Maintenance is one of the most important considerations in running a vehicle fleet. Repairs and tuneups account for a considerable portion of businesses’ ongoing costs, but ignoring them can result in catastrophic accidents. A preventive maintenance program improves these processes on every front.

The easiest way to handle upkeep is to run vehicles until drivers notice an issue. While this reactive approach is straightforward, it’s far from ideal regarding costs and safety. Here’s why fleets need a proactive maintenance strategy instead.

1. Increased Vehicle Uptime
One of preventive maintenance’s biggest advantages over run-to-failure methods is that it increases vehicle uptime. Being reactive may involve fewer repair stops, but these repairs are often dramatic and take more time in the long run.

Regularly checking on vehicles allows fleet managers to prevent issues, not just respond to them. Consequently, the fleet will experience fewer breakdowns and less unplanned downtime. Some companies have increased vehicle uptime by as much as 30% by monitoring maintenance needs with telematics systems.

Even though regular preventive maintenance means more planned stops, each one takes less time because vehicles rarely experience significant issues. As a result, businesses applying this strategy effectively will be able to run their cars for longer in the big picture.

2. Extended Vehicle Life Spans
Similarly, a preventive maintenance program will allow fleets to stretch their vehicles’ service lives. Steps as small as regularly changing lubrication reduce premature wear and extend the longevity of any equipment, so they can be used for longer before needing to replace them.

Running vehicles to failure takes a toll on their longevity because they’ll regularly deal with higher stress levels. By contrast, regular maintenance ensures engines and other moving parts run as efficiently as possible between stops. Components won’t wear down as quickly as a result.

Extending a vehicle’s service life helps gain more value from each investment in a new truck. It also delays new vehicle purchases. Considering the average commercial vehicle in Europe is 12 years old, using older cars for longer is a crucial advantage for many companies.

3. Lower Ongoing Costs
Implementing a preventive maintenance program will also lower the ongoing costs of fleet management. Many of these savings come from preventing larger, more complex issues that require expensive repairs. Vehicle maintenance expenditures have been rising since mid-2021, so avoiding the most in-depth fixes saves a considerable amount of money.

The resulting increased uptime and extended life spans will further reduce costs. Running each vehicle longer and getting more service hours out of them translates into higher returns on investment. Fleets save money in the long run as a result.

It’s worth noting that preventive maintenance typically means higher costs in the short term. Fleets should expect to spend more initially as they pay for regular checkups or install telematics equipment to track maintenance data. However, the resulting savings will compensate for this initial disruption in the long run.

4. Improved Road Safety
A less immediately evident benefit of preventive maintenance is that it can improve road safety. Reactive upkeep may fail to catch issues before they interfere with normal vehicle operation. Consequently, drivers may experience breakdowns or malfunctions that endanger them or others on the road.

Most traffic accidents stem from human error, but loss of control over the vehicle caused more than 7,000 accidents in 2021 alone. Cars experiencing issues could also increase the chance of driver errors, as even small changes in performance can be distracting.

Preventive maintenance prevents these distracting or disruptive vehicle failures. As a result, they make it easier for employees to drive safely. These improvements protect them, other drivers and nearby pedestrians.

5. Better Performance
Relatedly, preventive maintenance programs also improve vehicle performance. In addition to preventing dramatic breakdowns, regular care stops less disruptive but performance-affecting issues like thickening oil, loss of traction and uneven tyre wear.

Avoiding these problems ensures vehicles stay in optimal condition for longer. These performance improvements help reduce fuel consumption, limit harmful emissions and make company cars more enjoyable to drive. As a result, fleets can minimise regulatory risks, manage fuel expenses more efficiently and improve driver engagement.

Many of these issues may not immediately come to mind when thinking of vehicle repairs, so they’re easy to miss without a scheduled, regular maintenance program. However, addressing them will optimise fleet operations for everyone involved.

Implement a Preventive Maintenance Program Today
As these five benefits highlight, a preventive maintenance program can unlock a fleet’s full potential. Any business that doesn’t practice regular upkeep may incur unnecessarily high costs and risks without realising it. By contrast, fleets with an effective preventive repair strategy enjoy optimised operations.

Preventive maintenance involves higher upfront costs and more care than a reactive strategy, but its benefits make up for any challenges. Capitalising on these advantages will help fleets stay on top in an increasingly competitive market.

Emily Newton