One of the best ways to maximize fuel economy, yet one of the most frequently overlooked approaches, is making sure that your vehicle is well maintained. Routine maintenance is there for a reason: to help your vehicles continue to run in tip-top shape. This is true for all vehicles, including passenger cars, but it is especially true for fleet vehicles, which see much more wear and tear than the average personal vehicle.
There are a number of things that are frequently repaired or replaced during scheduled maintenance, such as:
• Oil and oil filter
• Transmission oil (or fluid and filter)
• Air filter
• Spark plugs
• Spark plug wires
• Distributor cap and rotor
• Oxygen sensors
• Belts and hoses
Replacing all of these things on time helps to keep your fleet vehicles running smoothly. Skipping any of these can cost you money by leading to a decrease in fuel economy, or by leaving a driver stranded on the side of the road – resulting in late deliveries and your driver being paid for several hours of doing nothing but waiting for a tow truck.
Keeping up on your vehicles’ maintenance doesn’t have to be difficult. There are some things that are so quick and easy that your drivers can do it. For instance, checking regularly for proper tire inflation, and fixing any underinflated tires, can lead to as much as a 3 or 4 percent increase in fuel economy. Having your drivers change their air filters likewise can cause anywhere between a 2 to a 6 percent increase, depending on how dirty the old filter was.
As for bigger scheduled maintenance, such as oil changes and tune-ups, you can easily keep track of what your vehicles have had – and therefore, what they will need next – by assigning each vehicle its own fuel credit card. These cards can usually be used to pay for maintenance as well, and since most fleet cards have detailed reporting systems to aid fleet managers in record keeping and other tasks, you can use the cards to track each vehicle’s maintenance history.
However you decide to keep on your vehicles’ required maintenance, don’t make the mistake of trying to save money by skipping scheduled repairs. In the long run, it will never work. By not taking care of your vehicle, you are actually likely to spend more money over the long run, because you start having to put more fuel in the truck, not to mention you risk more breakdowns and tire blowouts. On the other hand, when you get repairs done on time, you will actually see a return on your money as your trucks continue to run reliably and get just as good fuel economy as the first day that you got them
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