Keeping fleet vehicles on the road
Calculating the cost of driving faux pas
The day pass your driving test is a rite of passage. Mirror, signal, manoeuvre and off you go. Freedom, independence, the admiration of your friends and the open road are all yours.
You keep to the speed limit, you drive with two hands on the steering wheel, never undertake and always check your oil before a long journey.
But how long before the bad driving habits creep in?
How long before you set off in second gear, cruise in neutral or rest your foot on the clutch while leaning your hand on the gearstick?
Falling into such bad habits can be dangerous and costly. Inadvertent driving sins and careless behaviour by fleet drivers can cause excessive wear and tear to vehicles, meaning repair costs can quickly escalate to budget-blowing levels.
For a fleet manager, these unexpected, but often avoidable repair bills can be a major cause of cost control and budget forecasting headaches.
Kick the bad habits
Service, maintenance and repair (SMR) costs are one of the key influencers on fleet total cost of ownership (TCO) figures.
Throughout 2021, maintenance and repair bills increased dramatically due to labour costs, the chip shortage, parts and component supply issues.
Although these third-party price hikes are largely out of the control of fleet managers, there are still ways to reduce the need for many of these costly repairs. Improving driver behaviour and banishing bad driving habits are pivotal to controlling SMR spend and running an efficient fleet.
The seven costly sins of driving
Does the way your fleet drivers behave behind the wheel put a strain on your vehicles – and your fleet budget?
Many drivers are not aware that they would fail their driving test second time around after picking up bad habits as their experience on the road grows. Most drivers are not even aware of the hidden costs of falling into bad motoring habits.
Here, we examine the most common driving sins that lead to unexpected and increasing fleet service, maintenance and repair (SMR) bills.
1. The late braker
Emergency stops can be a necessity, but regular late braking puts an unnecessary strain on brake pads and discs, which then need to be replaced more often. Late braking also costs more in fuel – not to mention the long-term damage to the vehicle and the environment.
2. Foot to the floor
Driving for a living often means you are up against the clock. Time is money when it comes to making deliveries or getting to important meetings. But aggressively accelerating at either a low rpm (revolutions per minute), or in too high a gear, places extra strain on the engine particularly when carrying heavy loads or driving uphill.
3. Gears are for changing – not for resting!
We all learn to drive with two hands on the wheel but as confidence grows, the hand slips – often resting on the gearstick. Did you know this can cause unexpected pressure to be applied to the selector fork, which is bad for the transmission. This in turn can cause premature wear and tear by applying pressure to the selector fork.
In addition, drives should be aware that, depending on the engine speed and vehicle speed, skipping gears can also cause wear and tear. This is because the synchroniser rings have to compensate for higher speed differences in the shafts of the gearbox. Furthermore, the speed difference of the shafts in the transmission increases depending upon the speed driven.
4. Clutch coaster
Poor clutch control and gear grinding or riding the clutch (coasting) is a bad habit that not only impedes your control of the vehicle, but also speeds up the need for costly clutch replacement.
5. Riding the brake
Although it can be tempting to do this when driving downhill, keeping your foot on the brake pedal for long periods can cause it to overheat, wearing out brake pads before their time is up.
6. Bumpy ride ahead
Driving at speed over potholes and speed bumps should be avoided at all times. This can lead to damage to shock absorbers, springs and suspensions, tyres, alloys and wheel alignment. The damage can be considerable and the costs to repair or replace hefty.
Drivers should always come to a complete stop before shifting into reverse to avoid damage to the transmission. This can easily go unnoticed as it’s not normally checked during a regular service. Repair work in this area can be steep.
Drive down the costs of big bills
Most vehicles have efficient warning systems to alert drivers, and their fleet managers, to potential issues. But drivers can be guilty of ignoring hazard warning lights because they don’t always know what they mean? Instead of getting out the handbook, they are all too often ignored in the hope that on the next journey they will disappear.
If your fleet maintenance and repair bills are soaring, now may be the time for your drivers to receive refresher training on the dos and don’ts of motoring.
Good driving practice will ultimately save money, jobs and lives.