There are only pros to regular maintenance
Regular vehicle maintenance and the use of genuine or approved parts will lower operating costs and improve profits
There is no doubt in my mind that regular vehicle maintenance – which is carried out by a qualified technician and done in accordance with the recommendations of the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) – will lower the operating costs of any commercial vehicle and give the operator a better profit margin.
A well-maintained truck or bus will also provide the owner with peace of mind.
In today’s tough operating environment, it is important to achieve the full life expectancy of trucks and buses without the need to replace expensive major components; like engines, gearboxes and differentials.
To achieve these objectives, vehicles must be well maintained and operated using the correct clean fuel, air and oil. It is extremely important to use genuine or OEM-approved filters and to follow the OEM’s specifications when replacing or adding lubricants and when using anti-freeze.
A well-maintained truck or bus that is kept in a roadworthy condition at all times will also reduce the risk of the vehicle being involved in an accident.
Road transport operators cannot afford to have a vehicle off the road waiting for an accident repair, as the fixed costs (which are also known as the vehicle standing costs) are extremely high.
For example, a three-axle truck tractor that is coupled to a set of superlink trailers costs an estimated R4 000 a day when the vehicle is in the repair shop. This is because the vehicle instalment, the crew, the insurance, licence and overheads all still need to be paid, irrespective of whether the vehicle is on the road working or standing in the repair shop. Plus, the business is not generating any profit if the vehicle is not working.
There are many other advantages that result from running commercial vehicles that are well maintained. These vehicles will attract buyers who will pay a premium price when it comes time to replace them.
The risk of expensive vehicle roadside breakdowns will also be reduced. Vehicle breakdowns are very costly as they contribute to upsetting the company’s valued customers and impose a risk of the driver, the vehicle and load being hijacked.
Good, professional drivers are also more motivated if the vehicle that they are driving is well maintained and kept in a clean condition.
To optimise vehicle operating profit, owners should not fall into the trap of assuming that if the vehicle is regularly serviced there is no need to carry out the daily pre-trip inspection, as these will highlight any tell-tale signs of a pending failure or problem.
VIC OLIVER is one of this country’s most respected commercial vehicle industry authorities, and has been in this industry for over 50 years. Before joining the FOCUS team, he spent 15 years with Nissan Diesel (now UD Trucks), 11 years with Busaf and seven years with International. Do you have a comment or thought you would like to share based on this column? Visit www.focusontransport.co.za and have your say!