15 Aug 23

Fleet maintenance tips from world-class technicians of the FleetTec Acadamy

When it comes to properly maintaining your truck fleet, who better to talk to then the world-class technicians that keep them on the road, or to say graduates of the FleetTec Academy offered by US-based Cox Automotive Mobility Fleet Services.

During my trip in early August to the 2023 TopTech finals in Indianapolis, Terry Rivers (pictured above) the company’s VP of Maintenance and FleetTec Acadamy Provost explained the ins and outs of the FleetTec Acadamy but who I really wanted to speak with this year were the technicians themselves, so I spoke with last year’s winners Jeremy Piepmeier, Harry Jordan, and Zach Nikorak.

photo of 2022 Top Tech champions (copyright: Global Fleet)

Preventative Maintenance (PM) is probably the biggest factor of truck downtime, meaning that not performing it on a routine schedule and not performing every aspect of PM, according to Mr. Piepmeier. 

"A lot of people focus on oil changes and greasing driveshafts, but there is a lot more to pay attention to. Heavy-duty trucks have cooling systems, transmissions, and even power take-off (PTO) systems to take care of. Moreover, it is more than paying attention to truck miles. You need to keep track of engine hours which are usually more,” he said. 

“Maintenance intervals are pretty much the same for medium-duty trucks, but one difference is that the smaller trucks are not designed to run as many miles as a larger heavy-duty one,” said Piepmeier who is the 2022 TopTech Heavy Duty Champion.

In terms of reducing downtime, your fleet needs to be properly maintained. For instance, while Department of Transportation (DOT) inspections are due every year, doing PM checks more regularly – meaning every three months or every six months – would reduce breakdowns and vehicle down time, according to Mr. Jordan.

“Remember to keep an eye on your brakes, especially when they get below 16/32 thickness. You want to have scheduled occurrences and not emergency breakdown service calls,” he said. 

“These types of operations are easier when it comes to scheduling technicians as there is no service call nor last-minute parts run. All of these things save money for fleet managers,” said Jordan who is the 2022 TopTech Trailer Champion.

As simple as it seems, keeping your vehicle clean is huge. For instance, keep an eye on brake dust build up which can create heat and even end up causing a fire, according to Mr. Nikorak.  

“Fleet managers need to stress the importance of pre-trip and post-trip checks. A lot of drivers make the mistake of just jumping in the vehicle and starting to drive. Also remember to maintain your tires appropriately. Tire under inflation is the number one cause of bad tires,” he said. 

All of these things are imperative for the long life of your vehicles,” added Nikorak who is the 2022 TopTech Light/Medium Duty Champion.

To see the winners of the 2023 TopTech Award winners, click here. And for more on what is taking place in terms of fleet and mobility in North America, download your free copy of the latest Global Fleet eBook on the region.

Top photo: FleetTec Provost Terry Rivers and Global Fleet Editor of the Americas Daniel Bland (copyright Global Fleet)

Authored by: Daniel Bland