Here are some hints that may help you keep your fleet in working order.
Nichols Automotive Service Center can take care of all your Commercial Fleet
needs. After all, we understand that the more you can get our of your
vehicle, the better for your business. Stop by and talk to us about a Fleet
Preventative Maintenance Plan today!
1. Change the oil every four thousand miles, religiously. Use regular
oil, not synthetic; buy the highest quality regular oil you can find; 10W30
is fine for most applications in most cars. (check your owners manual)
Whenever you change the oil, always change the oil filter, too. Funny things
can happen inside of oil filters, and it's best not to push them too far.
2. Keep all dirt OUT OF THE ENGINES! This means change air filters and
fuel filters regularly. Make sure the air intake system has no leaks which
could allow unfiltered air to enter.
3. Never ever let your cars overheat. Caution your drivers to stop
immediately and get it fixed if their car begins to overheat. Overheating
means premature death to all kinds of hoses, seals, and gaskets in your
4. Do not let your drivers hot-rod the cars. Drive them normally,
exerting normal stresses on the various parts.
5. Set up a regular maintenance schedule for all your cars. Schedule the
maintenance around your 4,000-mile oil changes. That is, while each car is
in for its 4,000-mile oil change, do whatever else is scheduled at that
Make sure that one of the top technicians inspects each car during the
oil change. You want him to take a look at everything and report any
abnormalities. A low-skilled oil-change guy is a very bad idea. A wheel
could be falling off, and he might not notice it. You want some sharp-eyed
technician who can quickly spot anything which seems to be going wrong.
6. In general, replace parts, don't try to repair them. Replacement parts
are made in factories, with the efficiencies of mass production. Parts
repair is almost always a big waste of time in a fleet maintenance
7. In general, use high-quality remanufactured parts where available,
except for engines, where you should go with used engines, where possible.
It's very hard to remanufacture an engine properly. The original
manufacturer did a better job than the remanufacturer can usually do.
Transmissions are a different story, however: we use Ford rebuilt
transmissions which come in a box from the factory.
8. Avoid cheap tires and batteries. They are more trouble than they are
worth. (Avoid cheap parts in general, for the same reason.) Buy all-season
tires and maintenance-free batteries. Keep the terminals clean and dry on
your maintenance-free battery. Since no battery acid should be able to reach
your terminals, there is no need for any kind of grease or corrosion
inhibitor. If you see corrosion, replace the battery: there is a leak.
9. The only real advantage to tire rotation is that it makes all of your
tires wear out at the same time. Replace your tires one-at-a-time, as
needed, if you like. If you find unusual tire wear, fix the underlying
problem, which is usually worn front-end parts resulting in bad alignment.
10. Do not let anything squeak for very long. Squeaking means that
improper friction is happening somewhere in your car. Find it and fix it.
11. Do not let anything grind for very long. A low-frequency grinding
noise means that actual destruction is going on in your car! Find it and fix
12. Encourage your drivers to develop their sense of smell for automotive
smells. Gasoline is one smell; exhaust fumes another; burning oil is
another; transmission fluid is one smell, motor oil is another; coolant is a
sickly sweet smell; brake fluid is another smell; battery acid is another;
brakes overheating is one smell; rubber burning is another. These are the
main ones. Encourage your drivers to learn them, and pay attention if they
suddenly start to smell any of them.
13. Warn your drivers not to drive when a red warning light comes on.
Tell them that the red ones are serious and must not be ignored. Better to
stop the car and catch a cab than to destroy an engine for lack of oil, for
14. The yellow warning lights are not as serious. They do demand
attention, but the drivers don't usually need to interrupt a trip to get
them fixed immediately.
15. Encourage your drivers to get to know their cars and love them. Tell
them to be aware when anything seems to change for the worse. Tell them to
pay attention and be aware of their car just as they are aware of their own