Guide to Preventative Maintenance for Commercial Vehicles
As per Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations, you are required to “systematically inspect, repair, and maintain all motor vehicles and intermodal equipment subject to its control.”
Whether you have one commercial motor vehicle (CMV) or thousands, the importance of a preventative maintenance program cannot be stressed enough. Not only can this save you time and money for costly repairs, but it can also save you from fines after roadside inspections.
Understanding preventative maintenance
Preventative maintenance is exactly what it sounds like, maintenance to prevent further damage to vehicles. It includes small tasks such as cleaning, checking fluid levels, tire rotation and more. There are also bigger tasks that come with it, such as regularly replacing parts such as tires, brake linings, air filters and windshield wipers. By inspecting these parts and replacing them at their suggested intervals you are saving yourself and your business from major damage and large scale repairs. Preventative maintenance also lessens your chance of vehicle malfunctions sneaking up on you unexpectedly, as you and your team should be aware of the vehicle's condition.
There is a lot that goes into developing a preventative maintenance program, and for many it seems like a complex and costly process. Luckily, there there are several ways to get this program started for your fleet. Here are five steps to assist you in starting your preventative maintenance program.
1. Call a compliance expert to help One of the easiest ways to get your preventative maintenance program started is to reach out to a third party compliance manager and have them assist you. Front Range Compliance Services offers custom preventative maintenance program creations that are specifically designed for you and your fleet, no matter the size. Contact FRCS today to see how we can help you with your maintenance program!
2. Have a list of all of your vehicles Whether you reach out to a third party compliance expert to help you with your maintenance program set up or not, the first thing you will need to do is to have an updated list of all of your vehicles. This includes trucks and trailers. In your stock list, make sure you have note of the following items:
Make, model, and year
Odometer reading (if applicable)
Fleet number (if applicable)
Current and past maintenance schedules for the vehicle
You are required to maintain accurate maintenance records for each vehicle in your fleet. These records must be maintained for at least 12-months while the vehicle is in use and six-months after the vehicle is no longer in use.
3. Identify a schedule for each vehicle If you have a wide variety of vehicle types in your fleet, the complexity of your program only increases as no two vehicles are the same. Your maintenance program will need to reflect this. Your vehicle maintenance will also vary by the capacity in which the vehicle is being used.
It is a good idea to keep track of the routes each vehicle will be taking so that you can plan routine maintenance ahead of time or in between trips. 4. Pre/post trip inspections Sometimes the biggest asset you have to your preventative maintenance program is the driver's Pre/Post Trip Inspections. Your drivers are going to be operating your vehicles every day and will be more familiar with the parts that might need to be replaced. They should also be completing a pre/post trip inspection at the start/end of every shift. This walk around will show them any maintenance that needs to be done, and if there is maintenance to be done to their vehicle they will be filling out a Driver's Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR) to give to your maintenance technicians.
Make sure your drivers are properly trained in pre/post trip inspection procedures and completing the DVIR. If you are unsure if your drivers are completing these properly or want to ensure they are, enroll them in Pre/Post Trip Inspection Training online through DOT University. In this online training they will do a virtual walk around of a CMV, explaining them the proper way to conduct the inspection along with proper DVIR procedures.
4. Document all maintenance The DVIR is a great way to document maintenance that needs to be done and should be kept in the vehicle's file, but as a fleet owner you need to make sure all maintenance being done on your vehicles is being documented. As stated above, vehicle maintenance needs to be kept on record for 12-months. Keeping proper documentation will help you not only with future maintenance but also with potential FMCSA Audits.
There is no way to overstate the importance of preventative maintenance on your vehicles and having a proper vehicle maintenance program in place for your fleet, whether that's one vehicle or a thousands vehicles. If you need help or have any questions regarding preventative maintenance, Front Range Compliance Services is here to help you. Contact us today to see how we can assist you with your maintenance program!
Make sure to check out our online DOT Training platform, DOT University! We are currently offering Reasonable Suspicion for Supervisors, Cargo Securement, Defensive Driving, and Pre/Post Trip Inspection. In the coming months, we plan on releasing DOT Compliance Essentials and Periodic Annual Inspection Qualification Training (Appendix A).
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