Industry Articles

5 Fleet Maintenance Mistakes Costing You Big Time (and How to Avoid Them!)

Written by the Brant Jones Team

Is your bottom line suffering from unexpected breakdowns and costly repairs? Keeping a fleet of heavy-duty trucks running smoothly is important for any successful transportation business. However, even the most experienced fleet managers can fall into common maintenance mistakes that can drain profits and leave your fleet vulnerable to costly downtime.

This guide from Brant Jones, your trusted heavy-duty truck repair specialist, will unveil 5 costly fleet maintenance mistakes and provide actionable tips to help you avoid them. By implementing these strategies, you can save money, minimize downtime, and keep your fleet operating at peak performance.

1. Skipping Preventative Maintenance

The allure of keeping trucks on the road and maximizing revenue can be tempting. Some fleet managers mistakenly believe that skipping preventative maintenance saves money in the short term. They may prioritize keeping trucks running over routine servicing, thinking they can address any issues that arise down the road. However, this approach is a false economy that can lead to disastrous consequences.

Even a minor oil leak, when left unchecked, can develop into a seized engine, requiring a major and expensive repair. Similarly, ignoring worn brake drums during routine servicing can lead to a complete brake failure, potentially causing a serious accident. Preventative maintenance is not an optional expense but an investment for the long-term health and reliability of your fleet.

The key to avoiding this mistake is to develop a comprehensive preventative maintenance plan tailored to your specific fleet and adhere to the manufacturer's recommended service intervals. This plan should include regular servicing that encompasses engine oil changes, tire rotations, brake inspections, fluid checks for vital components like coolant and power steering.

2. Ignoring Warning Signs

Your trucks are complex machines, and just like any machine, they communicate their needs. Unusual noises, leaks, or illuminated warning lights are all signs that something might be wrong. Failing to address these warning signs is a recipe for disaster, allowing problems to fester and become significantly more expensive to fix.

Imagine a grinding noise coming from the suspension. Ignoring this warning sign could lead to a complete component failure, requiring a major repair and extensive downtime. That’s a catastrophic example but damage and wear accumulate if left untouched, still leading to minor repairs and downtime. Early detection and repair of this issue, likely involving worn leaf springs or damaged shock, would be a much simpler and less expensive proposition.

The same principle applies to warning lights on the dashboard. Ignoring a malfunctioning indicator light could lead to a critical system failure, potentially putting the driver and others on the road at risk. In the worst-case scenario, a neglected warning light could contribute to a serious accident or engine failure. When any signs of damage occur, get your fleet of trucks checked out by a professional mechanic. 

3. Failing to Train Drivers on Proper Maintenance Practices

Your drivers are an extension of your fleet and play a vital role in its overall health. Without proper training, they may unknowingly contribute to premature wear and tear on your vehicles. Harsh shifting habits, overloading trucks beyond their capacity, and neglecting pre-trip inspections are all practices that can significantly shorten the lifespan of your vehicles and increase maintenance costs.

If a driver habitually slams on the brakes instead of practicing smooth, controlled stopping this aggressive driving behavior can lead to premature brake wear and require more frequent replacements. Similarly, a driver who consistently overloads a truck is putting undue stress on the engine, drivetrain, and suspension, potentially leading to costly repairs.

The solution lies in implementing regular driver training programs. These programs should cover proper vehicle operation, preventative maintenance checks that drivers can perform during pre-trip inspections, and how to identify warning signs of potential problems. Equipping your drivers with this knowledge empowers them to become partners in preventative maintenance. 

4. Cutting Corners on Parts and Labor

In an attempt to save money upfront, some fleet managers may be tempted to cut corners on parts and labor when it comes to repairs. This strategy can involve using low-quality, aftermarket parts or seeking services from unqualified mechanics. While these options may seem cheaper initially, they can lead to a cascade of problems that ultimately cost you more in the long run.

Here's why cutting corners on parts and labor is a risky gamble:

  • Low-Quality Parts: Cheap, aftermarket parts may not meet the same quality standards as OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts. They can wear out faster, malfunction prematurely, and even cause damage to other components. This can lead to repeat repairs and increased downtime, negating any initial cost savings.
  • Unqualified Technicians: Properly diagnosing and repairing heavy-duty trucks requires specialized knowledge and experience. Unqualified technicians may misdiagnose problems, leading to unnecessary repairs or incomplete fixes. In the worst-case scenario, they could even cause further damage to your vehicles.

The best approach is to invest in high-quality parts from reputable brands. Partner with a qualified and experienced heavy-duty truck repair shop like Brant Jones. 

5. Not Using Technology to Your Advantage

The trucking industry is rapidly evolving, and technology is playing an increasingly important role in fleet management. Many fleet managers still rely on manual record-keeping and scheduling for maintenance tasks. While this approach may have worked in the past, it can be time-consuming, error-prone, and lead to missed opportunities for preventative maintenance.

Imagine a scenario where a crucial oil change or tire rotation is missed due to a simple human error in a paper-based maintenance log. This oversight could lead to a breakdown and costly repairs down the road.

Thankfully, there are solutions available:

  • Fleet Management Software: Explore fleet management software solutions that streamline maintenance schedules, track service history for each vehicle, and automate reminders for preventative maintenance tasks. These digital tools can significantly improve efficiency and ensure no crucial maintenance intervals are missed.
  • Telematics: The future of fleet maintenance lies in telematics solutions. These systems provide real-time data on vehicle health, including engine performance, fuel efficiency, and component wear. By analyzing this data, proactive fleet managers can predict potential problems and schedule preventative maintenance before breakdowns occur.

Utilizing technology empowers you to make data-driven decisions about your fleet's maintenance needs. Fleet management software and telematics solutions can help you optimize maintenance schedules, reduce downtime, and extend the lifespan of your vehicles.

Partnering with Brant Jones for Optimal Fleet Performance

Keeping your fleet operating smoothly and efficiently requires a commitment to preventative maintenance, driver training, and using high-quality parts and qualified technicians. By avoiding the common mistakes outlined above and embracing new technologies, you can significantly reduce your maintenance costs and keep your fleet profitable.

At Brant Jones, our team of certified mechanics is equipped with the latest tools and expertise to handle any repair, from routine servicing to complex overhauls. We understand the importance of keeping your fleet on the road, and we offer flexible scheduling options to minimize downtime. You can get in touch with one of our technicians for quality fleet maintenance. If not fleets, read our article about the impact of tire maintenance to learn tire best practices. 

Contact Brant Jones Auto & Diesel Today!

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