As a fleet manager you have many responsibilities. You firstly have a solemn responsibility to ensure that fleet vehicles are maintained to a proper standard to ensure they’re roadworthy and therefore safe for your drivers and any passengers in the vehicles, other road users and pedestrians, cyclists, and so on. Secondly, you have a responsibility to the company for which you work for, ensuring that their assets are well maintained in a cost-effective manner that doesn’t create liability for the company, and ensures normal operations continue forward..
There are many aspects to the maintenance we’re describing above, but perhaps one of the most important is that the brakes are working properly. Below are some top tips for more effective brake maintenance for fleet managers.
1. Educate Drivers on the Signs of Faulty Brakes
The beginning of good fleet management starts with your relationship with the drivers. They are the ones on the front line who use and experience those brakes on a daily basis. It’s absolutely essential to ensure that drivers are up to speed on key signs of brake damage or the need for brake maintenance:
- Spongy or loose brake pedal
- Juddering or vibrations emerging when pressing the brake pedal
- A squealing or squeaking noise heard when pressing the brake pedal
- Increasing brake distances
- Pulling to the left or right when the brakes are applied
- Visible leaks of brake fluid
- Grinding noises when braking
- Brake warning light appears on the dashboard
When your drivers are keenly aware of the signs, they can report them and prompt timely maintenance even when you were unaware that it might be necessary.
2. Don’t Exceed Recommended Lifespans
The real lifespan of a set of brake pads will depend on the materials and design but they tend to last anywhere from 30,000 to 70,000 miles, more often leaning towards the lower end of that spectrum. As a fleet manager, you should be aware of what the recommended lifespan of your vehicle brake pads are and it might differ if your fleet includes different vehicle types .
A good rule of thumb is not to exceed the recommended lifespan. Even if brakes appear to be in usable condition, them being outside of their recommended lifespan could open your company up to liability if something goes wrong.
3. Introduce Driver Training and Tracking Systems
How brake pads, rotors and other parts of the overall assembly wear down over time depends on the individual driver as well. An aggressive driving style with fast acceleration followed by sudden, sharp and harsh braking maneuvers will result in brake pads wearing away faster, as well as increasing the risk of damage to the rotors.
A good move as fleet manager would be to institute driver training to ensure that drivers are aware of how you expect them to be driving on the roads. These are not “driving lessons” per say, but rather a form of employee training that ensures safety and more even wear and tear across the whole fleet. You can then track driver behavior using tracking systems to ensure everyone is following the same standards.
4. Perform Regular Visual Checks
Fleet managers should arrange for frequent visual inspections of brake linings, hoses, cams, and the wheel and brake chambers. Visual inspections are typically sufficient to throw up warning signs that can warrant a more detailed inspection afterwards. This is a good way to ensure all vehicles are in good order while also saving money by not subjecting vehicles to unnecessary close inspections when there are no other signs of such an inspection being necessary.
5. Ensure Tire Pressure is Kept at Optimal Levels
Finally, many kinds of commercial vehicles, especially trucks depend massively on proper air pressure in the vehicle tires for brakes to work effectively. As fleet manager, you could make it company policy for every driver to check air pressure before leaving on their daily route and then logging that pressure. This helps keep all stakeholders mindful of what is important.
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