For many business owners, having reliable transportation is vital to success. Some businesses rely on pickup trucks, vans, and buses to transport workers, taxi cabs, and RVs. But what happens when these commercial vehicles break down? That’s why commercial vehicle maintenance is essential.
To keep your transportation logistics running smoothly, you need regular car maintenance to ensure your vehicles don’t break down unexpectedly. We’ll look at different types of commercial vehicles, how to use major car services to keep your fleet running, and some practical tips for business owners.
Types of Commercial Vehicles
In 2021 alone, North America produced 10.9 million units of commercial vehicles, according to Statista. Depending on your business type, the type of commercial vehicle you can use varies. Let’s look at common commercial vehicles and the types of businesses that use them. While commercial vehicles can’t fit into one neat category because they overlap in function, the following categories can give you a general idea of various commercial vehicles.
Commercial trucks come in various types, but they are mainly used for one role—hauling cargo. Box trucks have a designated cargo area and are used by delivery companies such as FedEx and moving services such as U-Haul and retail businesses. Flatbed trucks have an open cargo area that allows lifting machines to pick up the cargo. Flatbed trucks are typically used by construction and mining companies.
Other types of trucks include tanker trucks used to transport liquids such as gas and oil and dump trucks. Dumb trucks are used for trash removal services such as construction waste and dirt. They are retrofitted with a hydraulic lift to make dump disposal easier. Trucks can be customized depending on the cargo you intend to carry, and they’re usually large—capable of carrying significant cargo loads.
Vans are designed for carrying both people and cargo. They are typically smaller than trucks. Cargo vans are used by businesses such as courier services and flower farms and by plumbers for transporting tools and supplies. Cargo vans can perform a similar function to trucks, except they carry a lighter weight load. Regular maintenance and repairs, such as major car services, are essential for keeping your cargo van in good condition.
Passenger vans are smaller alternatives to buses. Hotels use passenger vans to shuttle them from one attraction to another, while universities and churches may use vans to shuttle people on field trips. They’re customized according to use, for example, large windows for tourist vans.
Buses have one function— transporting large groups of people. They include school buses, transit buses, and coach buses. Educational institutions use school buses to ferry students from home to school and during field trips. They come with additional safety features, such as stop arms. Government agencies such as NYC Transit Authority use transit buses for public transportation.
Coach buses are used by chartered companies, for example, to transport athlete teams. Each type of bus is retrofitted and customized to meet the common needs of passengers. For example, public transit buses may have additional features for accessibility, while coach buses may be luxurious, spacious, and well-designed.
4. Emergency Vehicles
Emergencies are used by first responders to provide support, save lives and protect property. First responders who use emergency vehicles include police officers, firefighters, and paramedics. Police cars are retrofitted with alarms and flashlights to draw attention, while ambulances have the equipment to save lives. Firefighters move around with fire-fighting trucks filled with liquids to stop fire and access tools such as ladders.
Private security officers may also have emergency vehicles, especially if they are contracted to offer security services to companies or organizations. Each emergency vehicle will have custom features for responding to an emergency, including bulletproof glasses, first aid kits, and towing tools. As with other vehicles, major car services ensure emergency vehicles are in top condition and ready to respond to emergencies.
5. Specialized Vehicles
Specialized vehicles can fit in any category above using one detail—customization. Specialized vehicles are designed for specific purposes. For example, refrigerated trucks are specially designed to transport perishable goods such as medicine, groceries, and meat. Construction vehicles such as excavators are used for preparing sites for construction. Military vehicles allow military personnel to access hard-to-reach places.
If you’re a business owner dealing with a product that needs special handling, you may need specialized vehicles. While they may cost more than generic vehicles, they’ll help you achieve business goals faster and more efficiently. Of course, sometimes you may need special order spare parts and accessories, for example, custom golf cart seats for golf vehicles.
Why Do Maintenance and Repairs?
Imagine this—a customer orders a product and confirms payment, but your tank fails just as your team is about to head out. The fuel tank has a faulty component, your in-house technician says. Bad for business, you sigh! But there’s more than postponed deliveries. Here are reasons why you should use major car services regularly for your commercial vehicles.
- Keep Everyone Safe: According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 13% of all traffic fatalities are caused by large trucks and buses. Faulty brakes, worn-out tires, and other mechanical problems can put passengers and drivers at risk. Major car services can prevent this from happening.
- Comply with Regulation: Federal, local, and state regulations require regularly maintaining a commercial vehicle. Regular checking and repairs protect you from unexpected fines, penalties, or even license revoking.
- Increase Your Vehicle’s Longevity: Commercial vehicles cost an arm and leg, so you should protect your investment. Your vehicle can serve you longer if regular checks and heating system repair is performed.
- Keep Your Vehicle Reliable: The last thing your clients need is a message informing them of a possible delay. You can avoid this by having scheduled maintenance to ensure your vehicle will perform when required.
- Save Costs in the Long Run: Volvo car repairs are much cheaper than replacements. Besides, when a vehicle fails, it’ll cost more in wasted time and zero productivity hours. Maintenance helps you save costs in the long run.
You may be already in a precarious financial position. So, it might make sense to prioritize other factors over major car services. But what happens if you neglect maintenance and repairs? First, you’d be putting your driver and other road users at risk.
Your commercial vehicle may also work at reduced efficiency. When some parts are working poorly, it makes your car work a bit harder to perform. The reduced efficiency may lead to losses and more fuel costs. Let’s now look at major car services commonly used for commercial vehicles.
Common Repairs Done to Commercial Vehicles
Engine Repairs: Some commercial vehicles, such as trucks, transport goods for long distances, which can strain the engine. Such exertion causes overheating and oil leaks, among other problems. Engine repairs will keep the engine in good condition even during long distances.
Electrical System Repairs: Your commercial vehicle may have problems, such as faulty alternators and dead batteries, because of their immense work. Electrical systems may evaluate issues such as water damage, rusting, torn wires, and faulty components.
Suspension Repairs: Commercial vehicles carry heavy loads, which can cause wear and tear on the suspension system. So, the suspension system may have issues such as broken springs or worn-out shock absorbers.
Transmission Repairs: Some commercial vehicles have automatic transmissions, which can have issues such as slipping gears, leaking transmission fluid, and rough shifting. Others with manual transmissions may have worn-out clutch plates that require repair and replacement.
Brake Repairs: Brakes on commercial vehicles are often under more stress than on regular vehicles, leading to wear and tear on the brake pads and calipers. The wear and tear is exacerbated by driving on hilly and off-roads.
Tips for Business Owners
Now you know that it’s essential to maintain your commercial vehicle. From metal suppliers to private school owners, business owners can avoid headaches through major car services. Are there commercial vehicle maintenance best practices you can follow?
Tip #1: Follow Manufacturers Guidelines: The first and most obvious place to start on your commercial vehicle maintenance is following the manufacturer’s manual, which comes with the vehicle. The best strategy is following the car manual schedule, for example, on tire rotations and oil changes. This schedule will keep your vehicle from unexpected breakdowns and prolong its life.
Tip #2: Regularly Check Fluids: Car fluids keep your vehicle efficient, so regularly change oils, coolant, and brake fluid so you can identify issues before they become worse. Dirty and low fluids can lead to other damages, such as overheating. You can have an in-house mechanic do these basic maintenance jobs or outsource and schedule it.
Tip #3: Regularly Check Tire Pressure: Both overinflated and underinflated tires are problematic. Over-inflated tires can cause decreased traction and increase the likelihood of a blowout. On the other hand, under-inflated tires can lead to uneven wear and lower fuel efficiency. The trick is balance. Follow manufacturers’ guidelines on optimum tire pressure.
Tip #4: Don’t Postpone Issues: As a business owner, you probably have tens of actions you must take every week to keep the business running. Pay for supplies, pay your attorneys, pay rent…and the list goes on. Please don’t put major car services at the bottom of the list. Instead, prioritize cost-effective maintenance strategies and address issues immediately they arise.
Tip #5: Train Your Drivers: If you want to avoid dealing with an auto accident attorney because your commercial vehicle injured someone, train your drivers. Focus on more than good driving, including soft skills such as keenness, empathy, and self-control. Ensure your drivers have a commercial driving license and some experience driving similar vehicles.
One of the most popular maintenance approaches is preventive maintenance. All the above tips are preventative, so you address problems before they arise. While sometimes it makes sense to postpone maintenance until you have resources, the smart strategy is to prevent repair needs from happening. Keep an updated log every time maintenance is done.
What to Look for in a Commercial Vehicle Driver
Better than training your drivers is ensuring you have a good driver, to begin with. According to FMCSA, of all fatal truck accident victims, 39% didn’t have a seat belt on, 17% of the drivers were overspeeding, and 16% were on the phone. As you can observe, the driver can make or break your commercial vehicle use experience. So, what should you look for in a commercial vehicle driver?
1. Experience and Training: How long has your driver been working, specifically with commercial vehicles? What specific vehicles have they driven? During that time, how many traffic warnings have they received? Getting a well-trained driver with extensive experience with your specific commercial vehicles is a big plus to your business.
2. Strong Work Ethic: You can learn so much about someone using details such as punctuality and reliability, how they treat others above or below them in rank, and even how they dress. Strong professionals put their best foot forward and are quick to apologize when in the wrong.
3. Physical Fitness and Overall Good Health: Your driver should get a clean bill of health from a medical professional before assuming work. They should have good vision, the ability to sit for long periods, and knowledge of good health habits.
4. Soft Skills: Often ignored in technical job posts are soft skills. Does your driver have good communication skills they apply to team members and customers alike? Can they easily adapt to new situations? They should also have strong problem skills.
To bring it all together, commercial vehicle maintenance, including major car services, is critical for any business owner who wants to keep their driver and road users safe, avoid fines, and deliver products at the agreed time. So don’t neglect your commercial vehicle—if you give it the attention it deserves, it’ll reward you with reliable, efficient service. Happy driving!