Vehicle Maintenance BASICs: Keeping Trucks on the Road

Every driver has a story or two about keeping their truck running safely. Whether it’s a clutch that sticks because the flywheel was installed backwards at the garage or a rig that’s outlived its time because of close attention to pre- and post-trip inspections and careful maintenance. A well-maintained vehicle keeps you running on-time and ensures a safe trip along the way, for you and the other drivers on the road. It’s also one of the six categories the FMCSA is tracking.


Vehicle Maintenance: Learning the BASICs
Keeping your truck from being tagged out-of-service means you can spend more of your time on the road, and keep your fleet from waiting for parts or a mechanic to get to your repair. And careful attention is the key to avoiding simple maintenance issues. When operating any commercial motor vehicle (CMV) it’s crucial to make sure it’s ready for the road, which includes factors we’re all familiar with, like:

●    all lights and reflectors working correctly
●    no worn tires
●    documented pre-trip inspections
●    ensuring proper operation of the coupling device

And the FMCSA is providing added reason to tackle these problems before they appear. If an inspection turns up any of these safety violations, you will be cited:

●    inoperative brakes
●    nonfunctioning lights
●    violation of the tire tread standards
●    failure to make required repairs
●    any suspension-related violations


Protecting Your CSA Score: Knowing Where You Stand
What happens when one of your vehicles is cited for a maintenance or safety violation? That information is collected and made available on the FMCSA’s SMS website. It’s easy to see where your fleet stands by logging on to find your CSA score, which is listed as a percentile ranking based on the performance of similar fleets against all of the BASIC categories. And inspections that find no safety violations can help to improve your overall ranking. The SMS website also gives motor carriers an opportunity to review their safety performance and challenge any citations they believe to be errors. Higher percentile rankings can lead to alerts and safety interventions, like warning letters or investigations.


Technology Telepathy: Avoiding Maintenance Problems Before They Develop
Staying one step ahead of maintenance problems and the FMCSA is the best way to avoid downtime and the problems that come along with alerts on your CSA score. Thorough pre-trip and post-trip inspections and vehicle maintenance logs have always been the best way to keep your fleet in fighting shape, but dealing with the paperwork, checklists, and reports can be such a hassle that sometimes drivers will take shortcuts to save time. Vehicle maintenance software solutions, like Xata Turnpike, make it easier than ever to keep track of your trip inspections and make sure maintenance issues aren’t developing into bigger problems that will attract the attention of the FMCSA. And Xata Turnpike can help you anticipate routine repairs that will keep your rigs operational and avoid the shocking costs associated with accidents and breakdowns.


Staying on the Road
With a little attention, and a partner who can help you keep track of your vehicle maintenance schedules, you’ll keep your trucks on the road doing what they do best, delivering results for your customers!

Stay tuned as we focus next on the FMCSA’s efforts to cut down on unsafe driving.