FreightWaves Ratings cuts through the noise of freight technology product reviews to make you a smarter buyer

How to create a fleet maintenance program

A fleet maintenance program is a huge benefit for any trucking company. It can increase safety and the vehicle’s lifespan while keeping costs down and your business operating efficiently. This article will explain just what a fleet preventative maintenance program is and how to implement one so your business can thrive.

And when you’re finished reading, check out the other articles in our ‘Truck fleet maintenance management’ series:

What is a fleet maintenance program?

A fleet maintenance program keeps your vehicles running at optimal levels. It focuses on preventative maintenance, so your vehicles stay in top working order, and the probability that issues will occur while it’s in use is greatly reduced. A fleet preventative maintenance program keeps trucks and drivers safe on the road.  

Who uses fleet maintenance?

Trucking companies utilize this service to ensure their vehicles don’t break down at the worst possible times. Cargo trucks travel for long periods through various climates. 

The long-distance miles and ever-changing environments place a lot of wear and tear on the vehicle. Because the truck’s life expectancy and overall health are directly related to the company’s profitability, it’s imperative to have an effective truck fleet maintenance program in place. 

Fleet maintenance costs

Repair and maintenance costs are among the largest expenses your fleet will encounter. Just one truck’s upkeep can cost upwards of $15,000 to $18,000 per year. If you have a fleet of five, ten, or even more vehicles, these costs can quickly add up and eat into your profits. That’s why it’s important to implement a program that regularly checks for issues so that they don’t become larger expenses down the road. 

What are the benefits of fleet maintenance programs?

Maintenance costs are currently rising since accessibility to parts is increasingly difficult. A fleet maintenance program has quite a few benefits, which we’ll cover in this section.

Ensures safety

Safety should be one of your top priorities and an investment you’re willing to make to keep your vehicles and drivers out of harm’s way. A proper maintenance program will prevent the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) from handing you an out-of-service violation for a matter that would have been spotted during a regular maintenance check-up. 

In addition, your Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) scores won’t be impacted negatively. A poor score can stop you from being hired, and if you already have repairs costs to pay to get back on the road, it can be difficult for your company to recover. 

If an accident should occur, you don’t want it to result from an equipment issue that could have easily been prevented. Your company will then be liable and found negligent. Also, you want to protect your drivers as they are an integral part of your business. 

Sending them out on the road in a faulty vehicle can have major consequences. A truck fleet maintenance program will minimize the risks they face on the road every day. 

Reduces costs

Detecting minor problems before they become serious saves your company money. Regular oil changes are much cheaper than paying for an engine replacement. Should you have to take a truck off the road for extensive repairs, the delivery delays caused by the downtime will result in lost profits. 

Fuel costs are high right now, and ignoring your equipment’s needs will only cost you more in time. Underinflated tires that reduce mileage and poorly-maintained engines will consume up to 50% more fuel than a truck that receives consistent scheduled care.

Creates centralized control

A fleet preventative maintenance program centralizes your maintenance operations and gives you control over costs, vehicle scheduling, and quality control. You can set service reminders while tracking and managing repairs. The program provides insight into the health of your equipment, allowing you to approve any needed repairs before the regularly scheduled maintenance. 

Maximizes resale value opportunities

A truck in prime working condition can fetch more money on the resale market. Keep organized records of every maintenance visit for potential buyers. When they see how much care went into the vehicle’s preservation, they will be willing to pay a higher purchase price.

How to set up a fleet maintenance program

Now that you know why a fleet maintenance program is important, let’s look at the steps involved in setting one up for your business.

Start with the basics

There are a few items necessary to develop a comprehensive fleet maintenance program, including:

  • Custom checklist for each class of vehicle on its preventative maintenance activities 
  • How often preventative maintenance will be performed
  • Ways drivers can submit written inspections and complaints about a vehicle’s performance
  • Finding a facility to handle inspections, maintenance, and repairs
  • Locating qualified technicians to oversee maintenance procedures
  • Accurate record-keeping methods
  • Developing a process to order parts and store spare inventory

Create a bottom line

Get a clear picture of where each truck in your fleet currently stands regarding repairs and maintenance. Gather all documentation about the fleet’s maintenance history and conduct a thorough inspection of each truck

Each truck’s inspection and service records should be up to date. That will give you a baseline from which to work, and you’ll know what each vehicle needs as well as when they need said services. 

Make a timeline

Maintenance intervals should be scheduled according to the type and class of the vehicle. Other factors to consider when developing a maintenance timeline include how often the vehicle is used and operating conditions. Standard gas-operated vehicles can be scheduled based on mileage, but on-site equipment may have maintenance intervals determined by a specific number of engine hours. 

Some tasks can remain unscheduled if the proper trigger is not implemented to notify your team of the issue. You have to decide which metrics to use in determining what’s best for your trucks and business, whether that’s fuel usage, mileage, operating hours, or other measurable data. 

Consider expanding resources

Keeping written records organized can get messy as files are easy to misplace. Fortunately, there are plenty of fleet maintenance software programs you can use to generate reports, submit issues, and transmit required reports quickly and efficiently. Human error is reduced when the information collected is automated. 

You’ll be able to keep track of costs, upcoming license and registration renewals, assets, and vehicles and manage insurance claims from one system. Fuel costs will be reduced as you take advantage of the improved routing and traffic alerts. 

Customers will be happier as you can give them accurate delivery and pick-up times. Using software has many advantages that will save time and money.

There are a few drawbacks, one being the fee associated with fleet maintenance programs. Also, if your team isn’t particularly tech-savvy, you may experience some issues when training everyone to use them. 

Integrating the software with your current system may also be a difficult task. If there’s ever an outage and the information is not properly backed up to a cloud server, you may lose valuable information. 

Develop a checklist

Checklists ensure that you cover everything needed to keep your trucks in safe working condition. Each type and class of vehicle has different maintenance needs, and some will require more detailed inspections or parts or fluids to be replaced more often to remain compliant. 

Implement driver inspection and reporting systems

The drivers who take your trucks out on the road daily will notice small issues before many trained technicians. They will pick up on subtle changes in the vehicle’s operating abilities that aren’t always obvious to others. 

They are the first to know if there is a problem with the windshield wipers, braking system, mirrors, heating and cooling system, or other items. Develop an inspection and reporting system to make these matters known so they can be handled right away. Your vehicle operators play a key role in vehicle maintenance.

Track metrics and adjust accordingly

When a new process is first implemented, there may be some kinks that have to be worked out before it runs smoothly. A fleet maintenance program is no different. 

Keep track of the metrics you have set up for preventative maintenance versus how many unscheduled maintenance activities have been performed. If you find your program isn’t working as planned, adjust the maintenance triggers to reduce the number of unscheduled appointments. 

If a particular vehicle class has more breakdowns than others, take another look at the plan and arrange for more frequent part replacements to see if that helps. Having this kind of visibility will assist in making better decisions when it’s time to purchase new vehicles

Bring the team together

Your team has a direct relationship with the vehicles in the fleet. So, have conversations with the technicians, operators, and dispatchers. Encourage them to discuss what they see happening in the field openly. 

If procedures don’t have the desired impact, they will let you know. Depend on their knowledge to assist with improving the fleet maintenance program to keep costs and risks low. 

Maintenance prevention program is the key to success

Preventing a potential problem from occurring is a much easier path to take than dealing with a full-scale crisis. A fleet maintenance program may seem like a lot of trouble to establish, but once you have a firm grasp on what each vehicle in your fleet needs, you’ll be able to save yourself from headaches that could very likely cause profit losses. 

Take your time so that you can pick the right software. Enlist your team to help you develop policies and procedures that will ensure the seamless operation of your program. You’ll be thankful you did in the end! 


How do I set up a fleet maintenance program?

To set up a fleet maintenance program, build a schedule of preventative maintenance services based on manufacturers’ recommendations for each truck, and keep records of repairs, costs, and downtime using a software program or manual log. Establish a pipeline of preferred certified mechanics and replacement parts to achieve best pricing and fast turnaround.

How much does fleet management software cost?

Fleet management software costs approximately $5-$50 per vehicle per month depending on the functionality and integration capabilities selected. Programs offering basic GPS tracking and reporting are on the low end, and those with advanced analytics and additional features are on the high end.

What is total fleet cost?

Total fleet cost encompasses the complete financial expenditure to operate all vehicles under management and typically includes fixed ownership costs like loan payments, registration and taxes. It also includes variable operating costs for items including fuel, maintenance, insurance premiums and management overhead among additional factors.

We are excited to announce the launch of, a revolutionary resource designed to transform how consumers choose auto-shipping companies. Check it out today!

Experience the Diesel Laptops difference!

From diagnostic tools to repair info, parts lookup, and technician training — our comprehensive solutions redefine efficiency. Featuring U.S.-based support, a 30-day money-back guarantee, and dedicated replacement services.