You own your own fleet—or you’re deciding whether or not to invest in a fleet—and now it’s a game of figuring out how to make the trucks’ working-lives last. If you aren’t able to keep the fleet in good shape to increase longevity, you’ve lost on that initial investment of buying trucks already. The best way to save on your investment is to keep your fleet running well, for as long as possible, by keeping up on routine maintenance and repairs.
Know what the manufacturer recommends and why.
Each make and model of truck and trailer will require specific maintenance pertaining to the engine type, the kind of traveling the truck will be doing (mountainous, humid, long vs. short trips), how hard the vehicle will be pushed. Talking to the manufacturer about their suggested maintenance will give you a better idea of whether you should be performing maintenance more often than they generally suggest. Keep in mind: when trying to sell the trucks to your company, manufacturers could exaggerate about the trucks’ ability to perform over thousands and thousands of miles. That’s why, once you decide on a fleet, you need trained servicing employees to keep an eye on the trucks.
Hire employees that know the fleet better than anyone else.
Owning your own fleet, you can’t risk the health of your trucks based on the opinion of someone who isn’t directly invested in their longevity. That’s why you need mechanics on staff who know what kind of conditions the trucks are facing, how long they should go between servicing, and how each individual truck has tended to perform in the past. This is a big investment. But it’s worth the time and training necessary.
The other benefit of hiring employees just for your fleet is that they’ll know the history of the vehicle, know what problems they’ve had in the past, what replacements have been made, and what kinds of problems the truck might face in the future. Often, outside mechanics will provide a list of what maintenance has been performed, but the best way to know your trucks, to know how they’ll perform, is to hire staff that work with the fleet every day.
Fix what’s working.
You’ve heard the old age adage that you “shouldn’t fix what isn’t broken.” Well, when you’re trying to increase the life and efficiency of your fleet, that proverb doesn’t necessarily hold true. With maintenance, the goal is to catch the problem before it happens. For example, you don’t want your engines running harder because your air filters are at mid-to-high level capacity. Rather, you want to replace the filter before causing strain on the engine. The game of maintaining your own fleet requires a vigilance of finding ways to make your trucks healthier before any strain—or worse, problems—occur on their routes.