Downtime is a fleet manager’s worst nightmare. When vehicles are out of commission, it costs money in terms of lost productivity and repairs. In fact, one study pegs the annual loss at around $3.3 billion industry-wide. In this blog post, we will discuss four ways to minimize downtime and keep your fleet running smoothly!
1. Keep vehicles well-maintained
Fleet vehicles need to be well-maintained in order to run smoothly and minimize downtime. There are a few key things that go into this process, including:
Regular tune-ups and oil changes
Most semi-trucks should receive an oil change every 10,000-25,000 miles. However, this may vary depending on the type of truck and how it is used. Trucks that do a lot of stop-and-go driving may need to be changed more frequently. It’s important to consult the truck’s owner’s manual for specific recommendations.
As for “tune-ups,” we mean a range of maintenance tasks that are designed to keep the truck running smoothly. This may include things like changing the air filter, spark plugs, and fluids. Once again, it’s important to consult the owner’s manual for specific recommendations. Following the recommended maintenance schedule helps ensure that your truck remains in good condition for years to come.
Tire inflation and tread monitoring
Tread depth on a semi-truck tire is important because it helps the truck to grip the road and stop. The minimum tread depth for a semi-truck is 4/32 of an inch. To measure tread depth, insert a penny into the tread with Lincoln’s head facing down. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, then the tread depth is less than 4/32 of an inch and it is time to replace the tire.
Anything above 6/32 of an inch is considered safe. When inspecting for proper tire inflation, use a tire gauge to check that the pressure in all tires is at 80 psi. This is considered “safe” because it helps to prevent blowouts and excessive wear on tires.
The braking system on a semi-truck is critical to the safety of the driver and other motorists on the road. Semi-trucks require more frequent brake service than other types of vehicles because of their size and weight.
A semi-truck brake service typically involves inspections of the brake pads, calipers, discs, and fluid levels. Brake pad thickness should be checked monthly, and the pads should be replaced when they reach 3/32 of an inch in thickness.
The calipers, discs, and fluid should be checked at least every six months. If any problems are found during the inspection, the brakes should be serviced or replaced as soon as possible.
Establishing and keeping up with a regular preventive maintenance schedule will make it easier to take action. If you stay on top of these maintenance items, your vehicles will be less likely to experience unexpected breakdowns.
2. Educate Drivers on Proper Vehicle Care
Many drivers are proud of their vehicle knowledge. They’re particularly proud of “knowing” the truck they’re driving after logging several successful trips under their belt. You can be respectful of the pride they take in your vehicles, but you also need to temper that with the reality of how the truck is engineered.
It never hurts to schedule some one-on-one time with your fleet maintenance provider, whether in-house or using the team of pros at J&A Fleet Maintenance. Knowledgeable mechanics can educate drivers on proper vehicle maintenance without talking down to them.
A good rule of thumb is to schedule a sit-down every six months so you have a good run of data that you can pull from the vehicle. Being able to point to your analytics and explain the driver’s behaviors and how that plays a role in wear and tear will give the driver the tools he needs to improve how he handles each trip.
3. Use Quality Parts and Fluids
Quality parts and fluids make a tremendous difference in the performance and life of the engine. Many oils, for example, have additives that can help clean the engine and protect it from corrosion. But some of these additives are better than others, so you need to have someone on staff knowledgeable enough to know your vehicles are getting the very best.
The same goes for parts. High-quality parts are designed to meet or exceed the standards set by the original equipment manufacturer. That means they’ll fit better and last longer, and in some cases, perform better.
4. Plan for Unexpected Repairs
Unexpected repairs happen. It’s easier to deal with them when you’ve planned ahead. Create a contingency fund to cover the cost of repairs that pop up unexpectedly. Have a plan in place for finding and fixing the problem quickly so you can get your vehicle back on the road.
If you’re a fleet operator or heavy-duty truck driver, J&A Fleet Maintenance can help keep your vehicles on the road and help you create preventive maintenance plans for your entire fleet. We provide quality truck and trailer repairs, preventative maintenance, and 24-hour roadside assistance. Contact us today to learn more about our services!