Fleet maintenance is now more than ever a mix of fit for purpose (intended use), fit for service (vehicle operation) with a healthy dose of OH&S given in many instances the vehicle is now a workplace (compliance). While scheduled vehicle maintenance typically represents around 5% of total running costs, it has the biggest part to play in ensuring additional (and unbudgeted costs) don’t land in your maintenance spend.
It wasn’t that long ago that vehicle service schedules followed 10,000km intervals but in recent times as manufacturers look to improve the presented total cost of ownership, service schedules have increased from anywhere to an extra 25% (12,500km) and more likely 50% (15,000km) with some European vehicles up to 20,000km.
While largely this increase has been supported by improvements in engine design/ emission improvements, fuel quality and lubricant development, it’s important to remember that regular vehicle inspection and reporting is also an important part of ensuring your responsibilities as the vehicle provider are met. Oil changes and filling the washer bottle are one thing but ensuring brakes are serviceable and the bumpers aren’t hanging off are just as, if not more, important.
Many a fleet manager has had a sleepless night after ‘discovering’ the condition of a vehicle or worse, a large bill arriving for a major component failure due to lack of scheduled maintenance. You’d be surprised at the number of new vehicles not serviced for 20,000 - 30,000km and as a result requiring a $10,000+ engine replacement.
Key points to remember:
- Scheduled maintenance should be a budgeted part of vehicle operation. While not specifically listed in the service schedule this includes components like brakes, tyres, wiper blades and batteries.
- Service overrun is now more critical. A vehicle presenting 1,500km over the due date has still operated 10% over the recommended (and manufacturer warranted) period. All this above the already extended service period that now has less safety margin.
How many other things in your business could you defend if used 10% over the recommended capacity?
- Ensuring your vehicle is serviced as per the manufacturer's recommendations is critical to maintaining your warranty and ensuring you are providing a safe workplace. Your service provider should also check other components (brakes, tyres, wiper blades and batteries) that may not be part of the manufacturer's schedule but are essential for the safe operation of the vehicle. This is important to mitigate your risk as the vehicle provider; you can’t rely solely on staff inspections as they may not be professionally qualified to make an assessment.