Saving on vehicle maintenance costs is no easy task, especially when it comes to fleet vehicles. According to the Canadian Automobile Association’s (CAA) most recent report, it costs Canadians an average of 3.27 cents per kilometer to maintain a new compact car. Add fuel and tires to the equation and the total number jumps to 14.53 cents per kilometer – and that’s for a brand new vehicle. For fleet managers, the numbers can often be much higher, as you usually need to account for factors such as heavier-duty vehicles, older vehicles, more daily trips, heavier usage, and depending on where you live, extreme weather conditions. All of this can add up to a lot of expenses. With the right systems in place you can bring fleet maintenance costs down, even for the most heavy-duty vehicles.
Here are 10 keys to keep in mind for running a successful and cost-effective fleet maintenance program.
It may seem counterintuitive to take vehicles in for maintenance checks even when they appear to be running in prime condition, but scheduled maintenance appointments are actually the best way to minimize the cost of repairs. Scheduling regular appointments for services like wheel alignment checks, brake inspections, tire rotations, engine performance checks, and tune-ups will help you save in the long run, as unexpected repairs will almost always cost more than regular checkups.
Scheduled maintenance appointments are the best way to minimize the cost of repairs.
Of course, it’s not always possible to catch every problem before it leads to a breakdown. Because of this, it’s always good to have a reserve fund available for unexpected repairs and a trusted service provider who’s always ready to help you out, no matter what the problem is.
When it comes to preventing unnecessary repairs, proper driver training can make a huge difference. By training drivers on how to perform a proper walk around inspection and helping them identify performance issues when they’re out on the road, you can catch many vehicle issues in the early stages before they turn into major problems.
Another way that drivers can contribute to successful vehicle maintenance is by performing basic repairs themselves while they’re out on the road. Instead of calling in a tow truck every time a vehicle has a flat tire or other minor issue, it’s much more efficient and cost-effective to have drivers carry a basic vehicle repair kit with them so they can complete these repairs themselves.
Fuel economy is a big issue for any fleet, and once again, success in this area starts with your drivers. There are a number of little ways your drivers can contribute to better fuel economy for your vehicles, and even with a small fleet, all of these little tricks can quickly add up to significant savings
For instance, it’s crucial that drivers keep their tires inflated to the correct PSI, as properly inflated tires can improve fuel efficiency by up to 3%. Parking vehicles in the shade can also help save on fuel, as parking in the hot sun will cause fuel to evaporate quicker. You can also encourage drivers to finish pumping gas when the automatic nozzle shuts off rather than topping up with extra gas as many people do, as any fuel you add after the nozzle has clicked will often seep out or evaporate.
As a fleet manager, you’re often dealing in large quantities, which can be both negative and positive – negative in the sense that this can lead to a lot of expenses, but positive in the sense that it gives you the opportunity to buy in bulk and negotiate discounts. This can apply to any service you use regularly, from gas stations to vehicle repairs to insurance. Pre-paying and buying in high volumes for some of these services can add to your savings, and because of your position as a high-volume customer, you may even be able to negotiate further discounts.
Fleet management is often a big-picture job, but sometimes it’s those little things that make all the difference. This is especially true when it comes to vehicle maintenance. For example, it’s important that your drivers always tighten gas caps securely, as a loose gas cap can sometimes falsely trigger an engine light, which could lead to unnecessary checkups and downtime for vehicles. Another little thing to pay attention to is vehicle cleanliness; not only does regularly washing and detailing vehicles make your company look good, it also protects your vehicles’ paint jobs, which will save you money on painting services.
With every season comes a new set of challenges, and if you want to stay on top of your fleet vehicle maintenance, it’s important to change with the seasons as much as you can. When switching from winter to summer driving and vice-versa, everything from your tire pressure to your windshield wipers could need attention, so it’s a good idea to bring vehicles in for a full service check at the start of every new season.
While a vehicle’s user manual will tell you what type of motor oil to use, keep in mind that this is the recommendation for a new vehicle under ideal driving conditions. Depending on the age of your vehicles and the type of conditions they encounter, you may want to consider straying from the manufacturer’s recommendation in order to improve engine performance and fuel efficiency. For example, some vehicles will run perfectly well on conventional oil under normal driving conditions, but when they’re being used for towing, they’ll perform much better on synthetic oil. The same concept applies to oil viscosity – while a vehicle might perform well using 10w-30 oil in the summer, it’s often a good idea to switch to a thinner viscosity in cold winter conditions.
Regular oil changes are one of the best ways to ensure a long life for any vehicle, which makes scheduling oil changes one of the most important tasks for any fleet manager. Typically, oil changes are recommended every 5,000 to 6,000 kilometers, but keep in mind that your vehicles may benefit from more frequent oil changes during the summer, or if they’re being used for heavier-duty driving.
To keep your fleet running smoothly, it’s helpful to have a maintenance provider you can trust for many different types of services. That’s why EconoLube offers a full-scale fleet maintenance package, covering everything from tire rotations to seasonal checkups.
We’ll work with you to develop an individualized service plan based on your company’s needs and your fleet vehicle manufacturer’s guidelines. For more information on how EconoLube can help you look after your fleet, email us or call 780-962-1593 today and ask to speak to Paul, our fleet account manager.