Your company vehicles are assets and need to be managed as such. That means regular scheduled maintenance and cleanings. However, there can be a problem when the cars and trucks are scattered around the country and driven home each night by salespeople, executives and other company drivers. Daily work schedules that require a lot of traveling keep your company vehicles in high demand. The driver, knowing it isn’t his own car may forego regular maintenance as he relies heavily on this readily available transportation. This is why each company car user needs to be aware of and adhere to a strict policy of caring for the vehicle.
When fleet vehicles stay on company property after use, the business owner or fleet manager needs to be aware of each vehicle’s age, mileage logs and prescribed maintenance schedule. All this requires good record keeping and diligence in scheduling each vehicle for needed maintenance and repairs. The reliability of your service fleet relies on it. A poorly maintained vehicle may break down at a time when it’s needed most and render an important work task impossible to complete.
Fundamentally, a company should only keep a fleet of vehicles when it is profitable to do so. A cost-benefit analysis will determine whether an organization needs to provide cars and trucks to certain sales or service workers or rely on employees to use their own vehicles on company business. In the latter case, a set car allowance or mileage reimbursement is usually paid to those employees.
There are obvious benefits to owning and maintaining company vehicles; the convenience of ready transportation, asset value, tax-reducing depreciation, employee morale and advertising value. Any vehicle with painted lettering or a vehicle wrap can be an effective rolling billboard ad for your business.
Assuring your corporate transportation assets of long service life and maximum return on their investment requires you to follow a program of fleet maintenance. The best bet is going by the owner’s manual for each make/model and sticking to the scheduled maintenance recommendations for every vehicle your company owns.
Changing the oil every 7,500 miles is fine for most cars and light trucks. Ignore the Quick Lube promoted 3,000 mile recommendations. That may be good for the quick lube businesses but it’s bad for your budget. Two other vital engine fluids that are often forgotten are engine coolant and transmission fluid. Sometimes referred to as anti-freeze, which is a misnomer, engine coolant breaks down and can slowly leak to below proper volume levels. The system needs to be flushed and changed with fresh fluid at least every 40,000 – 100,000 miles depending on the year/make of the vehicle. The same is true for transmission fluid. All the car’s moving parts and vital components need to be inspected for wear at certain intervals and, again, the scheduled maintenance section in the owner’s manual is your guide.
One Company’s Best Fleet Practices
Following are the best practices used by a courier service that maintained a fleet of 180 vehicles. The company had a full-time fleet manager, four mechanics and its own maintenance garage.
- Keep the same driver assigned to the same car so that he or she gets used to driving it.
- Assign each driver a personal identification number (PIN) for buying gasoline so you can keep track of how much each driver uses. Fleet cards such as Wex or Comdata make this simple. They are good at most gas stations in the US regardless of the brand.
- For every 100 drivers, you will need an additional 15 vehicles in the fleet to replace cars that are out of service because of accidents or major overhauls.
- Have someone other than the driver inspect the car for damage at the beginning of each shift and at the end of each shift to be sure all accidents get reported.
- Keep the vehicles professionally cleaned, inside and out, because drivers take better care of clean cars.
- Keep a log of how many new parts and labor costs you put into a car.
- Some cars may be driven over 400,000 miles but there comes a point when it’s more cost-effective to buy a new one.
- When you retire a car, dismantle it and keep the parts to use on the cars that still are running. There may be more value in the usable parts for your running vehicles than in selling the whole car or junking it.
- If and when you do decide to sell your company cars, the cash value will be optimal for clean, well maintained vehicles.
More fleet maintenance tips offered from other companies are available online from the Louisville Business First journal in an article aptly named Keeping fleet…
Professional Drivers offers expertise and full service for commercial fleet vehicle relocations. We also provide inspections and accurate valuations of pre-owned vehicles along with remote purchasing agent services.
Business Contact: Tony Bellefond (214) 444-7544 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org