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!

Fleet Maintenance and Management + Driver Safety – Why Does it Matter?

When it comes to vehicle accidents, the first thought that occurs to a lot of us are drunk drivers, texting & driving, and bad roads or weather conditions.  But do we ever stop to think that poor vehicle maintenance is one of the major reasons that cause these accidents? If fleet managers and drivers know or had been aware that their vehicle had maintenance issues they neglected, they could be held liable if their vehicle causes injuries to others on the road as well as suffer from vehicle downtime which is critical for their business.
This phenomenon leads many companies in search of an efficient fleet maintenance and management solution that has the proper data tracking and reporting tools for vehicle & driver safety. So now we know the reason why people say, Better safe than sorry.”
 
There were more than 32,000 crash deaths in the US in 2013 according to CDC.gov. These deaths cost more than $380 million in direct medical costs. There are four major factors that contribute to vehicle accidents. They are, mostly mechanical issues, road design / maintenance, road condition, and poor driver performance. The latter is, of course, the most significant, and 95% of all accidents involving motor vehicles, worldwide include poor driver performance along with one of the other three.

One way accidents can be avoided and driver safety enhanced is by implementing a fleet management system. This can help you with: 

  • Being informed when your vehicle/asset is due for maintenance
  • Prolonging the lifespan of your vehicles/assets
  • Less breakdowns and vehicle/asset downtime
  • Reduction in future repair costs
  • Improvement in resale value
A well-managed fleet management system such as AUTOsist can result in a more profitable business, enhanced vehicle & driver safety among a myriad of other advantages.

When Technology Meets Fleet
With a smart iOS, Android or Web based fleet maintenance and management system, fleet managers with businesses can differentiate themselves by providing an enhanced level of safety and security to all their drivers as well as the vehicles they own. Such a technology is powerful enough to track and monitor time and cost of vehicle maintenance, miles covered, and other metrics.

Go Paperless
A smart, easy to install and use fleet maintenance technology like AUTOsist allows drivers to move away from paper work and manage the entire data related to driver logs, spend analysis data, backup data and more. Fleet maintenance management technology proves an automated experience to fleet managers as well as drivers while reducing their time and cost associated in manual tracking of all vehicle related records. Whatever is going on behind the wheels, a fleet maintenance and management system is the right tool to make your tasks faster, efficient and easier.

Explore AUTOsist to help your fleet managers, ensure the safety of your drivers and vehicle.

Top 5 Features of AUTOsist

Web Based + Mobile App – Available for iOS, Android, and Web.  Everything syncs so you can manage your fleet on the go.

Maintenance and Fuel Tracker – A dedicated area to track your maintenance and fuel records. Attach receipts and free up any paper clutter.

Reminder Notifications – Set up reminders based on odometer and/or date. Get an alert via push notification and email.

Inspections - Create custom inspection checklists and get notified when something is not in proper working order.

Assign Custom Users with Permission Control – Have multiple users assigned to vehicles/assets and control what they can or can’t do.

So, what are you waiting for? Now let the latest technology takeover your fleet management and make driver safety a mandatory practice.  Sign up for a risk free trial with AUTOsist (no credit card required) by clicking here.

Why Fleet Maintenance and Management is Important and How to Simplify It

nickiheadshotWritten by Nicki Karim


Feeling overwhelmed with the management of your business? Or looking for more ways to profit? Keeping up with fleet maintenance is key for both. Fleet maintenance helps not only in the short term with the up-keeping of your files, but saves you a lot of money in the long run.

“As an operations manager at JACO Limo, I struggled for months to find an affordable fleet management application available on mobile and desktop that multiple people in our organization could quickly pick up on and manage. We identified that we had lost more than $12,000 in 2016 due to confusion, inefficiencies and lack of reporting before we found and implemented AUTOsist.”

-Nick Lopez, Operations Manager of JACO Limo

Small businesses like JACO Limo who are continuing to multiply in the number of vehicles and equipment that their companies own, are starting to rely on fleet management applications to efficiently collect and organize data to keep up with all their fleet maintenance and record keeping.

Some insurance companies are even highly recommending their customers to incorporate a dependable vehicle maintenance program to help lower vehicle operating costs. State Auto specifically has a policy that states the following:

A dependable vehicle maintenance program will help to lower vehicle operating costs and will reduce the chances of a vehicle being involved in an accident due to mechanical failure. We recommend that you establish a scheduled vehicle maintenance program (miles and/or months) with written records maintained on all work, such as lubrication, oil changes, general repairs, and major repairs

Here we list the importance of preventive proactive maintenance methods.

1.  Increases Safety of Employees and Others in the Factories and on the Road

Generally, employers are liable for the safety of their employees when the employee is acting within the scope of their employment. Say a limo driver of limo company hits another car on its way to drop off a party, the limo company will be liable for the safety of that limo driver, the passengers on that limo, and also the parties who have been hit by its employee. This type of liability can be minimized by making sure that every vehicle and equipment used by employees is up to date. Liability is heightened when an employee is provided with a dangerous instrument, such as a vehicle, when the employer knows or has a reason to know, that use of the vehicle creates unreasonable risk or harm to others.

A Web Based fleet maintenance system allows easy access for every employee operating an equipment or vehicle. Software such as AUTOsist centralize the data of all the vehicles of the business and managers can grant their drivers access to the specific vehicles that they’re operating. This lessens the burden on the owner, and shifts some of the responsibility to the drivers as they then have the responsibility to check reminders set by the fleet manager and keep their vehicles in check. AUTOsist will actually send a reminder to these drivers’ phones and emails letting them know about the specific reminder that was set for the vehicle. The reminder feature allows the employers and employees to have a peace of mind that the vehicles they are sending out are current with their maintenance and up to date on any administrative items. Vehicles that are well kept are less likely to break down on the road and cause accidents.

 2.  Helps Prevent Expensive Repairs

Fleet maintenance helps employers stay proactive with preventive maintenance. With constant use, any tool or instrument, such as a piece of equipment, vehicle, or other asset, is prone to wear and tear. When a person relies on reactive maintenance methods, they essentially do not worry about the maintenance of their equipment until there has been an unscheduled breakdown. Lack of preventive maintenance is most often the cause of unscheduled breakdown maintenance. This type of maintenance can be very costly and easily minimized by a proactive maintenance software program. When it comes to the maintenance of their equipment and vehicles, the focus of companies should be to have majority of their vehicle repairs scheduled rather than unscheduled.

Implementing a software which allows you to easily input and access your vehicles’ data such as the due dates of the next oil change, cleaning, vehicle inspection, adjustment, testing, repair, and/or replacement of worn parts, saves you the headache of unscheduled breakdowns and repairs.  Reminders on some of these software as the one mentioned above allow you to see and repair small damages and perform routine maintenances such as oil changes before they become a big problem. Documenting these inspections and small repairs help you keep track of all the work that your vehicle has undertaken and will need to take in the future, giving you the satisfaction that each vehicle is in great shape before you send your employees off on the road.

Each piece of equipment and vehicle have different limitations. Many factors need to be taken into account on how often a piece of equipment or vehicle will need maintenance. An important factor for vehicles is their odometer. With the help of fleet maintenance software, you will be able to give an estimate of how many miles your vehicle drives in a given timespan, and the software will record that and give you notifications on the next due maintenance based on that record. Since each vehicle will most likely have a different mileage, this allows you to keep up with each of your vehicles as their maintenance dates approach without having to be overwhelmed with, say, the oil change of twenty trucks in one week.

 3.  Decreases Equipment and Vehicle Downtime

This also help decrease vehicle and equipment downtime. When a vehicle breaks down on the road, a lot of money and time need to be invested in getting the vehicle repaired and back up and running safely. Say a truck is out for a delivery to a grocery store in New York from California and it breaks down in a remote city in Idaho. This truck will most likely need to be towed to some auto repair shop miles away. This would be very lengthy and costly for the employer. It would also delay the delivery, which would affect the business owner’s relationship with the client. The same applies to equipment in warehouse that are necessary for the daily operations of businesses. Having scheduled repairs ensures that a machine or vehicle is less likely to breakdown unexpectedly and have lengthy downtime.

 4.  Improves Resale Value

When reselling a piece of equipment or vehicle, it is important to not only have it fully repaired and safe, but you will need to have all the documentation to prove it. To maximize resale value, you should be able to show that you complied with manufacturer’s servicing schedules and requirements. Buyers typically assess used equipment and vehicles thoroughly, so it is highly important to have a very detailed record of documentation and proof of consistent maintenance. This gives reassurance to the buyers because it shows entire history of the machine showing that it was well taken care of, which in turn reduces liability for the sellers and makes it very easy for the seller to proof that they sold their machines in good condition.

 5.  Meets Green Objectives

Pollution has been rising substantially over the years. One of the leading causes of it are the number of equipment used in businesses and vehicles on the road. Old instruments such as these cause even more pollution when they are not maintained properly. The DMV actually has specific laws on how often a vehicle needs repaired depending on the size and age of the vehicle. And all vehicles are required to be routinely inspected.

Carlos Blanco, a field inspector for the U.S. Department of Transportation, advises that organized records ready for inspection can smooth out the audit process. Blanco emphasizes the importance of organized records because it shows that the owner is proactive with the maintenance of their vehicles and, therefore, committed to safe operation. This may even influence the depth of the inspection and reduce the length of the inspection review from three days to one and a half. Jason Followill, a motor carrier inspector for the California Highway Patrol, further advises that being unable to find records or find them for examinations raises red flags and leads to more in-depth lengthier inspections.

Try AUTOsist risk free to help you save time and money when it comes to your fleet.  Click Here for a 14 day trial (no credit card required).

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The NSX – A Timeless Machine

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The NSX simply put is like the girl you want to take home to mom.  Elegant, beautiful, and just can’t get enough of.  You know that gitty feeling you get when you meet the right girl?  Exactly how you feel when you get behind the wheel of the NSX…except, the feeling NEVER goes away.  The car is a masterpiece and a truly timeless design.  I still can’t believe this car was first introduced in 1991 – It just blew everyone away.  I don’t care if you hate imports, hate Honda, only like cars with big motors, whatever.  The NSX was a true game changer.  It helped pave the way to the performance vehicles we see on the road today.  The fact that you have a car so exotic, with awesome performance, and drive it 200,000 miles without a blink, left all other manufacturers scratching their heads and forcing them to step their game up (especially Ferrari).  If you are any bit of an automotive enthusiast, you have to appreciate that fact.

I still remember the day when I first set foot in a NSX.  I was in high school, and my friends Dad had a beautiful Red 1996 NSX-T.  We would gawk at it every time we saw him pull into the driveway.  The car was simply stunning, at every single angle.  My friend’s dad took me for a ride, and I was absolutely blown away.  I had experienced nothing like it (of course I was still just a kid back then, but that feeling still holds true today).  I told myself right after I got out of his car that I am going to own a NSX one day…and sure enough, some 15 years later,  I bought my first one – a 2000 Monaco Blue NSX-T.  I knew I wanted a 1997-2001 and many argue that those are the most desirable years for a few reasons:  It has the 3.2 L motor, 6 speed transmission, better suspension & brakes then the previous years, while still maintaining the original design introduced in 1991(2001 was the last year they had the pop up headlights).  I was set out to get a red one, but I was lucky enough to come across another amazing color: Monaco Blue.  They only made 44 NSX’s in this color so it was like finding a Unicorn.

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I had test driven many NSXs before my purchase, and coming from a Gen II Viper, I was worried about the lack of power going from a v10 to a v6.  I have to admit, for today’s standards, a stock NSX does lack horsepower and torque (290 hp, 224 lbs/torque).  However, that is not to say it’s not fast.  The power is delivered so brilliantly and easy to drive at its limits.  The way the NSX was engineered lets you push the car, and is gives you the confidence to keep pushing it harder and harder.  Sure, straight line performance and freeway pulls are far from the NSX’s strong points, but that’s not what the car was built for.  You take the car into the canyon or track, and there is more than enough power for you to do some damage.  I personally don’t track my cars and really use it for spirited runs around town and in canyons, so I felt that the NSX lacked the power I wanted.  Luckily there is a simple solution for that: Forced Induction.

I ended up buying a NSX with a Comptech Supercharger already installed.  The beauty of the Comptech system is that the low boost setup is literally plug and play.  It adds roughly 100 hp and arguably doesn’t compromise the reliability of the motor.  It’s actually one of the few forced induction mods you can do that could potentially increase the value of your NSX.  Many people feel that the NSX should have come like this from the factory.  The power band is so linear, and really feels close to the stock set up – but with much more power.  I hear many great things about turbo setups as well.  I have yet to drive in one and worried that if I do, I will have the itch to switch over as I hear the torque increase is substantial making it that much more fun.

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I can go on and on about how awesome the NSX is.  Timeless design, awesome performance (especially with FI added), comfortable interior, amazing balance and cornering ability, and exclusivity.  The fact that I can easily daily drive this car, get 24 mpg (if you drive like a grandma), and not see more than a few a month, is just mind blowing.  The targa experience is also something to note.  The car can tranform itself from a serious track machine to an awesome cruiser with an open cockpit in a matter of seconds.  Everything was designed so brilliantly on this car with tons of attention to detail.  It’s really hard to point out any negatives.  I think the only thing I could say is that for today’s standards, even supercharged, it does lack straight line performance.  However, as I mentioned earlier, if you are after that one dimensional thing, the NSX is not for you.