Want to get the most out of your fleet vehicles? Create a preventative maintenance checklist for each one. Doing so will help your business preserve the appearance, safety, and operational capacity of your most important assets.
In this article, we discuss what goes into a good preventative maintenance checklist and give you a comprehensive example to get you started.
Table Of Contents
What Exactly Is Preventative Maintenance?
Preventative maintenance is the theory and practice of monitoring the condition of a vehicle and making necessary repairs before an issue spreads to other systems.
As the name suggests, preventative maintenance seeks to prevent the catastrophic — and more expensive — damage that can sideline a vehicle for days or even weeks. It basically comes down to spending a little now so you don’t have to spend a lot later.
In many cases, preventative maintenance involves a lot of small checkups performed on a regular basis that keep the vehicle in good working order. That’s where the preventative maintenance checklist (or PMC for short) comes into play.
Most PMCs are based on three important variables:
- Age of vehicle
- Total mileage
- Date since last service
Depending on what your fleet does on a daily basis, a combination of the last two variables will form the foundation of your PMC.
For example, a semi that is only in service three days a week will benefit more from a date-based PMC. If you put it on a mileage-based PMC, many months may pass before it amasses enough miles to reach inspection triggers.
On the opposite side of the coin, a semi that is on the road six or seven days a week will benefit from a mileage-based PMC. If you put it on a date-based PMC, it may amass double or even triple the recommended miles before the next inspection.
The Complete Preventative Maintenance Checklist
After looking over this general checklist, go through the owner’s manual for each different type of fleet vehicle and incorporate their advice into the process. Every vehicle is different, and each owner’s manual will have specific service recommendations based on mileage or age.
If you operate semis, they may need to have their U-joints greased even more often because of the heavy loads they pull. It all depends on what the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) suggests.
Once you have a PMC in place for each type of commercial vehicle (e.g., Ford Transit, Ford F-350, Kenworth T680), tweak the details for each individual commercial vehicle (e.g., Ford Transit #1, Ford Transit #2, Ford Transit #3).
Depending on how they’re used, individual vehicles will develop their own unique needs. For example, Ford Transit #1 may do well on the manufacturer’s recommended oil change schedule, while Ford Transit #2 may need more frequent oil changes.
Don’t be afraid to alter the preventative maintenance checklist below if you find that something else works better for a particular vehicle.
Daily Preventative Maintenance Checklist
Implementing a daily maintenance checklist is one of the best things you can do to keep your commercial fleet in good working order. It only takes a few minutes to complete and helps get your drivers familiar with the various systems of the vehicles they’ll be operating.
Before heading out on the road for the day’s runs, your drivers should:
- Walk around the vehicle looking for anything that’s out of place
- Check for body damage
- Examine the tires for uneven wear
- Verify that the tires are inflated to the right pressure
- Put air in the tires if need be
- Look under the vehicle for fluid leaks (i.e., wet spots on the ground)
- Examine the engine for fluid leaks (i.e., wet spots where they shouldn’t be)
- Visually check for wear on the fan belts
- Check the oil
- Verify that engine coolant is at the proper level
- Check windshield washer fluid
- Inspect the brake linings
- Verify that the turn signals work
- Verify that the brake lights work
- Verify that the hazard lights work
If any of the fluid levels are low, train your drivers on the proper procedure for topping them up.
This may seem like a lot at first, but the majority of the steps are quick visual verifications that only take a few seconds to complete.
Once the vehicle is running, warmed up, and ready to go, have the drivers verify that the gauges on the dashboard (e.g., fuel level, oil pressure, engine temperature, transmission temperature, etc.) are all within acceptable levels.
If the driver discovers an issue while going through the daily preventative maintenance checklist, they should report it to the fleet manager or fleet mechanic immediately.
Monthly Preventative Maintenance Checklist
One thing you’ll notice about the preventative maintenance checklist from here on out is that each milestone contains some form of the previous milestone plus other tasks. This helps you ensure that the essential systems of the vehicle are always working properly.
In most cases, the monthly PMC can be performed by the driver as part of their pre-trip walkthrough so the vehicle doesn’t have to be taken out of service for a trip to the mechanic.
- Check the air conditioning
- Check the heater
- Inspect the engine and cabin air filters
- Fill coolant if necessary
- Check engine oil (fill if necessary)
- Change lightbulbs on exterior lights that are malfunctioning
- Check tire pressure
- Top up windshield washer fluid
- Examine windshield wipers and replace if necessary
- Inspect wheels and rims for damage
If drivers find issues with systems such as the air conditioner, heater, or windshield wipers, you may choose to send them out anyway — depending on the climate in which you operate and the weather for the day — and then take the vehicle out of service when they return.
If, however, drivers find issues with the air filters, fluids, lights, or wheels and rims, it’s best to switch vehicles so that the problem doesn’t spread to other systems.
Quarterly Preventative Maintenance Checklist
From this point forward, your preventative maintenance checklist should be conducted by a trained fleet mechanic so that everything stays in tip-top shape.
- Inspect automatic transmission for cracks, loose brackets, and missing bolts
- Clean corrosion on battery terminals
- Charge or replace battery
- Repair any body damage
- Replace cracked, frayed, split, or glazed belts
- Replace cracked, nicked, or bulged hoses
- Check power steering fluid
- Examine undercarriage and frame for damage
- Change engine oil
- Inspect windshield for chips and cracks
As your fleet mechanics run this PMC, encourage them to keep an eye out for other issues that aren’t on this list and to address those problems on an as-needed basis.
Depending on what the technician finds during the quarterly PMC, vehicles may be out of service for anywhere from a few hours to a full day.
Biannual Preventative Maintenance Checklist
Every six months, run the biannual PMC in addition to the quarterly PMC. Steps in this portion of the checklist include:
- Check and fill brake fluid
- Inspect brake pads, liners, and master cylinder
- Test main and auxiliary electrical systems
- Check exhaust system for leaks and noise from under the exhaust manifold
- Examine seat belts for frays or other damage
- Test horn
- Check pressure on spare tire and examine for leaks
- Test shock absorbers
- Test wheel bearings (listen for snaps, click, pops, or grinding when wheel is spinning)
- Check wheel alignment
The biannual PMC is more involved than the quarterly version, so vehicles will likely be out of service for at least a day — maybe two or three depending on what the technician finds.
Annual Preventative Maintenance Checklist
At least once a year, subject the vehicle to a comprehensive inspection that includes everything from the previous checklists as well as:
- Check and tighten engine mounts
- Examine the steering and suspension systems
- Rotate tires
- Lubricate all grease fittings including U-joints
This stage of the PMC is usually more involved than the other stages because it includes inspections of some of the large, more complex systems. Because of this, the vehicles may be out of service for anywhere from two days to a full week.
Streamlined Fleet Management
Regardless of what your preventative maintenance checklist looks like, one of the best ways to streamline your fuel and fleet management is with Coast.
Coast provides real-time expense tracking and a powerful online management platform that puts your entire fleet in the palm of your hand and provides full visibility of every dollar spent.
With Coast, your business will enjoy:
- Easy manager access
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For more information, and to learn about everything Coast can do for your business, visit CoastPay.com today.