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How telematics helps catch vehicle defects and maintenance Issues

The perfect marriage of metadata logging and GPS technology, telematics allows for the long-distance sharing of onboard vehicle information. From tire pressure to live speed reporting, it is the big brother of the trucking industry for fleet managers. Telematics allows maintenance and operations departments to deep dive into the working order of vehicles without a visit to the shop. Let’s take a closer look at the defect and maintenance detection with telematics. 

What Exactly Is Telematics?

The backbone of modern fleet management, telematics offers real-time internal truck monitoring from miles away with embedded equipment. The technology includes a:

  • GPS 
  • Onboard diagnostics system with engine interface 
  • Accelerometer 
  • SIM card 
  • Expander port 
  • Algorithm-programmed buzzer to log coordinates

How Do Telematics Work?

Using the accelerometer and GPS to track vehicle movement, telematics logs speed, starts and stops. While this is happening, the vehicle’s diagnostic system sends information collected via sensor to the cloud, including, for instance:

  • Mileage
  • Fuel economy 
  • Distance 
  • Sudden stops 
  • Battery power

Once in the cloud, your fleet management tool puts the information into context so you can easily flag problem areas and schedule checkups.

4 Ways Telematics Saves Fleets Money

Telematics by itself can help uncover problem areas with the vehicles in your fleet, but with the adjunct power of the right fleet management software, it will help with the following.

Reports on Air Pressure

The number one cost of fleets in the past has been due to tire inflation pressure. This affects fuel economy. With telematics, all of this is reached in real time without having to check your tires manually.

According to the FMCSA, only 15% of tire-related incidents happen suddenly, which means 85% of the time the problem occurs over time without notice. 

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), every dip of one psi in tire air pressure reduces gas mileage by 0.2%, which will add up.

Monitor Fuel Economy

Outside of tire pressure, diesel exhaust fuel (DEF) levels can cause you to use fuel faster and other costly emissions violations. If left unchecked, DEF can cause major engine damage, which is an extreme cost.

If your fleet seems like it’s still using too much fuel, but you’ve optimized and performed preventative maintenance for DEF, telematics can actually show you if your fleet is a victim of fuel theft. Though it can’t stop it, you can track the trends of where and when this is happening to help your drivers keep a watchful eye on certain pit stops.

Electrical Issues & Battery Consumption

Though this is more thinking towards the future, electric big rigs are coming, and even a few are here. Batteries can be upwards of 50% of the cost of an electric vehicle. Battery Management Systems don’t store usage data when offline; telematics always does.

This will become far more important as the new EV routes are launched over the next few years. Truck charging stations may attract billions in grants.

Track faulty wiring problems simply from the absence of information.

Harsh Braking & Accelerating

Monitor behavior to determine if the problem is due to road hazards, weather conditions, a vehicle problem or driving issue. Harsh braking causes overheating and drastically diminishes the lifespan of the brakes.

On the other side, semi-truck drive trains aren’t built to handle harsh acceleration, especially with a full load.

Along with saving money on maintenance, many insurance companies use telematics information for safe driving discounts of up to 40%.

Telematics Keep the Wheels Going Round

Acting as a beacon for a fleet manager’s ground control, telematics saves you precious time by canonically giving you empirical data you can weigh against the company and industry norms. Proactive maintenance is almost always better than reactive maintenance as it will keep you on the road rather than getting you back on it, and telematics will take the guesswork out of when and where you need to take a closer look.


What is telematics?

Telematics is a monitoring process that uses GPS and OBD to track a vehicle’s geographic and internal status and working order remotely.

Can I set maintenance reminders with telematics?

With the use of a modern fleet management system you can set preventative, predictive and reactive maintenance reminders, and more.

Is an ELD a telematics device?

Though ELDs are in telematics devices, they are just one crucial part of a multipronged tool. ELD devices decipher the engine control unit (ECU) to give nearly real-time data accurately.

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