Fleet Management

Fleet Vehicle Maintenance Checklist for Small Businesses

Driver recording delivery on paper

As a small business owner, you know the importance of a well-maintained fleet. No matter if you’re running a fleet of 2 or 50+, your company vehicles are essential to everyday business operations and employees rely on these vehicles to do their job efficiently. But just how do you ensure your fleet is being maintained properly? 

We’ve got you covered.

How do you maintain a fleet of vehicles?

Maintaining a fleet of vehicles requires regular inspections. If an issue is detected in the inspection process, a mechanic is brought in to address the problem and get the fleet vehicle back on the road safely. 

Companies will often implement a vehicle maintenance program to proactively avoid issues and by staying on top of fleet vehicle maintenance.

What is a vehicle maintenance program?

A vehicle maintenance program is also known as a Preventative Maintenance Program. This is a proactive plan put in place by a company to keep their fleet vehicles in working condition and address issues before they become bigger problems. 

Implementing a maintenance program can help reduce overall maintenance costs. Planned services help reduce catastrophic failures and emergency mechanic service fees. This  minimizes unexpected and costly repairs, keeps your cash flow predictable, and makes sure your vehicles stay on the road, making money. 

Business owners and fleet managers can follow a maintenance checklist to detect which vehicles need maintenance or repairs. 

What is a maintenance checklist?

A maintenance checklist is a list of areas on a vehicle that should be checked at various times throughout the year.. A maintenance checklist includes both exterior and interior elements of a fleet vehicle (car, truck, or van) and is part of a commercial vehicle maintenance plan. 

Your complete fleet vehicle maintenance checklist

This comprehensive checklist consists of checks, inspections, and replacements that need to be done every month, three months, six months, and year.

During your routine preventive maintenance checks and inspections, if you notice anything broken, low, loose, etc., we recommend recording and dealing with it immediately. Whether that calls for topping up fluid levels, removing corrosion, replacing a bulb, or scheduling more in-depth maintenance or repairs, make sure issues are dealt with before they become much larger and more costly problems.

Monthly Vehicle Maintenance Checklist

Every month, check the following:

  • Air conditioning: Is it working properly?
  • Air filters – Inspect both the engine and cabin filters. How dirty are they? Do they need to be replaced?
  • Coolant (antifreeze) levels: Is the fluid at the fill line? Top up if needed.
  • Engine oil levels: Is the oil at the fill line? Top up if needed.
  • Exterior lights: Inspect headlights, tail lights signal lights, and brake lights. Check for burnt-out bulbs and any lights that are not working.
  • Tire pressure: Check for wear, tread depth, leaks, foreign objects, and general condition.
  • Windshield washer fluid: Is the tank full? Top up if needed.
  • Windshield wipers: Check for rips, tears, and streakiness. Are they working properly?
  • Wheels and rims: Any damage?

Quarterly Vehicle Maintenance Checklist

Every three months (or 3,000-5,000 miles), do the following:

Check:

  • Automatic transmission fluid and mounts: Is the fluid at the fill line? Top up if needed. Inspect mounts for cracks, loose brackets, and missing bolts.
  • Battery: Check battery terminals, and battery cables. Is the battery charged? Are connectors loose? Is there any corrosion? Charge battery, replace, or clean corrosion if necessary.
  • Body: Any damage? Schedule repair if necessary.
  • Belts: Look for cracks, fraying, splits, or signs of glazing. Schedule repairs if necessary.
  • Glass and mirrors: Any cracks or chips? 
  • Hoses: Look for cracks, nicks, or bulges. 
  • Power steering fluid: Are they at the fill line? Top up if needed.
  • Undercarriage and frame: Any damage? 

Action:

  • Perform an oil change
  • Change the engine oil filter
  • Lubricate the chassis

Biannual Vehicle Maintenance Checklist 

Every 6 months (or 12,000 – 15,000 miles), do the following:

Check:

  • Brake fluid levels: Is the fluid at the fill line? Top up if needed.
  • Brake system: Inspect brake pads and brake lines. Note how worn down they are.
  • Electrical and auxiliary systems: Are they working properly? 
  • Exhaust system: Listen for any noise coming from the exhaust manifold. Check for leaks.
  • Seat belts: Are they working properly? Any damage or frays? 
  • System horn: Is it working properly? 
  • Spare tires: Check the tire pressure and check for any leaks, damages, etc. Request a new tire if necessary.
  • Shock absorbers: Does the vehicle stop bouncing right away after you push down on a corner of the vehicle a few times? If not, it may require some maintenance.
  • Wheel bearings: Listen for snapping, clicking, or popping noises. Or grinding noises when the vehicle is in motion.
  • Wheel alignment: Does the vehicle pull left or right while driving? Check for abnormal wear on the tires. 

Actions:

  • Change the cabin air filters
  • Change the engine air filters
  • Flush the coolant
  • Lubricate the door and hood hinges
  • Rotate the tires

Annual vehicle maintenance checklist

Every year (or 24,000 – 30,000 miles), do the following:

Check:

  • Engine mounts: While in park, watch to see if the engine lifts up while the vehicle accelerates. Do you see any marks on the underside of the hood just above the engine?
  • Steering & suspension system: Does the vehicle bounce or vibrate when it’s in motion? Listen for any noises when going over bumps or turning the wheel.

Action:

  • Replace the brakes

Note: This checklist should be used as a general guide. Each vehicle’s make and model may require a different maintenance schedule. It is best to cross-reference these checklist items with each vehicle’s manual to create the best preventive maintenance plan possible.

Inspect each fleet vehicle

As a business owner, it is essential that you ensure each of your fleet vehicles is inspected on schedule. Whether you’re running the show, or have the help of a fleet manager, make sure to stay on top of these inspections. 

Systems are your best friend when it comes to making sure each vehicle is inspected on schedule. Following a regimented plan for ensuring each vehicle is well-maintained is the most simple way to get the job done. But, business isn’t always as simple as we’d like it to be, is it? When your vehicles are on the road, they’re making you money, so it can be tempting to push the scheduled maintenance in favor of keeping them active. Thankfully, the best systems are flexible!If a vehicle is on the road during an inspection time, be sure to make a note of this and have it inspected as soon as it returns. Alternatively, the driver may be able to perform the inspection using the fleet preventive maintenance checklist provided. 

Schedule necessary maintenance 

Consider having a small surplus of vehicles that are available when others are in the shop. This proactive practice helps maintain  productivity and workflow. If a surplus of vehicles isn’t feasible, try planning  the required maintenance on a day where the vehicle would typically be parked. 

Never skip out on the necessary fleet maintenance. Always make time for this and your vehicles will continue to run smoothly.

Keep a record of fleet vehicle history

In addition to performing regular checks and maintenance, it‘s important to keep a detailed and organized record of each fleet vehicle’s history. Knowing the following information will help strengthen your vehicle maintenance plan: 

  • Mileage and purchase price of each vehicle
  • Previous maintenance
  • Previous repairs
  • Any accidents or incidents

Can vehicle tracking software help?

Managing a fleet of vehicles is a big responsibility, especially for a small team. Using technology helps make any business owner or fleet manager’s job much easier. Technology like vehicle tracking software can help grow your business and keep fleet vehicles operating in their best (and safest) condition.

Force by Mojio is vehicle tracking software and app that uses GPS to track and record driver and vehicle behavior. Through this technology, business owners and fleet managers gain digital access to the following vehicle data:

  • Maintenance tracking: Track the maintenance and repairs of all your vehicles in one place, digitally — no more wondering when a certain truck last had an oil change, or coping with drawers of paper maintenance records
  • Manufacturer safety recalls: Getting notified about manufacturer recalls increases vehicle lifespan and driver safety.
  • Insights into DTC trouble codes when the check engine light comes on: Force will explain DTC trouble codes in plain English that help you make sense of what the issue is and how to fix it.
  • Driver behavior: Behavior like harsh braking and aggressive acceleration or cornering can flag business owners so they can correct these issues before they cause unnecessary wear and tear on your vehicles 
  • Vehicle disturbances: Force sends you a notification if fleet vehicles encounter theft, towing, or any other kind of disturbance.

When you enable notification settings with Force, you can receive these alerts straight to your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Features like these make managing your fleet faster, easier, and more accurate.

Force offers a 30-day free trial, so you can see firsthand how it fits into your overall fleet management process. Try it with no obligation now!

Published January 18, 2021
Joni Taisey
Joni Taisey
Growth Marketing Manager
Force by Mojio