19 Jun Why You Should Inspect Your Vehicle Before the Day Starts
Daily vehicle inspections are an important, though often neglected, part of the morning routine. Regular morning checks can save time and money on repair costs, making operating your work vehicle safer and stress free.
Everyone has a morning routine — make sure your phone is charged, double-check your schedule, eat a healthy breakfast, pour that first cup of coffee into a travel mug— which can make all the difference for the rest of your day. One item that should be added to your routine is checking your vehicle before you get on the road.
A daily morning vehicle inspection provides a litany of benefits: it can identify small issues before they become big problems, ensures all systems are functioning properly, and gives you peace of mind.
However, the most important element of conducting morning vehicle inspections is safety. In 2016, approximately 40,000 deaths in the United States were the result of motor vehicle crashes, according data from the National Safety Council — the highest road fatality rate since 2007 and the worst two-year increase in the last 50 years. While not all of these were caused because there wasn’t a daily safety inspection, it could have likely helped to avoid some of those crashes.
Making maintenance a habit
Turning daily checks into a habit is a surefire way to ensure your vehicle is in top shape and always properly maintained. One concern you may have in conducting checks before starting your day is the time it might take. Once you turn daily inspections into habit, they will naturally become second nature and a part of your routine, and consider it time saved if and when you find an issue.
Before daily inspection becomes routine, develop a short checklist of the systems on the vehicle you should check daily. Eventually, you’ll memorize the list as it becomes a habit. Here’s a sample list:
- Tires are inflated to the proper PSI (check the inside door panel for the manufacturer’s recommended inflation level), and over time you will be able to more or less eyeball your tires. Still, be sure to check your tires at least every time the seasons change, because temperature affects tire pressure the most
- Tires have no punctures and have good tread depth (more than 2/32 inch)
- The brakes are functioning correctly
- The inside of the passenger compartment is clean, and there are no loose items/equipment that could cause injury or damage in the case of a sudden stop or accident
- The engine is running properly and there are no warning messages or errors indicated on the instrument panel
- The windows and side mirrors are clean and have good visibility
- The side mirrors are correctly positioned (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8eztkRnHy3Y)
- The wiper fluid reservoir is filled
- All of the exterior lights are working properly
- There is enough fuel to reach your first call/stop of the day (most mechanics agree that the fuel pump and filter perform best with at least a quarter tank of gas)
Knowing your vehicle
One of the biggest benefits of regular inspections is that it will make you familiar with your vehicle. This will allow you to easily identify any irregularities.
Your fleet should have a regular preventive maintenance program in place to handle regular, routine maintenance; however, the fleet manager is, in part, reliant on drivers to bring maintenance issues to his or her attention. So if there is a maintenance issue, particularly if it could affect the proper operation and safety of the vehicle, bring it to the attention of your fleet manager as soon as possible.
Also, keeping track of daily wear and tear on your assigned vehicle can also be a helpful way to understand your driving habits, particularly if you have to fill the tank often or if your tires seem to be wearing unevenly. This may be a sign you are driving aggressively, increasing your risk profile in the fleet.
Saving time and money
While a morning inspection might take a little extra time, it will ultimately save time and money for you and your company. For example, there’s nothing worse than being on the road and having a flat tire — it’s inconvenient, it’s frustrating, it’s potentially dangerous, and it will mean downtime from your job (either because your vehicle is out of commission or you have been injured and need to recover), affecting overall schedules and your own ability to meet sales or service goals.
Downtime costs affect the overall bottom line. The general rule of thumb is that for every $1 lost it takes about $10 in revenue to make up. A short, regular morning inspection may have caught a potential blowout waiting to happen, protecting you from, at the very least, a very inconvenient, frustrating day or, at worst, a hospital stay and months away from your job.
Accidents happen, but regular inspection and maintenance can create safer conditions for you and the other drivers on the road.