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Proper fleet maintenance brings safety, savings
Maintaining a fleet of company vehicles, whether cars for sales reps or delivery trucks, requires a proactive approach. Waiting until the vehicle breaks down to have it repaired makes no more sense than waiting until a car is out of gas to refill the tank.
Simply stated, people don't treat company vehicles the same way they treat their own cars and trucks. Rapid acceleration, abrupt stops, flying over speed bumps and ignoring tire pressure are not unusual when an employee is driving a company-owned vehicle.
Ensuring the safety and drivability of a frequently abused company vehicle requires more than oil changes and tire rotations at the local quick lube. A dedicated fleet service center with fleet service experience will continually watch for safety and drivability problems.
As with personal vehicles, minor problems become major expenses when ignored. By taking a proactive approach, the vehicle remains in service more often, has a longer life span and is less costly to operate.
Tracking your fleet vehicle repair expenses
When measuring vehicle ownership cost, maintenance and repair expenses should be calculated on a cost-per-mile basis. There are two important factors to consider with the cost-per-mile viewpoint: The better a vehicle is maintained, the lower the cost per mile will be over the life of the vehicle, and cost per mile tends to increase with vehicle age.
When the cost per mile actually begins to increase is often a function of how well the vehicle has been maintained and driven.
By tracking maintenance and repair costs on a cost-per-mile basis, an accurate picture can be developed of the most efficient maintenance program, which will provide valuable input into vehicle replacement intervals.
Planning your fleet maintenance
The manufacturer's service recommendations are based on "normal" driving habits. Fleet vehicles with multiple drivers normally fall in the "severe duty" category and will require more frequent service intervals. This is where the difference between a quick-lube shop and fleet-maintenance specialist becomes noticeable. Where a quick lube shop will simply change the oil and filter, a fleet technician will do a thorough inspection of the vehicle each time to identify future service and safety problems. They also will keep detailed service records required for warranty service.
Automotive fleet repair Safety and perception
Controlling automotive fleet ownership costs requires a commitment to maintenance and repairing minor problems before they become major repairs. The second component of cost control is driver behavior - driving safely and sanely keeps the vehicle safe and in good condition, not only for users of the vehicle, but the safety of other drivers.
Before turning the keys over to a company driver, be sure the company's policies and expectations are understood. An important component is having a notification process if a problem is noticed in the operation of the vehicle. Unreported problems don't get repaired, compromising the safety and reliability of the vehicle.
Then, there are the public image perceptions. A poorly maintained vehicle with squealing brakes or billowing smoke makes a negative statement about your business. Likewise, when an employee drives carelessly, the perception left with the public is that your company is careless.
Company cars and trucks are often a business necessity and can prove to be a source of positive public awareness. To get the most out of these vehicles, keep your fleet serviced on a regular basis and coach drivers on the necessity to drive them as if they are their own.
By Terry Hyden - 8/27/2007