Regular vehcile inspections and maintenance are important
As an organization with drivers spending time on the road, you need to feel confident that your vehicles will function efficiently and safely under all driving conditions. That’s why vehicle maintenance should be part of your defensive driving plan. When your vehicles are operating properly, the safety devices inside them as well as other important parts, such as brakes, are working to protect your drivers and others on the road. It is imperative that you maintain your vehicles to its highest standards in order to benefit from their safety features.
As the owner of your vehicles, you should also be interested in preventive maintenance. The simplest and most economical way of protecting the original investment is through preventive maintenance. Some examples of things you can do to maintain your vehicles include:
- Regular tune-ups
- Oil changes
- Checking fluid levels
- Inspecting brakes
- Monitoring tire treads and pressure
- Examining lights, signals, and wipers
You should be aware that vehicles in poor operating condition are a significant driving hazard. By following the maintenance schedule outlined in your owner's manual to maintain your vehicles, you can eliminate this hazard. For example, perform tune-ups regularly and change the oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. Also, check and maintain proper fluid levels for coolant, brake fluid, and power steering fluid. Don't forget to keep the windshield washer tank full so you don't run out when you need it. Another important maintenance tip is to have your brakes inspected according to the schedule in the owner's manual, and replace brakes as necessary. Worn out brakes are a leading cause of many accidents on the road. Be sure to check your tires to make sure they are properly inflated and still have sufficient tread. Rotate tires every 10,000 miles so that they wear evenly, and change tires as necessary. Finally, be sure your lights, signals, and wipers are all working properly, inspect them daily.
A preventive maintenance program cannot be considered good without record keeping. Each vehicle should have its own maintenance and repair file, including a lubrication record, an inspection and repair record, and a schedule outlining a program of periodic maintenance and inspection. If your vehicle is leased, the record should identify the contractor supplying the vehicle. Drivers should be responsible for knowing the mechanical condition of their vehicles. It is the driver who must assure that the vehicle is in good condition at the start of each trip.
Before starting off, your drivers should check inside the vehicle and be sure the floor is free of obstructions and debris such as tools, rags or soiled clothing. They should also take a close look at the seat and seat belts to be sure they are sound. They should start up the engine and watch the instruments—which should give a normal reading. While the engine is running, heater, defroster and windshield wipers should be checked. They should check the emergency equipment. The fire extinguisher should be charged and operable, and there should be adequate flares or reflective devices. They should check the headlights, body lights and reflectors outside the vehicle. The driver should be sure tires, and wheels are in good condition.
Supervisors should ensure that all work vehicles follow proper maintenance schedules and that employees keep their vehicles in good, safe operating condition at all times.
By following the maintenance schedule outlined in the owner's manual for your vehicle you can be assured your vehicles are in safe condition when your drivers hit the road.
By: Mike Harding
*Markel Specialty is a business division of Markel Service, Incorporated, the underwriting manager for the Markel affiliated insurance companies.