Vehicle Inspections for your Fleet – The Do’s and Dont’s

nickiheadshotWritten by Nicki Karim


Complying with fleet inspection regulations can be a real pain in the neck! Managing multiple vehicles and employees is stressful enough. Trying to keep up with the constantly changing field of regulatory compliance is a whole other ball game. Whether you’re doing too much or too little, you are not being cost or time efficient. And there is a better solution.

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The Overwhelming Laws of Regulatory Compliance

One way to stay up to date with the laws of regulatory vehicle compliance is by periodically reading the FMCSA laws. However, given that it’s around 700 pages, this will take you weeks, and it will definitely put you to sleep a few of those times.  Companies that manage multiple vehicles or assets have a higher risk of failing to keep up with regulatory compliance as there are just too many vehicles and drivers to keep track of. Below are just some of the essential sections of the FMCSA that might help shed some light on the seriousness of regulatory compliance.

  • 396 is the biggest and most important section that relates to vehicle inspections. §396.3 is on inspection, repair and maintenance.  Subpart (a) of this section lays out the general rules:

    “[e]very motor carrier . . . must systematically inspect, repair, and maintain, . . . all motor vehicles and intermodal equipment subject to its control.”

    • Parts and accessories need to be in safe and operating condition at all times. And pushout windows, emergency doors, and emergency door marking light in buses shall be inspected at least every 90 days.
  • Subparts (b) and (c) deal with records. All motor carriers other than private nonbusiness motor carriers, must maintain records for each motor vehicle they control for 30 consecutive days. Records must include the following:
    1.  An identification of the vehicle including company number, if so marked, make, serial number, year, and tire size. In addition, if the motor vehicle is not owned by the motor carrier, the record shall identify the name of the person furnishing the vehicle;
    2. A means to indicate the nature and due date of the various inspection and maintenance operations to be performed;
    3. A record of inspection, repairs, and maintenance indicating their date and nature; and
    4. A record of tests conducted on pushout windows, emergency doors, and emergency door marking lights on buses

The Practicalities Behind Maintaining Records

These records need to be retained where the vehicle is either housed or maintained for a period of 1 year and for 6 months after the motor vehicle leaves the motor carrier‘s control.

The most logical way of keeping up with regulatory compliance is by using a fleet maintenance and management software like AUTOsist that is designed to make data maintenance quick and easy. Using a fleet maintenance and management software is not only cost efficient, but also very convenient and time efficient.

Failing to timely keep up with vehicle inspections pertaining to commercial vehicles regulatory compliance can end up making a huge hole in your company’s wallet. It is simply not realistic for management to keep track of every vehicle’s needs and to make sure that every driver is having their vehicles inspected as necessary. The chances of all of your vehicles needing inspections around the same time are very slim, as different vehicles have different lifespans and maintenance requirements and needs. Therefore, you need something that will keep track of all of your vehicle inspection information and alert you when the next vehicle inspection is needed.

Fleet maintenance and management software allows you to manually install all of the relevant data about vehicle inspections to make information easily accessible for managers and owners. This way, whether you are just routinely trying to figure out when the next vehicle inspection is or there is a vehicle that is coming due for a mandatory inspection, you have the necessary information right at your fingertips for you to act as quickly as necessary.

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While some companies fail to timely have their vehicles inspected, which ends up costing them a lot later due to a higher risk of the vehicles breaking down, some companies go overboard and do too much—which also ends up adding unnecessary easily avoidable costs. Knowing what not to do is almost just as important as knowing what to do most times. Having your vehicles unnecessarily inspected is costly in many ways.

When you take a vehicle out for inspection, you lose out on the use of that vehicle for those hours or days. The driver who relies on the vehicle also loses out on work for that day. Although it is ideally great to be on the safer side, if you take into account all the financial and time loses of over-inspecting and maintaining, you are ultimately wasting too much money and resources.

Fleet and Driver Safety

Lastly, but definitely most importantly, safety is huge concern for most commercial vehicle companies. Failing to comply with regulatory laws can be costly and stressful, but if the failure to timely and properly inspect your vehicle is the cause of injury to your employee or a third party, then you are in for even harsher legal actions. This will not just be costly and stressful, but it can even cause companies to go bankrupt from impossible legal fees.

Making sure that your vehicles are inspected as necessary and according to compliance laws will give you the peace of mind that you are doing everything that you are legally and morally responsible for to avoid injuries to your employees and third parties. You will also have the confidence that in the off chance that something did happen, you have all the recorded data to prove that you are not liable.

Fleet inspection maintenance and management does not have to be stressful and complying with the regulatory laws does not have to be intimidating! All you need is a reliable efficient fleet management software like AUTOsist to keep it smooth and simple for you!