September 20, 2023
Why Maintaining Your Truck Is Good For Business
As an owner operator, you quickly learn that taking care of your fleet is an important part of the business. And accepting that you’ll always have maintenance and repairs popping up at inconvenient times will help you stay in a proactive mindset when it happens (it’s all about managing those expectations, right?).
Once you have business momentum, it’s crucial to keep that consistency if you can. Maintained trucks help. So, here are the top reasons why it’s important to create structure around this issue and get your vehicles maintained on the regular. One thing we like to do is have a mechanic essentially do a DOT inspection every time a PM is done on a truck to look for potential issues so they can be resolved sooner. Plus, that means you are having work done on your timeline by a mechanic you trust rather than when you are on the road in an emergency.
Keeps drivers safe, keeps your truck safe
The safest vehicles on the road are usually the ones with up-to-date maintenance. Even something as simple as a broken blinker could be a safety hazard and get you a violation from a DOT Roadside Inspection. You lower the risk of accidents or issues (i.e. a tire blowout from a worn tire, engine failure, an expensive lawsuit from an accident, cracked wiper blades during a heavy rainstorm) when you take the time to care for your fleet. In turn, you keep other drivers on the road safe and establish yourself as a safe industry player.
Keeping your fleet secure means your drivers (if you have them) get the impression that you care about their wellbeing on the job. Drivers want to focus on getting the job done well and on time – they don’t want the job to be interrupted by safety issues you could have prevented. Take care of this for them before they hit the road. Not only will it increase trust with your employees, but it minimizes your liability risk when something does happen.
Remember, drivers who have crashes on their records or who don’t regularly maintain their vehicles could get flagged as a high-risk driver on their Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) score. This is basically a safety score that follows a driver around, and you don’t want a high score. When your truck is safe, it’s easier to be a safe driver.
Extends your vehicle’s presence on the road
It’s more efficient to regularly maintain your vehicles than take one off the road for a major fix because you didn’t take the time to check it consistently for a major problem. Now you’re down one less truck without a fixed timeline on when it will be back up and running.
If you have a fleet of trucks, it is wise to stagger your truck maintenance to avoid all of your trucks being off the road and in the shop at the same time. Keep a repair log and create a system for which truck gets checked when and how often. If you don’t want to figure out what to check each time, contact an auto technician who specializes in large trucks and let them take care of the specifics. Whatever system you choose, this will always pay off.
This also means you’re more likely to pass a random Department of Transportation safety inspection, like we mention in this Motor Carrier HQ blog post. The most common inspection would flag any worn-out area or part on your rig and it could get you fined.
Extends the life expectancy of your trucks
The same way going to the doctor for an annual checkup helps maintain your health is equivalent to the same way maintaining and catching small issues with your fleet will benefit the ‘body’ of your business. Catching things early means less emergency issues, which usually impact important things such as your work schedule, getting a job done on time, or having a smooth ride.
Overall, it’s ‘responsible business’ to extend the life of your vehicles by taking care of them. Catching something early also gives you the benefit of minimizing long-term damage to your truck since issues that don’t get timely attention tend to worsen over time. The longer you can economically keep your truck on the road after you have paid it off, the better off you will be financially.
Maintenance saves you money
One of the top benefits of preventative maintenance is that your fleet keeps its value for a longer amount of time. If you catch something early, it’s usually less expensive to fix when it’s a small issue than when it’s grown into a larger, more expensive fix.
You can catch things early by establishing a preventative maintenance timeline and checklist for all of your trucks so that the repairs don’t feel so overwhelming. This includes drivers following the pre-trip inspection each time they go out on a job.
Following a timeline is an easy way to stay organized and keep most surprises tamped down. Plus, spending money up front to maintain things will save you the most money. For example, keeping your tires in shape by checking the tread and pressure will increase the fuel efficiency on the road and prevent premature wear on other parts.
Establishes your business values
You want to be known as the business that shows up on time and does it safely. Getting ahead of unexpected vehicle issues or breakdowns means you’re showing your customers that you’re serious about getting the job done well. Creating this consistency is how you build business credibility. Maintaining your vehicles truly has a far reach on what it can impact when it’s done right. (A bonus here is that regular maintenance helps you avoid possible fines from the federal government and other related organizations for not keeping your trucks safe on the road).
More than anything, taking these steps reflects one of the most effective mindsets of successful owner operators: deliberateness. Haulin Assets Ep. 59 explores why doing things deliberately – whether it’s sticking to a preventative maintenance schedule, strengthening client relationships, or writing down your goals to make them stick – is one of the best ways to move through your business challenges. Deliberateness requires vision and planning, but it’s key to success.
Chris Vernon, owner of Motor Carrier HQ, is featured on the Haulin Assets podcast often as he talks about how he turned his one-truck company into a successful trucking business. Maintaining your vehicles regularly is just one of the lessons he wants readers to learn the easy way. Listen to the podcasts on the road and learn from other truckers by subscribing to each new podcast.
Type of trainings to do: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/national-training-center/large-truck-and-bus-traffic-enforcement