A strong focus on preventive maintenance (PM) can help control costs, reduce downtime and extend the life of parts and components, all of which can help to improve fleet operations within a business. However, managing and maintaining a commercial fleet can get more complex as vehicle technology advances. At the same time, many fleets are keeping equipment longer due to supply chain challenges and manufacturer delays. This makes a focus on equipment upkeep even more important.

Strengthening Maintenance with Data

“Penske Truck Leasing monitors component failures continuously and uses the data to add preventive maintenance steps by make and model,” said Chris Hough, vice president of maintenance design and engineering at Penske Truck Leasing. That helps technicians to get ahead of issues before they result in an over-the-road breakdown.

Live diagnostic reporting systems can also help identify patterns that provide insights into potential failures. “By using repair history associated with fault codes and applying data science you will learn of the need for certain repairs,” Hough said. “This allows you to be proactive and make the repairs prior to the component or system having a failure.”

Penske Truck Leasing has taken more than 1,000 fault codes and broken them up into red, yellow and green to help technicians, carriers and drivers understand which codes need immediate attention.

Extending Tire Life Through Proper Care

Like many products, tires have been affected by supply chain challenges, and keeping tires functioning properly improves safety and fuel economy, prevents over-the-road failures and extends their lifespan.

Tire care is especially important as temperatures increase. Tires typically run hotter and wear faster in warm weather, and the tread portion of the tire becomes softer, making tires more susceptible to punctures from road debris.

Because tire pressure increases as temperatures rise, there is a risk of over-inflated tires. When air pressures are inaccurate, tires flex in ways they weren’t designed to, changing the shape of the tire’s footprint, creating irregular wear patterns and reducing tread life. Also, underinflated tires build up excessive heat, potentially causing premature failure. To help mitigate the risks tires face, tire inflation pressure must be checked with an accurate tire pressure gauge.

Keeping Brakes Safe

Brake-related violations comprise the largest percentage of all out-of-service vehicle violations cited during roadside inspections, and according to last year’s three-day International Roadcheck data from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), brake systems and brake adjustment violations accounted for 38.9% of all vehicle out-of-service violations, the most of any category of vehicle violations.

“Poorly maintained brake systems can reduce the braking capacity and stopping distance of large trucks and motorcoaches, which poses a serious risk to driver and public safety,” said CVSA President Capt. John Broers with the South Dakota Highway Patrol. “In those split-second emergency situations, the proper functionality of the brake systems on large commercial motor vehicles is crucial.”

CVSA will hold its annual Brake Safety Week Aug. 21-27, and CVSA encourages proactive vehicle maintenance in advance of the event. Brakes should be checked at every preventive maintenance inspection and drivers should regularly check brakes during pre- and post-trip inspections, Hough said.

To help improve brake safety and functionality, drivers and technicians should focus on the following:

Slack Adjusters: Automatic slack adjusters in vehicles are sometimes cited as being out of adjustment when they are on the verge of adjusting. To prevent that, he advises drivers to apply the brakes several times at a high PSI level — 90 or better — when pulling into a scale. Typically, drivers apply brakes at a 20-30 PSI, but stabbing the brakes and applying 90-100 PSI three or four times, will balance a slack adjuster on the verge of adjusting.

Chafed Lines: The routing and clipping of brake lines should be checked at every preventive maintenance interval. Drivers should make sure they store their airlines that connect to the trailer properly after every use. They also need to make sure that lines are not rubbing the catwalk when connected to the trailer.

Air Leaks: Penske technicians check for air leaks when they conduct preventive maintenance on a unit, and drivers should check for air leaks during pre-trip inspections. Releasing the parking brakes and applying the brake pedal/treadle valve can help drivers monitor their air gauges. The unit should not lose more than two pounds of pressure in a one-minute period of time and a combination (tractor/trailer) should not lose more than three pounds of pressure in a one-minute period of time. If it does, it needs to be repaired before drivers continue with their trip for the day.

Seals: Drivers and technicians need to regularly inspect their gladhand seals where the tractor and trailer connect to minimize the risk of corrosion within the braking system.

Wear: Hough recommends replacing or repairing brakes before they hit the Department of Transportation (DOT) minimum standard of 1/4 inch. As part of its preventive maintenance guidance, Penske Truck Leasing replaces the brake lining between 5/16 and 3/8 of an inch.

During the brake portion of the CVSA inspections, inspectors will look for missing, non-functioning, loose, contaminated or cracked parts on the brake system. They’ll also look for non-manufactured holes, such as rust holes and holes created by rubbing or friction, and broken springs in the spring brake housing section of the parking brake.

Inspectors will also listen for audible air leaks around brake components and lines and ensure the air system maintains air pressure between 90-100 psi. They will also check for S-cam flip-over and measure pushrod travel. They will check that slack adjusters are the same length (from the center of S-cam to center of clevis pin) and the air chambers on each axle are the same size. They will also inspect required brake-system warning devices, such as anti-lock braking system (ABS) malfunction lamp(s) and low air-pressure warning devices. In addition, inspectors will ensure the breakaway system is operable on the trailer, and inspect the tractor protection system, including the bleed-back system on the trailer.

Keeping up with Inspections

Even with advanced vehicle technology, proper pre- and post-trip inspections are a crucial component of vehicle safety. The inspections can help drivers avoid violations during roadside inspections, prevent accidents and ensure the vehicle is safe while also preventing breakdowns out on the road, saving drivers time and ensuring on-time deliveries.

During every pre-trip inspection, a driver should look for leaks, damage, operable lights, properly secured cargo, sagging equipment and anything that looks out of place. Drivers should also review the previous Driver Vehicle Inspection Report.

The post-trip inspection gives time for carriers to make necessary repairs and it also provides documentation the next driver can review during his or her pre-trip inspection. If the previous driver noted defects or deficiencies, the new driver must sign the inspection report to acknowledge that he or she has reviewed it and that there is a certification that the required repairs have been performed. Motor carriers must maintain the original of each vehicle inspection report and the certification of repairs for three months.

August 2022

Technology continues to advance our ability to use data to deliver more customized maintenance programs. This data driven approach, along with our unmatched perspective, provides maintenance to keep your fleet on the road, and your business moving forward. Now that’s intelligent maintenance.

Penske Truck Leasing has introduced remote service check-in via its Penske Driver™ mobile app. The new feature of the Penske Driver App provides commercial truck drivers with greater convenience and speed and enables them to maximize social distancing by remotely checking-in their vehicles for scheduled preventive maintenance or repairs via the mobile app. The new in-app process enhances the company's existing in-person and kiosk processes.

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Technology plays an important role in keeping trucks on the road to deliver food, and vital medical and household supplies, during this stay-at-home time of COVID-19. A key part of ensuring that Penske box trucks and tractor-trailers operate optimally is the preventive maintenance inspection.

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Mike Hasinec's distinguished career at Penske Truck Leasing has been recognized by the transportation industry. The company's vice president of maintenance is the 2020 recipient of Commercial Carrier Journal's Technology and Maintenance Career Leadership Award.

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David Sledziewski, a Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, truck maintenance technician, was named the champion of the inaugural Penske Truck Leasing 2019 Tech Showdown competition.

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Penske Truck Leasing is committed to providing the right preventive maintenance (PM) services at the right time to the right vehicle and has embraced technology to improve upon the traditional scheduled maintenance checklist. Penske Truck Leasing offers Dynamic PM®, a data-driven preventive maintenance technology that will enhance compliance, quality and uptime.

"We have gone from a paper document to a voice-directed maintenance technology and software system that provides specific direction based on the vehicle’s attributes, geographic location, age and domicile," said Mike Hasinec, vice president of maintenance support for Penske Truck Leasing. "We have 1,200 to 1,500 tasks identified that get populated throughout the vehicle's life."

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Preventive maintenance is at the core of a strong maintenance program. As part of its full-service leasing and contract maintenance agreements, Penske Truck Leasing provides maintenance for its customers, which enables private fleets to focus on their core business offerings rather than their equipment.

Defining preventive maintenance precisely can be challenging. To answer questions like "what is preventive maintenance?" and "what is included in preventive maintenance?" or "what are some examples of preventive maintenance?" Penske created this helpful FAQ.

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Some of the most severe Class 8 vehicle malfunctions, such as truck fires, brake failures and defective tires, can be prevented through regular, thorough fleet maintenance services. That not only improves vehicle uptime but also reduces the risk of costly crashes, large-scale equipment failure and roadside violations under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrations Compliance, Safety, Accountability program.

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Preventive maintenance, which includes regularly scheduled inspections, tests and repairs, increases a vehicle's reliability, improves uptime and reduces the risk of equipment failures. Truck maintenance checklists have traditionally been used to ensure critical pieces of equipment are examined, repaired or replaced at the appropriate intervals and that nothing gets missed, but technology is changing that.

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Cold temperatures, snow, ice and road debris can create challenges for Class 8 tractors and trailers during the winter months, and improperly maintained trucks run a higher risk of breakdowns. Downtime can result in missed delivery windows and poor service.

Proper pre- and post-trip inspections along with regular preventive maintenance can keep equipment running and there are certain components that often require extra care. Penske takes several steps to ensure uptime as temperatures drop, including treating fuel with winter additives to maintain vehicles’ performance and having technicians check specific components.

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Downtime is the nemesis of every fleet operator, and preventing it is a priority of truck leasing and renting companies.

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As the U.S. economy gains momentum, one particular pocket of strength can be found in the trucking industry, where the Cass Freight Shipment Index showed a string of monthly increases in the first half of 2017, year over year. The data also indicate positive momentum for freight tonnages through 2019.

For this upbeat forecast to be realized, trucks must stay on the road. Downtime is the nemesis of every fleet operator, and preventing it is a priority of truck leasing and renting companies. In fact, at Penske Truck Leasing preventive maintenance is one of the foundations that everything else rests upon.

"We believe that if you don't get preventive maintenance right, you don't get anything right," says Gregg Mangione, senior vice president of maintenance. "No other function is as critical to downtime avoidance."

The company's investment in infrastructure includes 800 plus service locations across North America staffed by over 9,500 diesel technicians. Breakdowns are responded to with 24/7 roadside assistance supported by some 18,000 emergency providers. Should a lease unit be out of service for 24 hours, Penske's expansive rental fleet can provide a substitute unit, and repair of the original vehicle is expedited.

Maintenance has undergone a wave of change stemming from new EPA regulations in fuel economy, and the technology engineered to boost miles per gallon and reduce emissions has altered the landscape. Today's trucks perform more efficiently and yield important data about their operating condition. The components responsible for these upgrades are sophisticated—some contain precious metals—and can prove fragile.

Recognizing the degree of specialization this calls for, even large corporations have turned to leasing. "We're signing agreements with companies that have the resources to own and operate their own maintenance centers," says Mangione, "but they see what's required to keep in step with the latest technologies, and deem it too big a distraction from their core businesses."

Yesterday's standards and protocols for when and how to inspect machinery are obsolete, according to Mangione, and fleet managers stick to them at their peril.

"If there is a slight coolant system leak, it generally won't affect engine performance," he explains. "However, it can put a part like a $2,000 Diesel Oxidation catalyst at serious risk." A standard Penske practice to mitigate this possibility is to sample used oil—not by the customary visual check—but by submitting the sample to a specialized lab.

In the critical area of remote diagnostics, Penske's proprietary digital experience platform is an industry first in its size and scale, designed to enable faster roadside "triage" and improved maintenance through remote diagnostics and Big Data analytics.

All the new data produced through vehicle telematics gives Penske more visibility into downtime events. "The technology identifies any fault code activity," Mangione explains. Many of the codes represent conditions that need no immediate attention, but the dash warnings can alarm a driver, and Penske makes it a point to get in contact with the customer and work through steps that, ideally, will complete the day's schedule in that same truck.

"Uninterrupted running of the client company's business is the standard we operate by," he adds. That's surely an example of going the extra mile in customer service, but freight has to move, and staying on the road is what the job is all about.

January 2018

Penske knows that a big part of running a successful business involves getting product to its final destination on time and in good condition. That’s why we have made investments in our people, technology and tools to stay ahead of the curve and deliver value to our customers.

No matter what size fleet you operate, or where it’s located, Penske offers maintenance services that can help you:

  • Lower operating and fuel costs
  • Increase labor productivity
  • Optimize vehicle uptime and lifecycle and
  • Achieve environmental goals

You can focus on your core business while we focus on maintaining your fleet.

Four Key Points to Service, Support and Satisfaction

Our customers count on us for our trucks, and Penske has a responsibility to provide the highest quality vehicles to meet transportation needs. To do that, we subscribe to four key points for providing a comprehensive maintenance program:

  1. Follow a rigorous maintenance schedule that ensures greater year-round vehicle uptime
  2. Use advanced system analytics to identify potential failures, track performance, cut costs, and determine the optimal operating life for your vehicles
  3. Repair items right the first time, to avoid back-and-forth trips to the shop
  4. Source high-quality parts to keep your trucks running longer and more efficiently

There for You Between Scheduled PMs

We don’t stop at preventive maintenance either. If you run into an unscheduled issue between PMs, owners and drivers can take the truck to the shop and monitor up-to-the-minute incident status in Fleet Insight™, our online suite of fleet management tools. We also take a number of measures to help you keep your trucks on the road as long as possible between scheduled PMs:

  • Consistent, one-stop service nationwide to keep your trucks in top condition, no matter how far they are from home
  • Fleet performance and maintenance data analysis to reveal trends and anticipate needs
  • Off-hour, round-the-clock scheduling and service to put your trucks back into service quickly
  • The best in automotive maintenance technology to ensure we’re doing high-quality work on your vehicles

Already Have Your Own Truck?

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