What Is Fleet Maintenance?

by Tom Lutzenberger; Updated September 26, 2017

Every business that has a number of vehicles it owns and uses for its activities has a vehicle fleet. The job of maintaining this fleet so that all the vehicles are available and usable for employees is critical for availability and if the company wants to keep an active scrutiny on what it pays for its vehicles. Failure to have good fleet maintenance in all of its aspects will result in an unnecessary loss of company funds, assets and mobility. Thus its well worth the time for a company to understand the various aspects of fleet maintenance.

Life Cycle Management

Every business asset has a life cycle. This is more commonly known as the asset's depreciation cycle. When the fleet vehicles are new they are at the beginning of the cycle. As they are used over time, the various cars in the fleet will need repairs and will wear down. At a certain point, the cars go past their usefulness and cost more to maintain than not. This is when most company fleet managers take action to sell the old cars and replace them with new ones. Usually every car is given a life cycle estimate; for example, five years. However, the cycle in practice may get extended when the company budget is tight and may get shortened when the budget is robust. The fleet manager has to track each car, find a way to keep a viable fleet with each car's cycle, and work within the constraints of the company budget.

Fleet Tracking

Large companies frequently keep their business vehicles in different locations. The fleet manager has to keep track and update a working database of where each vehicle is, its current registration and licensing, and which employee it is assigned to. Many times the fleet manager is also charged with tracking home parking of the vehicles and those employees allowed to commute with a business vehicle. This is considered a fringe benefit, and the U.S. Internal Revenue Service requires businesses to collect taxes from employees receiving such perks. Fleet tracking is also critical to keep an inventory of all vehicles assets owned by a company at any given time.

Preventative Maintenance

Along with knowing location and life cycle, fleet maintenance also involves keeping track of each vehicle's maintenance schedule. It is a well-known fact that regular oil and filter changes can preserve a vehicle much longer. Fleet managers who monitor their company vehicles for preventative maintenance needs can save thousands of dollars in avoiding unnecessary repairs. Employees usually won't worry about such matters, figuring the company will take care of the car. So it's a major cost control to have a fleet manager chasing down oil and filter, tire, and hose and belt changes as they are needed.

Fuel Tracking

Fleet maintenance also includes a necessary operating expense of fuel. Most fleets have fleet cards assigned to each vehicle. This card is essentially a company gas credit card to be used for refueling; however, in the wrong hands, this tool can be abused. Fleet managers have to actively track these purchasing tools to prevent such problems from occurring and causing the loss of company funds.

Learning Fleet Maintenance

Most fleet managers work they way up from support positions to fleet manager in a company. This tried and true method has usually produced the best results because these experienced individuals know fleet maintenance at every level. As a result, they know how to direct staff and run fleet programs effectively from a real world perspective.

About the Author

Since 2009 Tom Lutzenberger has written for various websites, covering topics ranging from finance to automotive history. Lutzenberger works in public finance and policy and consults on a variety of analytical services. His education includes a Bachelor of Arts in English and political science from Saint Mary's College and a Master of Business Administration in finance and marketing from California State University, Sacramento.

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