Every fleet knows that without maintenance, trucks do not operate properly. And while keeping trucks on the road delivering loads is the number one benefit of maintenance, it is not the only one.
Here are some ancillary benefits of making sure your trucks are maintained on a regular basis.
Driver recruiting and retention
Indications are that the driver shortage is not going to get better anytime soon. And while pay is important to drivers, they have also indicated that the equipment itself is a factor in their decision about which fleet to drive for. We usually think that means drivers want the latest model truck with the most up-to-date technology. That is probably still true, but it has been tempered with the reality that new trucks are in short supply—and the industry is very likely to continue to deal with allocations in the new year. Drivers are well aware of supply chain issues, so while they can't get the latest truck, they want to work at fleets that make the investment in keeping older equipment operational. Drivers want to drive.
Lower fuel cost
There are a variety of components that impact a vehicle’s fuel economy. Things like clogged filers, oil with depleted additives, damaged aerodynamic devices, and wheels that are out of alignment increasing fuel consumption. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, diesel was $5.333 a gallon the week of November 7. Given high fuel prices, even a small improvement in fuel economy results in big savings. Maintenance helps makes sure all systems are operating as they should, thereby ensuring that the truck as fuel efficient as possible.
Avoid CSA fines
A systematic preventive maintenance program means that trucks are getting into the shop on a regular basis so a technicians can complete a detailed inspection, uncover problems, and fix them before they are found during a roadside inspection. While the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance announces some scheduled safety blitzes like Brake Safety Week and International Roadcheck, most inspections are a surprise and random. If a violation is severe enough, the vehicle can be taken out of service. But even a minor violation results in a ding to a fleet’s safety rating.
Fewer roadside breakdowns
While it is next to impossible to avoid all roadside breakdowns, a good maintenance program allows technicians to spot developing issues and take care of them. This should lead to fewer breakdowns. When a truck breaks down, the cost to repair it escalates, especially if the vehicle is not near a fleet’s shop or normal service provider. There are often towing costs involved, not to mention missed deliveries and unhappy drivers.
Better company image
A truck broken down on the side of the road or being towed down the highway does not do much for your fleet’s image, and missed delivery windows lead to dissatisfied customers. Well-maintained trucks showcase your fleet in a favorable light. While it is hard to put an exact dollar amount on that, don't discount company image as a reason businesses choose your fleet over another.
The main reason to keep your vehicles maintained is to make sure that when the driver gets in the truck, it will start and stay running for the duration of his shift. The good news is that beyond that benefit, there are five other benefits you reap when you focus on maintenance.
Jane Clark is vice president of member services for NationaLease. In this position, she is focused on managing the member services operation as well as working to strengthen member relationships, reduce member costs, and improve collaboration within the NationaLease supporting groups. Prior to joining NationaLease, Clark served as area vice president for Randstad, one of the nation’s largest recruitment agencies, and before that, she served in management posts with QPS Cos., Pro Staff, and Manpower Inc.