Preventive maintenance (PM) consists of scheduled servicing, inspections, and vehicle repairs to prevent potential problems and maximize vehicle availability. Preventive maintenance is used to proactively avoid or reduce vehicle breakdowns and is based on time, mileage, engine hours, or gallons of fuel used. Preventive maintenance actions include vehicle inspection, lubrication, adjustment, cleaning, testing, repair, and/or worn parts replacement.
Why be Concerned with Preventive Maintenance?
To maximize the availability of vehicles, PM services must be performed on a scheduled basis. If preventive maintenance is not performed regularly, vehicle life span will be greatly reduced.
Some vehicles may be prone to excessive breakdowns requiring expensive repairs, causing a vehicle to be out of service when least expected and possibly when needed most. Vehicles may become unsafe due to lack of PM. Proper maintenance will also help prevent litigation from negligence.
Preventive maintenance is as important as driver safety programs. If a vehicle becomes unsafe due to lack of maintenance or repair, the fleet manager can be held liable for negligent entrustment. As defined, liability is premised upon providing an employee with a dangerous tool or instrument, such as a vehicle, while knowing, or having reason to know, that use of the vehicle creates unreasonable risk or harm to others. Simply stated, the vehicle must be safe to operate. Should the brakes fail causing a serious crash or fatality, the vehicle is impounded by authorities for investigation.
Should the investigation determine that bad brakes or other vehicle malfunctions contributed to the accident, the authorities can seek a court order to obtain vehicle maintenance records. If your operation fails to practice preventive maintenance under these circumstances, you could be prosecuted for a negligent act, which you failed to prevent.
Preventive Maintenance Methods
Vehicle maintenance and repairs can be performed in one of two methods:
Proactive: scheduled preventive maintenance.
Reactive: unscheduled breakdown maintenance.A scheduled vehicle service consists of preventive maintenance, scheduled component repairs, and driver inspection. Unscheduled breakdown maintenance is most often due to lack of preventive maintenance. Reactive maintenance can be costly and should be minimized by a proactive preventive maintenance program. The object is to have the majority of vehicle maintenance and repairs scheduled rather than unscheduled.
Developing an Effective PM Program
An effective PM program should consist of the following:
Checklist of PM service tasks performed.
PM service interval or frequency to perform tasks.
Driver written-up inspections and/or complaints.
An automotive facility with trained professional automotive technicians — either in-house or outsourced.
Scheduling and recordkeeping, either manual or electronic.Developing a PM Service Checklist
An effective PM program should include a task list of both preventive maintenance and safety items.
The following should be addressed during a routine preventive maintenance service: engine oil and filter changes; transmission fluid; fuel system; cooling system; engine and transmission mounts; drive shafts or CV joints; belts and hoses; tune-ups; electrical system components; braking system; steering and suspension system; tires, wheels, and rims; exhaust system; undercarriage and frame; exterior and interior lights; body, glass, and mirrors; windshield wiper system; horn; seatbelts and seat structures; fluid leaks; and auxiliary systems.
Manual systems can be tedious and time-consuming to manage, especially for larger fleets. These days, technology is affordable even for the smallest fleet. Computerized systems are a more efficient method for gathering timely reports on all aspects of fleet management. Reports can be generated faster and more accurately, allowing the fleet manager to make timely proactive decisions.
Affordable software systems can be purchased from reputable companies specializing in fleet management software. When it comes to hardware, most companies have an information technology department that can supply fleet management with the appropriate computers or an IT expert can be hired.
Regardless of which scheduling method chosen, it is important to purchase a system that can be customized to your specific application requirements. Depending on those fleet operating requirements, the system should enable you to create customized preventive maintenance schedules, create and track work orders, track fuel usage, record detailed maintenance histories and tire logs, track accident and claims, manage inventory, and monitor labor, invoicing, and stock reports.
Who Performs PM Service?
Preventive maintenance can be performed by either an in-house certified automotive technician or outsourced to a local automotive service center specializing in fleet preventive maintenance with certified technicians using state-of-the-art equipment.
Teach in-house technicians the importance of performing thorough preventive maintenance service. The PM service is only as good as the person performing it; shortcuts must never be taken. The technician must proactively service each vehicle to reduce breakdowns and repairs.
If your fleet operation outsources preventive maintenance, use a local vendor specializing in maintaining fleet vehicles.