Preventive fleet maintenance will save a business time and money. Small businesses running well-maintained fleets save fuel and deal with fewer breakdowns. However, small-business owners still come up short when it comes to fleet maintenance. As a mobile mechanic, I have worked with a number of fleet managers to ensure their fleet vehicles are running their best. Here are a few tips for small-business owners to help make sure fleet maintenance is being done regularly and in an effective manner.
Create a preventive maintenance schedule. Owners should not wait until something breaks to fix it. One of the biggest problems I see is fleet owners wishing we could fix the vehicle while it is driving down the road. I understand the sentiment since a vehicle off the road is not making the business any money. However, I recommend scheduling blocks of time for preventive maintenance. Business owners can regularly schedule in advance when to change fluids, change batteries or check the oil. Many mechanics who work with fleets understand the business and will be willing to conduct jobs after or before business hours.
Change batteries and check brakes frequently. Fleet managers should err on the side of caution when changing their cars’ batteries and checking their brakes. Many fleet managers only change a vehicle’s battery when it dies. However, I recommend changing the battery every three years no matter the battery’s condition. The rationale for this is simple: Businesses can save thousands of dollars in fleet management costs by doing maintenance ahead of time. Waiting to change a battery when it dies means losing money while an inoperable car waits for a new battery. Why not change it ahead of time and save some money in the long run?
Brake maintenance is another area where contractors fall flat during fleet upkeep. I have seen companies lose thousands of dollars due to bad brake maintenance. I recommend having a professional come in and check the status of the cars’ brakes every three months. This scheduled maintenance could be the difference between having to simply pay for new brake pads or having to pay thousands of dollars to fix shot rotors and calipers.
Fleet maintenance is incredibly important, and conducting maintenance properly and frequently can be the difference between a company making money one day and losing money the next day. It’s best to not sleep on maintenance work.
Matt Farnham is a mobile mechanic and owner of Auto Repair 2 You, which specializes in preventive maintenance options that keep fleets healthy.