communication via comments and push notifications reduce delays and errors that hamper productivity.
Make preventive maintenance a priority
By addressing minor vehicle issues before they snowball into major breakdowns, fleets can dramatically reduce their repair expenses and disruptions from unplanned downtime. And while developing a comprehensive preventive maintenance schedule can be overwhelming without assistance, the right software can make staying on top of vehicle upkeep far more manageable.