When you are behind the wheel of a Class 8 commercial motor vehicle, safety is paramount. Yes, you need to get your load to its destination, but more than anything, you need to get it there safely. One of the most important factors in operating a safe tractor is ensuring it is properly maintained.
Maintenance needs can also be reduced by purchasing the right size and right vehicle for the job. If you want your work trucks to perform their best and get you and your freight safely from one destination to another, maintenance is a key component. But what is a truck driver or fleet manager to do to ensure this paradigm is followed?
Listen to Your OEM
There is a reason why OEMs make recommendations. When it comes to maintaining your truck(s), OEMs know best. Still, since recommendations can change from year-to-year, it is important that trucking companies know and keep up with the changes. Always make sure you are following the OEM-recommended schedule and use your trucks according to the job they were purchased for. Out-of-route or tough jobs shoehorned for a truck they weren’t built for can accelerate maintenance problems or create unnecessary safety issues.
Listen to Your Dealer
The second-most-important bit of advice you should listen to is that of your dealer. The dealer you purchased the vehicle from and take it to will have the most recent diagnostic and repair information on file. Your technicians should have access to this information. Furthermore, make sure your dealer is asking the right questions. They should want to know how their customers are going to use the vehicles so that they can provide proper advice and insight.
Listen to your Third-Party Provider
Are you a fleet that uses a third-party provider for your maintenance needs? It is up to you to stay on top of what they are doing and ensure you are regularly getting in touch with them. If you are using a third-party provider and they are not staying current with OEM recommendations, it could create greater maintenance costs if repairs mount because your provider is keeping up with the latest information.
Listen to you Truck Drivers
Consider who will be on the front-line using these vehicles: Your truck drivers. Truck drivers can and should directly influence your buying decisions. Truck drivers also have a clear understanding of how the vehicles operate. When you involve your front-line employees on making your buying decisions, it only enhances your overall safety and performance efforts. Don’t shortchange yourself by leaving your truck drivers out of the decision-making process.
Correlate Hours and Forms
You should be carefully looking at your odometer readings to determine when maintenance is due. Even more, you should also be looking at engine hours. You should also be reviewing inspection forms. Both factors will give technicians a good idea of where they are at in the maintenance chain. Your fleet should always be conducting preventative maintenance. If you are completing unplanned repairs, you aren’t doing it right.
This may seem simplistic but choosing the right commercial motor vehicle for the job is critical. Considering the number of hours and miles you need to get out of that vehicle, the last thing you want to be doing is shooting yourself in the foot because you did not choose wisely. In addition to choosing the proper vehicle, your maintenance schedule should also sync up with your route and vehicle application. Doing your due diligence by properly researching the vehicle(s) you need will save you big headaches down the road.