Diesel Exhaust Fluid Locator: 5 Ways to Find DEF Near You

Diesel has often been misunderstood in the past. Many people’s impressions of diesel engines are tied to trucks emitting noticeable emissions. However, it’s important to note that these visual emissions are mostly associated with older truck models or those few who modify their trucks to “roll coal” for show.

Thankfully, with advancements in technology and the EPA’s 2010 mandates requiring diesel vehicles to be equipped with an SCR system, which utilizes DEF, the emissions from diesel engines have significantly reduced.

So, let’s dive deeper into what this entails and its implications for fleet managers.

SCR, DEF, and More: What Does it All Mean?

The SCR is the Selective Catalytic Reduction system. It’s a means of converting diesel exhaust into something a lot cleaner, reducing both nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions, both of which are dangerous greenhouse gasses that contribute to a variety of environmental hazards, including acid rain. In fact, the introduction of the SCR system to power generation plants over 50 years ago is a large part of what made acid rain no longer a modern-day concern.

The SCR process is a three-stage system; the engine burns diesel fuel and produces exhaust as a byproduct, and that exhaust is pumped into the SCR:

  • It goes through a particulate filter, which traps the larger particles that would otherwise gum up the works.
  • Then, DEF is pumped into the exhaust system, and it’s chambered in a catalyzer.
  • There, chemical reactions between the nitrogen compounds and the DEF produce nitrogen, water, and a bit of CO2.

All in all, the resulting emissions are significantly less hazardous to both people and the environment and make diesel trucks nigh-infinitely cleaner to run.

“SCR is an active emissions control system. Hot exhaust gasses flow out of the engine and into the SCR system, where aqueous urea (known as Diesel Exhaust Fluid, or DEF) is sprayed onto a special catalyst. The DEF sets off a chemical reaction in the exhaust on a special catalyst that converts nitrogen oxides into nitrogen, water, and tiny amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2), natural components of the air we breathe. The exhaust also passes through a particulate filter somewhere in the system and is then expelled through the vehicle’s tailpipe.

The design of SCR technology is such that it permits nitrogen oxide (NOx) reduction reactions to take place in an oxidizing atmosphere. It is called “selective” because it reduces levels of NOx using ammonia as a reductant within a catalyst system. The chemical reaction is known as “reduction,” where the DEF is the reducing agent that reacts with NOx to convert the pollutants into nitrogen, water, and tiny amounts of CO2. The DEF is rapidly broken down to produce the oxidizing ammonia in the exhaust stream.” – Diesel Forum.

The easiest explaination of this is:

In an SCR, when DEF is added to exhaust gas, it turns into ammonia. This ammonia then reacts with harmful pollutants, transforming them into harmless nitrogen and water, thus reducing harmful emissions.

(If you happened to major in chemistry, you can read a more technical breakdown of how this reaction happens here.)

Of course, fleet managers don’t necessarily need to know the chemical processes behind why DEF works or how the SCR process functions. All you need to know is that the EPA and federal government mandate its use and that DEF is a consumable.

What Does It Mean

As a consumable, that means diesel engines need to have their DEF tanks refilled from time to time. DEF infrastructure is robust enough that DEF can be found nearly anywhere that diesel fuel is sold. Fortunately, it’s not consumed at a very high rate; DEF generally only needs to be refilled about as often as the engine’s oil is changed,

It’s that “nearly” that gets you, though. DEF can be found in many different locations, but now and then, you run into issues locating it, and that can cause problems. So, how do you locate your nearest – or most efficiently routed – DEF fill-up station?

Note: DEF is essentially a simply balanced solution of urea (commonly and easily purchased) and water, so can’t you make your own? The answer is no. While it’s not difficult to actually make, the urea needs to reach certain minimums of purity, and the water must be pure without contaminants; otherwise, the DEF you produce will damage SCR systems. Moreover, DEF is cheap; buying the ingredients and making it on your own wouldn’t save you anything and would cost you time and effort.

Knowing where to find DEF before your engine runs low is critical because once that tank is dry, the engine shuts off. The last thing you need is a truck stranded because it’s missing a single chemical. So, where can you find DEF near you? Here are five options.

1: Proactive Maintenance: Keep DEF On-Hand

The first option is the one we generally recommend.

Since DEF doesn’t need to be changed and only needs to be topped off occasionally due to its low rate of consumption, you can add “fill the DEF tank” to your preventative maintenance checklist. Then, whenever any of your trucks are in for any kind of inspection, service, or diagnostics, it can be a routine matter to simply top off the DEF tank and call it a day. DEF doesn’t go bad unless it’s been sitting at high temperatures for several years, so as long as your trucks aren’t idle, you don’t need to change out the fluid in the tanks. All you need to do is ensure that it’s topped off, like any other consumable.

If you operate your own service centers or maintenance bays, it’s a simple matter to keep DEF on hand. There are a wide variety of suppliers you can use to order DEF in however large or small a quantity you need, from single-gallon filler jugs to large tanks used for filling up your fleet. You can even order directly from one of the regulated manufacturers of DEF and have it delivered straight to your doors.


On the other hand, if you’re a fleet that uses service centers other than your own, all you need to do is make sure the service and maintenance facilities you use keep DEF on hand. Just about any service provider that works on diesel vehicles with any regularity will keep DEF on hand, so this shouldn’t be a tall order.

At Epika, we have partners all across the country who can help work on and service your fleets, and most of them will have DEF on hand. You can use our “find a service provider” tool to locate nearby service centers with DEF to top off the tank as necessary.

2: Use a Service Provider’s Site Locator

The second option is to use the site locator for a given service provider you know that offers DEF at their service stations.

For example, this page, provided by CNRG Fleet, includes an embedded and robust map of locations for CFN service centers that offer DEF fill-ups as a service they provide. Similarly, using the CFN Locator and selecting DEF under the fuel type offered can show you nearby locations for any truck anywhere in the country you’re operating.

Gas Station and Truck Stop DEF Locator

CFN isn’t the only company with DEF services and a station locator, either. Whatever brand loyalty you have, you can pick that brand and find their nearby service centers. They don’t always have robust maps you can check, but you also don’t always need a map if you know ahead of time where the stations you can fill up at are located.

Other options can include Yara or FindDEF.

3: Use a DEF Locator App

These days, just about everyone has a smartphone in their pocket. Even when a driver doesn’t, there’s a reasonable chance that the truck itself is outfitted with a tablet that can do a variety of things, including tracking truck telemetry, identifying and adjusting routes for the driver to take, and monitoring conditions.

Whether your truck technology runs on Google’s Android or Apple’s technology, there are apps available for both platforms that can locate nearby DEF fuel stations. Most trucks will run on some variety of the Android ecosystem, and there are many Google Play Store options available. A variety of different apps with different features are available for locating DEF in nearby locations, using GPS information from the driver’s phone or the truck’s tablet or just an address or general location the operator types in.

Locator App

Truthfully, an app may not even be necessary. Google’s maps, by default, offers a variety of additional features, and using it to search for nearby DEF locations is going to be a fairly robust, non-app-gated way to find a place to top off the system as necessary.

4: Use a Fleet Management Platform

There are a variety of different apps and platforms available to fleet managers that offer pretty much any service, telemetry, or data tracking options you could want. In addition to allowing you to pick effective, efficient routes for your trucks, dynamically assign nearby drivers to tasks, and optimize the general performance of your fleet, they can also review and predict when trucks may need a top-off of DEF or other ongoing routine maintenance and can direct a driver to a particular service center nearby them that can provide those services.

There are a variety of platforms you can investigate, and picking the one that works best for your fleet is mostly a matter of system architecture and of an app that is intuitive for you and your staff. Options include AUTOsist, Fleetio, Azuga, Onfleet, Samsara, and more.

5: Stock Drivers with Emergency DEF

Another option, which pairs well with option #1 on this list, is to ensure that drivers have a backup supply of DEF on hand. If filling up the DEF tank is missed, or if a bit of tubing springs a leak, or in another emergency where DEF runs low, it can be frustrating – not to mention destructive to productivity and deadlines – for a truck to be rendered non-functional because of a single consumable.

Therefore, it’s easy enough to keep a jug of extra DEF on hand in the general supply kit for a truck. A jug of DEF is cheap – a 2.5-gallon jug is only $10 at Walmart – and it’s readily available. While this shouldn’t be your go-to source of DEF, it’s a good way to ensure that there’s a way to keep a truck moving in an emergency and pairs well with other options to then allow the vehicle to make it to a nearby service center.

Emergency DEF

Then, when you need to find a nearby service location for an emergency or for routine maintenance, you can consult with us. Epika’s partnerships allow for a wide range of locations for a variety of different services all across the country. You can view our locator, or you can reach out to set up a partnership with us ahead of time.

6 Tips to Help You Grow Your Truck Repair Business in 2023

Fleet mechanics and truck repair businesses face ongoing challenges, but one of the most important is business growth. In order to provide the best possible service to the largest number of customers, you need to grow your truck repair business, but it can often be difficult to know how to stimulate that growth.

2023 and beyond is a time of opportunity but also a time of challenge.

  • Economic growth and increasing domestic shipping means there’s a larger than ever demand for trucks and, consequently, the people to keep them in good working order.
  • Companies looking to cut costs are switching to “just in time” or “breakfix” scheduling for maintenance, meaning that truck repair is less about routine maintenance and more about larger, more complex repairs.
  • Increasing investment in green technologies, electric or hybrid trucks, and trucks equipped with more complex computer systems all means that the job of a mechanic is more complex than ever before.
  • Many companies are shifting to prefer smaller, more local or regional repair companies rather than national chains, with the assumption that those smaller businesses are more reliant on their fleet business and thus provide better services and support.
  • Truck and fleet repair businesses are more proactively marketing themselves rather than relying on word-of-mouth to grow; as such, competition seems fiercer than ever before, even if it’s not new players in the space.

If you operate a truck repair business, how do you navigate this landscape to grow your business without cornering yourself with high expenses, dissatisfied customers, disgruntled workers, and spiraling disasters? Here are our top tips to help you grow your business.

1: Work to Fight the Mechanic’s Stigma

The mechanic’s stigma comes from the reputation amongst people in general that mechanics are in a position of power, able to essentially fabricate problems in a vehicle and claim necessary repairs when no such repairs are actually required – or to claim repairs are performed without actually doing the work. While this kind of fraud does happen occasionally – often in consumer repair chains rather than fleet-scale shops – it’s generally quite rare.

All of this is on top of the current trend of reduced business trust.

“The rapid spread of misinformation, concerns over how online businesses collect and use personal data, and a deluge of branded content all contribute to a fundamental shift — we just don’t trust businesses anymore.

Consumers are also becoming more impatient, more demanding, and more independent.” – Hubspot.

The fact that such an opinion is prominent is a challenge. As a truck repair business owner, part of your job is to convince potential and existing customers that you’re one of the trustworthy businesses. As mentioned above, more and more fleets are turning to local and regional business groups rather than national chains, so smaller businesses may have a bit of an advantage here.

Mechanic Stigma

How can you strive to fight this negative reputation?

  • Provide the best repairs you can, using high-quality parts, regardless of whether they’re OEM or aftermarket.
  • Avoid unnecessary surcharges or added fees; repeat business is more valuable in the long run.
  • Be responsive and communicative with any and all customers, potential customers, and others who may engage with your business.
  • Whenever there’s a problem, do your best to make things right, even if it costs you.
  • Promote transparency in service, in billing, and elsewhere throughout your business.
  • Encourage customers to leave testimonials and reviews on your website, on social media, and on sites like the BBB; more visible, positive reviews help to encourage more customers.

The industry will always have a dark side attached to it, but by positioning your business as a trustworthy option in your service area, you can build a loyal customer base.

2: Invest in Marketing

Today, modern businesses often live or die based on the quality of their marketing. Truck repair businesses that rely on traditional marketing channels – like print ads, direct mailers, word of mouth, and TV or radio advertising – are going to struggle. Modern marketing requires the use of modern technology and channels.

Invest in Marketing

Here are some examples of what you can do:

  • Invest in your website. A well-designed website with a variety of features, such as live chat with representatives, online service and appointment scheduling, and even billing, can be extremely useful.
  • Create and run (or outsource) a blog. Content marketing is a huge part of how modern marketing works. Whenever someone is searching for a nearby truck repair business, you want them to be able to find your website, and content is how you do so.
  • Spend time on social media. You don’t need to be on 24/7 posting every single day, but you should post at least once per week and monitor messages and comments daily. You can also use social media to promote deals, proactive maintenance tips, and helpful information for drivers and fleet managers.
  • Build local partnerships. For example, you could partner with a nearby café to provide free or discounted coffee and lunch to drivers waiting on their vehicles.

Unfortunately, the modern world of commerce revolves around good marketing. It’s not a practice that can be ignored if you want your business to grow.

3: Keep Your Facilities Staffed with Happy Employees

A truck repair business lives or dies based on the quality of the service it provides. Everything else, all the trappings of marketing and customer service, are only valuable if your core repair and maintenance services are solid.

Good repair and maintenance services can only be provided by content, happy, and satisfied employees. When you have service technicians handling oil changes, experienced mechanics providing unique repair services and diagnostics, computer specialists working with the onboard telemetry systems and GPS, and front desk employees keeping everything on track and running smoothly, you have a lot of people to keep happy.

Happy Employees

To help keep your employees happy, you can do things such as:

  • Track employee performance through useful metrics. For example, tracking how fast tasks are completed encourages cutting corners, but tracking the incidence of mistakes can be more relevant.
  • Make sure your repair bays are kept as comfortable as possible, particularly in the hottest and coldest months.
  • Provide positive feedback and regular showings of appreciation for your staff – not just your top performers – to encourage everyone to remain engaged with your operations.
  • Maintain open lines of communication and feedback, and strive to make positive changes when necessary to improve the overall morale and job satisfaction of your staff.
  • Keep an eye out for conflicts and toxic employees who might be making the workplace more difficult for others; a rockstar mechanic might perform well on their own, but if they make everyone else miserable, that value isn’t worth holding onto.
  • Needless to say, providing appropriate pay rates, benefits, workload and hours flexibility, work/life balance, and so on is all critical.

Job satisfaction is a moving target. Often, you don’t even have to be perfect in every respect; you just need to demonstrate a willingness to take feedback and improve.

4: Improve the Customer Experience

Every part of the customer experience, from the moment someone is considering booking your services to the honeymoon period after they’ve received service but before they need it again, needs to be optimized.

Customer Experience

Here are some examples of what you can do.

  • Make communication as easy as possible through various channels, including phone, texting, web chat, email, and social media. Have someone available to monitor these lines of communication at all times.
  • Provide a robust set of options for drivers dropping off trucks, including a stocked waiting area (or local partnerships as mentioned above), pickup/drop-off/shuttle services, and anything else you can use to add value.
  • Provide customized and personalized reminders for appointments with all the relevant information, both during the lead-up to service and for routine maintenance reminders.
  • Always be available to answer any questions, customize service to the needs of the fleet managers or owner-operators getting service, and provide transparency and problem-solving as necessary.
  • Create and promote a customer loyalty program to give individual drivers or fleets additional rewards, discounts, coupons, added services, or other perks for coming back time and again. Whenever possible, apply this automatically so you don’t leave customers feeling bad for forgetting to apply it.

Don’t be afraid to make things right, even if it costs you. Salvaging a relationship damaged by a bad experience, such that you retain the customer, is more valuable in the long run.

5: Invest in Expanded Services

Growth means different things to different business owners. Too often, “growth” means the growth of revenue and profits, which end up funneled into the pockets of the owner and management. Unfortunately, this doesn’t actually grow a business. Employees who see workloads and revenue increasing but don’t see that revenue reinvested in salaries, benefits, or improvements to the business are going to lose morale and motivation to give it their all.

Always make sure to set aside some revenue to reinvest in improving the business. This might mean bonuses or raises for staff. It might mean replacing aging tools and machinery. It might mean purchasing new tools and machines to expand your available services or make existing services easier. For example, drones can help with 360-degree inspections, and more advanced computer systems can use truck telemetry for better diagnostics. Cameras can make in-depth inspections easier, and so on.

Expanded Service

Managing a budget can be very complex, and you aren’t always going to have the perfect way to spend every dollar. The best you can do is consider the cost/benefit analysis for various uses for your revenue. Which is more likely to have positive returns: investing in marketing, in mechanic salaries, in hiring more staff, in purchasing new tools? There’s no one answer. Instead, you simply need to determine in the moment which will have the larger impact.

Remember the 80-20 rule; 80% of results come from 20% of your efforts. 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your customers. Understanding the most important aspects of your shop and your business will help guide your reinvestment.

6: Expand Specialties

There are a lot of different ways you can take a core truck repair business and expand beyond the baseline services everyone expects.


Options include:

  • Hiring technicians with training on specialized vehicles, like hybrids, specific brand ecosystems, or electric trucks. Many baseline shops can’t handle specialized vehicles, so adding the services grants you access to customers you otherwise wouldn’t have.
  • Similarly, you can expand into heavy machinery. Diggers, movers, and other large machines require specialized knowledge but can earn you exclusive contracts.
  • Provide more specialized seasonal services such as winterization or pre-winter inspections, more focused tire attention, and so on.
  • Offer travel services within a service area. If a truck breaks down unexpectedly on the road, have technicians available to go out and work on it in the field or the equipment necessary to bring it back and fix it up.
  • Offer the option to purchase and configure various aftermarket fleet tracking and telemetry systems, complete with software setup for the fleet manager if necessary.

There’s no end to the variety of services you can offer as long as you have the people with the training to offer them and the means to supply parts as necessary.

Consider Partnering with Us

Another option to help you grow your truck repair business is to partner with us. At Epika, we pride ourselves in working with over a dozen top brands across the nation to provide anywhere, anytime service to fleets, owner-operators, and more. Whether it’s emergency repairs, regular maintenance, or anything in between, we help provide those services.

Partnering With Epika

We can’t do it without people like you. Operating a truck repair business is hard work, and you face many challenges, but with a partnership on your side, you gain access to many more contacts, resources, and options.

If a partnership sounds like a good option, you can read about the benefits and reach out to contact us here. We’re always happy to discuss the options, and if you have any questions, please feel free to let us know. We’ll gladly assist you however we can.

The Benefits of GPS Vehicle Tracking for Fleet Management

Fleet management has come a long way with modern technology. There was a time when tracking the locations, destinations, and travel times of fleet vehicles was a matter of paperwork – lots and lots of paperwork. Today, computerized systems can keep track of everything with ease and can even use real-time traffic condition information to make dynamic adjustments to routes, arrival estimates, and more.

One powerful tool in the arsenal of any fleet manager is fleet tracking using GPS modules. Sometimes, these are built into the vehicle; others, they’re modules you install on your own. Either way, by linking to a system of satellites in orbit, accurate location information can be sent to a centralized computer system at all times.

Some people question the utility of these systems, so today, we’re going to run through the many benefits of GPS vehicle tracking for fleets.

Benefit 1: Route Optimization

Perhaps the biggest benefit to comprehensive GPS vehicle tracking across your fleet is the ability to use software to optimize routes and planning, and all of the many ways that can benefit your fleet across the board.

Route Optimization

For example:

  • When picking a driver and vehicle for a job, you can automatically identify the one most nearby that is not otherwise occupied, reducing the overall mileage driven and improving response times.
  • Route planning can help identify bottlenecks, traffic backups, and other locations that should be avoided, either temporarily or indefinitely, and can route vehicles around those areas.
  • Optimized route planning can provide a variety of benefits to areas such as reducing your carbon footprint, reducing fuel consumption and costs, reducing mileage and wear on vehicles, adapting to changing conditions in real-time, and much more.

With as many potential benefits as computerized route planning has, it’s even better when you have real-time knowledge of where every vehicle is, where it’s going, how long it will take to get there, and what route it’s taking. Without location tracking, all you have are estimates.

Benefit 2: Driver Behavior Monitoring and Improvement

Driver behavior can play a surprisingly large role in fleet management. Proper defensive driving can improve fuel efficiency, reduce wear on vehicles, prevent accidents, and even result in happier and more effective drivers.

Without some means of tracking vehicle movement and telemetry data, however, you don’t have any way to identify driver behavior beyond incident reports and self-reported behavior. With GPS location tracking, you can monitor locations, speeds, and speed changes, all of which can give you valuable information about driver behavior.

More advanced fleet tracking systems do more than just track location via GPS. They can also track telemetry data from the vehicle’s onboard computer and can even provide additional detection for driver behaviors. You can identify anything from fuel fraud to harsh acceleration and braking to off-route driving to distracted driving.

Behavior Monitoring

Per ITConvergence:

“Recent studies show that some of the benefits fleets can obtain from IoT fleet monitoring systems include:

Fuel economy increased by 20%

Economical driving improved by 15%

Harsh-braking incidents decreased by 75%

Engine idle time down 60%

Driving hours decreased by 20%

Safety incidents reduced by 20%

Compliance increased by 15%”.

Perhaps more importantly, you can identify drivers who don’t violate policies and proactively reward those drivers. These driver incentives both provide incentives to noncompliant drivers to adjust their behaviors and reinforce those behaviors amongst compliant drivers.

Benefit 3: Cost Improvements

Time is money.

Knowing where your vehicles are allows you to send the closest applicable vehicle to whatever need you must fulfill. Shorter routes, faster responses, and more optimized routes can all save time and money.

All of these also save money by reducing mileage and wear on vehicles. Yes, we’ve already mentioned this, but it bears repeating: the costs saved can be immense, especially in larger and more distributed fleets.

Cost Improvements

Another way you can save money is by reducing premiums on fleet vehicle insurance. Insurance companies are well aware of the many benefits of GPS tracking and often offer discounts for fleets that implement it to their standards. Some estimates claim you can save as much as 35% off of your insurance costs.

You can also proactively understand when your fleet is reaching capacity and can justify purchasing another vehicle or when your workload is improperly balanced and you have vehicles being underutilized.

Benefit 4: Proactive Problem Identification

There are many possible problems that vehicles in a fleet, or a fleet as a whole, can encounter in daily business. GPS can’t solve all of them, but it can help with some of them.

Proactive Problem

These include:

  • GPS can tap into map information that monitors traffic in real-time and can identify areas where traffic is backed up or stuck at a standstill, identifying alternate routes ahead of time so your vehicles can avoid slow, idling, or less efficient detours.
  • GPS can monitor accident information and take steps to reroute around road closures and other issues that crop up with little or no warning.
  • GPS can monitor vehicles on an individual basis. When the fuel efficiency, speeds, or other behaviors reach certain thresholds, it can indicate a problem with the vehicle that can be solved with preventative maintenance, often before the driver even consciously notices the issue.
  • Vehicles can be given leeway to travel within a given area, but geofencing can send alerts to dispatch or the fleet manager when the vehicle leaves that allowable area.

This just scratches the surface of what can be done with a combination of GPS tracking, vehicle telemetry, and driver monitoring.

Benefit 5: Loss Prevention

Perhaps one of the biggest benefits to a fleet provided by GPS tracking is loss prevention. Whether it’s pickup trucks or semi-trailers, GPS tracking is always active and will phone home with the location of vehicles even when those vehicles aren’t in active operation, such as overnight.

Alerts can notify you when vehicles or assets move outside of their expected area or even when they move unexpectedly when they shouldn’t, such as overnight when a driver is at home or asleep.

In the worst-case scenario, when assets are stolen, GPS tracking can allow their swift recovery. With active monitoring from home base, police can be notified even before a theft is completed, and the response times can be swifter than you’ve ever thought possible.

Loss Prevention

This isn’t hypothetical, either. Here’s a real case where GPS saved a company.

“The organized ring of thieves struck when they thought nobody was watching: in the middle of the night on a weekend. One by one, they drove off with ten trucks and trailers from the lot of Diamond Landscapes, a commercial landscape company serving central Kentucky.

The potential loss of these vehicles, valued at over $500,000, could have devastated the company as they waited for insurance to help them recover and resume operations. Just one catch – Diamond Landscapes saw the whole crime unfold in near-real time.

The thieves didn’t know about the fleet management technology within the vehicles. Using an app, it was easy for company officials to watch their trucks moving as they were being stolen. They called the police. A high-speed chase quickly ended when the owner of Diamond Landscapes, Chris Trower, was able to share location data with law enforcement.

Every stolen truck and trailer was recovered. Instead of waiting weeks or months to resume operations, Diamond got back to its full-service landscaping and snow removal business right away.” – Contractor Magazine.

Of course, an incident like this will still be hugely disruptive to a fleet even if the vehicles are recovered nearly immediately. GPS tracking can’t prevent thefts, other than in the sense that if thieves are aware that GPS tracking is enabled, they may be less likely to attempt to steal the vehicles. It’s a reactive but valuable service GPS tracking can provide.

Benefit 6: Fraud and Misuse Detection

In some cases, drivers may wish to use a work vehicle for purposes outside of work. Maybe they want to take the truck home with them for a task to save on fuel costs or rental expenses. Maybe they’re abusing a company gas fund for personal use. Maybe they go out of their way on a route to provide some kind of ride-sharing on the side.

Fraud and Misuse

Whatever the case, these kinds of fraud and misuse can, in part, be detected by GPS tracking systems.

“There may be times when your drivers use your vehicles for their errands. For example, they may stop off to see a friend or relative or to do some other errands without asking for prior permission. To hide the fact, they may tell you that the delay was due to traffic or an accident or being stopped by the law enforcement authorities. Another common one is when they make long-distance journeys but decide to go their own way rather than staying on the agreed route. This may cause more expense in terms of fuel costs.” – Veturilo.

When such abuse is detected, swift action can be taken, and investigations can be launched. GPS evidence is proof and justification.

Benefit 7: Reduction of Paperwork and Data Entry

A key benefit to GPS tracking is that, while many (though not all) of these benefits can be done in other ways, those ways require immense amounts of active data entry and human analysis. By using GPS tracking and computerized tools for fleet management, you can offload the data entry to APIs and automatic systems, you can use complex algorithms to solve routing problems, and you can deliver route instructions directly to drivers without needing to mess with phone calls or dispatch.

Paperwork and Data Entry

While it might not seem like much, any reduction in paperwork and data entry is excellent. Not only does it help modernize a business, but it also reduces carbon footprint and, more importantly, the potential for human error.

Benefit 8: Proactive and Preventative Maintenance Improvements

In addition to the above-listed ways in which GPS tracking can reduce mileage and wear and tear on vehicles, you can also use it to proactively schedule preventative maintenance. Instead of having to funnel all of your vehicles back to a central shop to have work done on them, you can automatically use the GPS tracking system to identify nearby maintenance providers. Then, by making those providers part of your route planning, you can ensure that any time maintenance or inspections are necessary, the vehicle is near a location.


To build up a network of service providers rapidly, you can work with us. At Epika, we partner with businesses across the nation to provide fleet maintenance services virtually anywhere your vehicles could end up. You can find locations near you quickly and easily with our map and integrate that knowledge into your GPS tracking with ease.

Common Concerns with GPS Tracking

GPS tracking isn’t necessarily all upside, though we believe the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. It’s still worth mentioning a few concerns or issues with the system.

Is GPS tracking even legal? Yes, in general. Some states in the US and some countries around the world may prohibit it or may require that you inform your drivers and get their consent, but since you can make that a condition of employment, it’s not a high bar to clear.


What data is tracked? Location data is essentially the only data point collected by a GPS tracker. However, computer systems can extrapolate other data from this, including average speeds, instances of hard acceleration or braking, and so on. Some tracking systems integrate more than just GPS, including driver monitoring, idle monitoring, and more, but those are outside the scope of today’s discussion.

Aren’t GPS systems inaccurate? Not really. Modern GPS is a very refined system – just about every smartphone has a good one in it – but cheap systems can have signal strength issues on occasion. Generally, investing in a middle- to high-quality system will alleviate these issues. Sometimes, in rural areas, GPS can struggle (especially if the system piggybacks off cell signals), but usually, that’s not a huge problem.

So, what are you waiting for? The benefits of GPS fleet tracking are immense, and while it can take some time and a skilled technician to install the systems, it’s well worth the effort. Plus, we can help. Our network of partner businesses is full of experienced technicians more than capable of installing a system for you. Just reach out to get started or to ask us any questions you may have.

5 Effective Strategies for Fleets to Improve Fuel Efficiency

Fuel costs are one of the largest ongoing expenses for any fleet, whether you have a few trucks tooling around a local area or a massive logistics network spanning the continent. Fuel is an ongoing expense, and it’s fickle, with diesel prices rising and falling according to factors far outside of our control. It stands to reason that you’d want to reduce these costs as much as possible, but how can you do so as a fleet manager? Here are five potential strategies you can try.

1: Optimize Routing

Depending on the kind of fleet you manage, you may be able to put some serious effort into optimizing the routes your trucks take. This is difficult in cases where you’re working on an ad hoc basis, sending trucks to destinations on call or as needed. On the other hand, when you have possible planned routes in advance, you can plan routes that optimize fuel usage.

And no, shorter, more direct routes aren’t always better. Anyone who has gotten stuck on a backed-up highway waiting for a traffic jam to clear when a longer but faster surface road route would have long since sufficed can attest to that.

One of the biggest examples of fuel-efficient routing is the much-cited UPS policy of (almost) never turning left.

In the US, since we drive on the right side of the road, left turns are turns across traffic. For residential delivery routes, companies like UPS might find their drivers making a lot of left turns from arterial roads into residential areas or from residential areas onto arterial roads. In both cases, there’s a lot of idling and waiting for an opportunity to turn, which is all time spent burning diesel.


Famously, UPS chooses routes for their drivers with an eye toward fuel efficiency, not the shortest distance. A destination to the left might, instead, involve three right turns. But since all of those turns involve zero waiting, it’s a much faster route, which means less time with the engine running.

“UPS has designed their vehicle routing software to eliminate as many left-hand turns as possible (in countries with right-hand traffic). Typically, only 10 percent of the turns are left turns. As a result, the company claims it uses 10m gallons less fuel, emits 20,000 tons less carbon dioxide, and delivers 350,000 more packages every year. The efficiency of planning routes with its navigation software this way has even helped the firm cut the number of trucks it uses by 1,100, bringing down the company’s total distance traveled by 28.5 million miles – despite the longer routes.” – GE News.

Now, most fleets aren’t working with as complex a set of routes, ever-changing from day to day, with as many different locations and vehicles as UPS. Your fleet’s savings might be orders of magnitude smaller, but the fact remains that efficient routing with a focus on fuel usage will be an optimization.

Left turns aren’t the only source of excess fuel consumption, either. Taking routes with hills rather than flatter routes, taking routes that have extended stops or stop-and-go traffic, and other small optimizations can have significant impacts across a whole fleet.

2: Train Drivers on Efficient Driving

The manner in which a driver operates a vehicle can have a surprisingly large impact on the fuel efficiency of that vehicle. Studies have shown that efficient driving can actually reduce the fuel consumed by as much as 35%.

“According to ATA’s Technology and Maintenance Council (TMC), the most skilled drivers can produce as much as 35% better mpg than less-skilled truck operators. Driver education, accordingly, is one of the most important tools in the large truck fuel economy arsenal. Even the most experienced truck drivers can improve their skills and enhance driving performance through training programs.” – Fleet Owner.

So, what kinds of habits and training can improve fuel efficiency?

Train Drivers

Here are a handful of examples:

  • Eliminate aggressive driving habits, like sudden speed increases or braking. Instead, slower, more gradual acceleration and deceleration (outside of emergencies, of course) will result in the vehicle being better able to leverage its power without burning excess fuel to do it.
  • Using driver’s assistance like cruise control to maintain steady, consistent speeds on long highway journeys.
  • Keeping speeds lower. It costs 27% more fuel on average to keep a truck moving at 75 mph than at 65 mph; while a lower speed might be slower in time spent, the fuel efficiency is worthwhile.

These and other techniques may not have any significant impact on a per-driver, per-trip, per-habit basis. However, taken as a whole across an entire fleet, the savings can be significant.

“In combination with training programs, fleet managers can encourage drivers to adopt efficient driving by offering incentives, such as recognition and special privileges. In combination with other fuel management strategies, incentivizing efficient driving behaviors and offering driver training programs can reduce fuel spending.” – Department of Energy.

Offering incentives to drivers to promote proactive, efficient driving can be very beneficial as well.

3: Be Proactive with Vehicle Maintenance

Many aspects of a vehicle can be a drag, both on the mental and emotional state of the drivers and on the physical performance of the vehicle.

  • Lower tire pressure results in more friction with the road, increasing the fuel needed to build and maintain speed. It also increases wear on tires and risks time-consuming blowouts and other failures.
  • Poor air filters clog up and reduce throughput, resulting in less ventilated engines, poor fuel economy, and hotter running temperatures. Even running the HVAC puts added stress on the system and burns more fuel when the air filters are clogged.
  • Old oil gums up the works of an engine and reduces fuel efficiency.
  • Other forms of maintenance can affect the performance of a truck directly or the attitude and ability of a driver to drive efficiently.

We’ve written extensively about proactive fleet maintenance. Small things like routine oil changes and inspections, as well as larger aspects of a truck’s engine and drivetrain, can all make a significant difference in fuel efficiency.

A critical part of proactive maintenance is also knowing when enough is enough. Sometimes, a particular vehicle reaches a point where the investment required to keep it moving is more than it’s worth. While this is often calculated with the cost of repairs versus the cost of replacement in mind, the actual threshold should be higher: the cost of repairs plus the cost of continued inefficiency compared to the cost of replacement.

Proactive Maintenance

Luckily, if you need ongoing maintenance for your fleet, we’re here to help. Our network of partners provides nationwide coverage for service and repair, no matter where you are. Whether you need emergency repairs, roadside assistance, or just routine maintenance at your destination, we have a partner there waiting for you.

Keeping an aging, ailing truck on the road, even if the actual cost of repairs is minimal (for now), might not actually be worthwhile if the issues it has are causing undue fuel consumption, increasing those costs as well.

Additionally, often newer models of trucks are designed with better standards, better parts, and better efficiency in mind. They aren’t always perfect – we all have counter-examples of times when a newer model drops the ball – but many modern improvements make it well worth the investment.

And that’s all before even thinking about things like hybrid vehicles with built-in solar, battery banks, electric drive systems, and other alternative fuel sources.

4: Track and Analyze Data

One of the biggest challenges of monitoring fuel consumption and making improvements is knowing when and how to make those changes, which changes you should make, and what effect they have.

Luckily, today, you don’t need to force drivers to fill out miles of paperwork for every trip they take, and every maintenance stop they make. Computerized systems can handle all of that for you. You can track fuel economy and cost per mile, track when fuel stops are made (and flag suspicious fuel transactions), monitor performance and mileage via GPS, and correlate it all with a variety of useful data points relating to maintenance logs and more.

Analyze Data

This lets you do two things in general.

First, you can reactively respond to anything noteworthy in the data you gather. If a certain route proves to be less efficient than expected, you can reroute it. If a given truck is having problems, you can assign a different truck to the task. If a driver is consistently underperforming, you can flag them for training. If a suspicious fuel purchase is made that doesn’t track, you can investigate for fraud.

Second, you can proactively analyze, predict, and optimize your fleet and systems. Assign newer vehicles with more efficient drivers on more complex or longer routes for better savings. Identify potential choke points and hazards to avoid. You can even adjust the size and organization of your fleet to better suit your needs.

“Rightsizing can mean two different things depending on the fleet. It can entail reducing the number of vehicles, transitioning to a smaller fleet, or incorporating more fuel-efficient vehicles. By evaluating their fleet, managers can conserve fuel, reduce emissions, save money on fuel and maintenance, and optimize vehicle use. To rightsize their fleet, managers must understand their fleet’s daily vehicle use and needs, which can be analyzed on their telematics solution.” – Assetworks.

There are a variety of different software platforms and management systems you can use to track, analyze, and optimize all of the above. Apps like Fleetio, FuelCHEX, Autosist, and more are all available. We don’t have a specific recommendation – a lot depends on your fleet and the specifics of your circumstances – so shop around for one with the features and integrations you like.

5: Invest in Better Vehicles

There are a lot of different ways that more modern vehicles can improve fuel efficiency. The simplest is just that more modern designs tend to be more fuel-efficient by default, through design and through optimization to use fuel in better ways. However, there are other potential benefits as well, including:

  • Lighter parts. Older vehicles tend to use more heavy steel parts, whereas newer vehicles might integrate lighter aluminum, alloys, or even carbon fiber for some portions of the vehicle. Less weight means less drag and inertia to overcome, meaning less fuel used to do it.
  • Retrofitting of newer parts. Sometimes, it doesn’t quite make sense to replace a truck, but you can replace parts in that truck’s engine or chassis to improve efficiency or weight distribution for the truck.
  • Investing in hybrid vehicles. Hybrids generally are primarily electric vehicles with a diesel backup for when the batteries get low. Generally, electric motors are going to cost less per mile than diesel engines. There are also hybrids with biofuels, alternative fuels, and other kinds of power, though these tend to be less common and harder to use without existing infrastructure.

While there are still a lot of barriers between the way fleets operate today and the infrastructure, policies, and availability necessary for a fully hybrid or electric fleet, changes are being made to push in that direction. It’s easier than ever to find electric charging stations, and the cost of vehicles, parts, and maintenance are dropping, so the investment is looking better than ever each year.

Better Vehicles

This isn’t an immediate benefit, of course. Buying new vehicles is a significant expense, and even the savings from greater fuel efficiency will take a while to pay it off. However, keeping an eye on the future whenever you need to invest in an overhaul or a replacement is going to benefit you over time.

Whatever combination of techniques you choose to use, we can tell you one thing: having a nationwide partner capable of helping you with any problems your fleet encounters, large or small, will go a long way. That’s what we’re here for; all of your fleet maintenance, upkeep, and repairs through one agency, with partnerships and facilities all across the country. Old trucks that need repairs and upkeep? New models you want to keep in pristine condition as long as possible? Small, regional fleets or large national networks? Whatever it is, we can handle it, so give us a call to talk about what we can do for you.

The Current and Upcoming Regulations on Fleet Management

Operating a commercial fleet is no easy task. From ongoing maintenance to logistics to dispatch and location tracking, there’s a seemingly never-ending number of details that need to be monitored and handled appropriately to avoid disaster.

As if all of that wasn’t enough, there’s always the government here to step in and add more burden to the pile. Regulations are important, of course – they generally revolve around safety and broad concerns like environmental impact that companies on their own often ignore – but that doesn’t mean it’s easy or that you have to like it.

Managing a commercial fleet means paying attention to laws, regulations, and ordinances that govern what you can and can’t do. These include everything from laws about drug testing for drivers to regulations on working hours to controls over emissions and vehicle maintenance. There’s a lot to know.

Moreover, it’s never static. These regulations tend to change every few years, and the direction they change is often determined by which political party is in control of the national government.

How Important is Regulatory Compliance?

Complying with regulatory instructions is a matter of money, but more than that, it’s a matter of safety. Regulations exist to enforce safe behavior, safe operations, safe vehicles, and a safe environment. But it’s not just about the world around us; it’s about our drivers. Regulations on behaviors (and on companies that would put policies in place to pressure drivers if not prevented) help prevent injuries, collisions, distracted driving, and more. Safer drivers are happier drivers, and happier drivers are better drivers.

So, while violating regulations can result in fines and other penalties, following those regulations helps increase efficiency, employee safety and retention, overall engagement and satisfaction, and more. While the “ulterior motives” of the regulations vary, the outcomes tend to be beneficial, even if they may not feel like it initially.

Epika Truck

Some regulations are hoops to jump through. Some are annoyances that don’t seem like they impact anyone day-to-day. Others seem like nothing more than unnecessary expenses. Some are a matter of life and death. 

Luckily, if anything, fleet managers are more in tune with regulations than ever before, and an increasing number are proactively looking for information about them. Increasing regulatory awareness is a top priority for 42% of fleet managers, according to recent surveys. Other findings are heartening:

“The number of fleet managers prioritizing the safe and correct operation of specific vehicle types by their drivers has increased by 39% compared to 2022. 

  • The importance of quickly identifying vehicle or trailer damage or non-compliance has risen by 24% from last year.
  • There has been a 13% increase in the value placed on having all driver files consolidated in one place, enabling fleet managers to demonstrate compliance easily.”

Companies prioritizing regulatory compliance – especially in the realms of safety and security for drivers – tend to have more positive responses from drivers and other employees, which cascades into safer operations, more effective and happier employees, and more efficient operations.

Upcoming Regulations on Fleet Management

The tricky part of covering upcoming regulations on fleet management is how things change and how often they change in advance of other changes even taking effect. 

For example, the year is 2023, nearing its end, yet current concerns surrounding emissions are putting rules in place for new model year trucks being manufactured. Except, it’s not for 2024s trucks, which have been available for some time now already. It’s not even for 2025 trucks; it’s still on the horizon for a little more money.

Upcoming Regs

No, current EPA standards and rules – including a 1,100-page comprehensive rulebook – are targeting the 2027 year for fleet vehicles. Emissions are always a long-term concern, so forward-looking attention is warranted.

“We estimate that the final rule will reduce [NOx] emissions from heavy-duty vehicles in 2040 by more than 40%; by 2045, a year by which most of the regulated fleet will have turned over, heavy-duty NOX emissions will be almost 50% lower than they would have been without this action.” – Fleet Owner

Even the most militant climate activists can recognize that there’s a delay between the recognition of needed improvements and the implementation of those improvements, and the EPA is still largely conservative in their efforts, even if the numbers may not seem like it.

One of the greatest challenges that fleet managers face when it comes to national regulations is how often legislation is bundled together. A single clause in a most unrelated bill can nevertheless have dramatic ripples throughout other industries. 

Currently, the next big bipartisan bill coming down the pipe is the next farm bill. While it’s always difficult to predict what will and what won’t make it through, it’s certainly a bill worth paying attention to. It’s even more relevant if you’re a fleet manager operating in the agricultural space.

Other regulations to watch out for include the following.

1. Increasing Incentives For Low-Emission Trucks

Environmental concerns are a large part of the impetus for many current regulations. In addition to the above-mentioned EPA guidance on 2027 models, there are IRS guidelines in the Inflation Reduction Act that offer bonus incentives for alternative fuel vehicles. Fleets purchasing non-diesel and non-gasoline commercial vehicles can be eligible for up to $40,000 in tax credits per vehicle. This is great news for any fleet currently facing turnover in vehicles; retiring older vehicles and investing in zero-emission vehicles is a better proposition than ever.


Note that the tax credits apply per vehicle, and there are two categories. Known as the Commercial Clean Vehicle Credit, here are the IRS rules:

“Businesses and tax-exempt organizations that buy a qualified commercial clean vehicle may qualify for a clean vehicle tax credit of up to $40,000 under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) 45W. The credit equals the lesser of:

  • 15% of your basis in the vehicle (30% if the vehicle is not powered by gas or diesel)
  • The incremental cost of the vehicle

The maximum credit is $7,500 for qualified vehicles with gross vehicle weight ratings (GVWRs) of under 14,000 pounds and $40,000 for all other vehicles.”

Nothing is ever simple, so there are rules both about which businesses can qualify to claim the credit and what kinds of vehicles can qualify to claim the credit, both of which can be found on the above-linked IRS page.

2. Further Rollout of the FMCSA Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, several years ago, began the creation and adoption of the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse is a centralized database of CDL holders and employers. It serves as a place to look up information about citations for drug and alcohol violations from drivers. Drivers caught violating clean driving rules are put on return-to-duty status, which prevents them from legally driving until they pass various counseling and tests, which can stretch from months to years.

What this does is allow for a centralized and trusted source of information for violations, eliminating the need for fleet managers to query past employers or drivers directly about their histories (and providing a means to verify the truth of statements made.) 

Testing Employees

To date, nearly 90,000 drivers have been censured but have not completed their courses, meaning they’re either driving illegally or have given up commercial driving. That represents a significant increase in safety across the board.

Further developments in the near future include proactive notifications; any company that has looked up a driver in the past year will get a notification if that driver receives a new updated status (positive or negative) rather than needing to periodically check again. 

One caveat here is that the Clearinghouse has not yet accepted the Trucking Alliance’s push to include hair testing as part of their informational dataset. Despite broad support, it turns out, it’s not up to the FMCSA; the Department of Health and Human Services needs to make that ruling, which they’re expected to do by the end of the year.

“Only results obtained via urinalysis are accepted into the Clearinghouse, though the DOT also has sanctioned oral fluid testing. The efficacy and fairness of hair testing have been debated for years, and major stakeholders such as the Trucking Alliance and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association have drawn battle lines over the issue, with studies favoring one viewpoint or another.” – Fleet Maintenance.

3. Battles Over Independent Contractor Status

One of the biggest recent battlegrounds in employment has been the increasing fight surrounding independent contracting.

To summarize, independent contractors are afforded less in the way of benefits, support, or investment from companies; they typically have to cover their own taxes, don’t get benefits like company healthcare or 401(k) matching, and have much less protection from wrongful termination.

Ostensibly, being an independent contractor affords the contractor certain liberties, like the option to work for many companies at their leisure, to demand pay rates they can justify, and to set their own hours. Realistically, though, companies still hold all the power, and a driver making demands outside the norm can simply be ignored in favor of more desperate drivers who lack the opportunity to resist being exploited.


Over the last two decades, more and more industries have been shifting – or “being disrupted” – to or through the use of independent contractors instead of employees. Everything from taxis being overrun by Uber to fleet companies shifting from employed drivers to contracted drivers has been growing over time.

Trump-era regulations shifted the battleground and made it easier to classify certain groups of workers as contractors. Biden has attempted to roll it back, to no avail, but the Department of Labor is looking into more balancing of the factors involved to promote worker rights and provide more consistency throughout industries.

This is a fight with no clear end in sight, so it’s something that many fleet managers need to keep an eye on as it shakes out.

4. Examining the Use of Speed Governors

Another proposal currently under scrutiny is the use of electronic control units to restrict the speeds of trucks on highways. Proponents claim that slower speeds increase reaction leeway, result in fewer collisions and less grievous injuries in the collisions that happen, and result in overall safer highways. Conversely, opponents point to increased driver frustration (from truck drivers as well as from passenger vehicles) leading to more reckless driving, increased collisions, and generally unsafe conditions.

Speed Governors

While many fleets currently already use speed governors to regulate the speeds of their fleets, the idea of national laws restricting speeds in a one-size-fits-all solution is one that sees a lot of resistance from both sides. Conditions vary; so too should the restrictions and policies across the nation. Of course, this complexity never makes it easy for fleet managers, particularly those operating nationally.

Looking to the Future

Truthfully, nothing is ever certain in fleet management and commercial trucking. Whether it’s different administrations doing battle over repealing previous regulations, the push-and-pull of interests on both sides of an issue, or just the slow, often plodding nature of how these things move through the government, the best any of us can do is keep aware of what impacts fleets and logistics.


The best advice we can give is to be as proactive as possible, with an eye towards social, environmental, and economic concerns. There’s an ever-growing amount of attention paid to climate and environmental impact, for example, so this may make it more sensible to replace aging vehicles than to keep repairing them, particularly when tax credits are involved. 

Whether it’s cybersecurity concerns, maintenance concerns, fleet management concerns, or anything else, we here at Epika are your national partners. Whether you have limited regional areas of operation and need a place to go for ongoing maintenance, or you’re operating nationally and need to know there’s always going to be a place to visit for emergencies, we’re here for you. Our extensive set of brand partnerships ensures there’s always some location nearby to provide what you need.

Do right by your drivers, let us help keep your vehicles in tip-top shape, and you’ll be well-positioned to endure any regulatory change without undue hardship.

How to Shift from Reactive to Proactive Fleet Maintenance

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” The aphorism is meant to represent the fact that taking care of yourself proactively will prevent doctor visits from built-up, unaddressed problems; in other words, proactive maintenance versus reactive repairs.

The same holds true of fleet vehicles. Consider the humble tire: It’s faster, easier, and cheaper to replace worn tires in between dispatches than it is to have to fix a blow-out on the side of a highway, right?

Reactive maintenance, or reactive repairs, is when you wait until something breaks to address the problem. 

Whether it’s worn-down tires, loose couplings, failing electronics, or an engine about to blow, it’s chaotic, unpredictable, and often expensive. Fleet managers often feel like these things come in waves, and once one thing breaks, everything around them starts failing, and the list of necessary repairs becomes mountainous.

Proactive maintenance periodically inspects and maintains fleet vehicles according to schedules. 

Even little things like tightening bolts on mounts, changing the oil, and running through a comprehensive inspection sheet can make a huge difference.

After all, it’s a lot cheaper in both money and time to perform regular oil changes than it is to fix an engine that seized.  

All of this is, while not necessarily “common sense,” at least something that most fleet managers understand in concept. The trick is actually putting that concept into practice.

Understand Your Current Maintenance Plan

It’s easy in concept to say you should shift from reactive to proactive maintenance, but the truth is, it’s rarely so cut and dry. Maybe you have part of a proactive maintenance schedule in place but have fallen far enough behind that you’ve ended up mostly reactive. Maybe aging fleet vehicles and a new contract that’s exceptionally difficult on them are both leading to more failures that need reactive repairs, and the proactive maintenance doesn’t keep up. Maybe, on paper, you have a proactive plan, but poor configuration, poor communication, and institutional hand-waving have let it slip.

Maintenance Plan

Part of a proactive maintenance plan is building investment in the maintenance of your fleet. This isn’t just from your mechanics; it’s from your drivers, from your management, and from your clients. It’s a fact of life that not every vehicle is going to be in service 100% of the time; if there are punitive penalties from management towards drivers who “take time off” for maintenance, it will only exacerbate problems.

Further, it’s unrealistic to try to eliminate all cases of reactive repairs. We live in a chaotic world where the unexpected happens all the time. Parts can have critical failure points that no one could foresee, and it’s just something that needs to be taken as it happens.

One of the benefits of proactive maintenance is a much shorter repair queue, so such catastrophic issues can be handled much more quickly.

Build a Comprehensive Maintenance Checklist

It’s not enough to know that you should be performing regular maintenance; you need to know what maintenance needs to be performed. While the broad strokes are the same across every fleet – oil changes, tire condition, other fluids, electronics – some specifics will vary. 


Special considerations can include:

  • Special attention to batteries, especially for hybrid and electric fleet vehicles.
  • Special considerations for diesel engines over other kinds of engines.
  • Adjustments to the maintenance schedule to account for the age of a vehicle.
  • Specific inspections to comply with DOT or other regulations, like emissions.
  • Scheduled reassessments of the specific schedules for individual vehicles based on usage.

There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all inspection and maintenance checklist. Even if your fleet is all one type, brand, and configuration of the vehicle, each one will be unique in terms of usage levels, wear patterns, and more. Even different drivers treating vehicles differently within their limitations can mean different wear patterns for similar vehicles.

Build as standardized a checklist as you can, but build supplements and special instructions for individual vehicles as necessary so all of your bases are covered.

Don’t Forget Unique Stresses

There are a range of different unique factors that can put stress on specific parts of a fleet vehicle and require special inspections, more frequent attention, or more frequent replacement.


Examples can include:

  • Fleet vehicles that travel in winter areas may need to deal with extra corrosion from road chemicals, and batteries are more susceptible to cold weather issues.
  • Fleet vehicles hauling extra-heavy loads put additional stress on shocks, struts, linkages, and more.
  • Heat issues in very hot areas can exacerbate problems with cooling systems for both the engine and the driver.

While these issues tend to be consistent across a whole fleet when your fleet is operating entirely in a given city or area and entirely within one industry or purpose, larger companies with multi-state or national fleets or multi-purpose fleets can see a lot of variance in wear across different types of vehicle purpose and location.

Gather Information from Drivers

There’s a phenomenon in many careers where an individual will adapt to stresses and circumstances that develop slowly, considering their personal issues rather than larger concerns. 

In fleets, this most often comes up with drivers who see “minor” problems that they need to address and start addressing them rather than reporting them to maintenance. Often, this decision is spurred on by management or other pressures that equate downtime to a loss of income or other penalty.

Driver info

In other words, drivers may be performing small maintenance tasks themselves rather than report an issue that would require some amount of downtime but fix the issue entirely because that downtime is a worse penalty than the seemingly minor hit to their day.

  • A driver finds they routinely need to add some air to their tires each morning or risk a flat in the evening. Unfortunately, they don’t realize that a tire swap is comparatively easy, while deferring it leads to undue stress on wheels, brakes, and other parts of the truck that could fail much more catastrophically later.
  • A driver suffers from HVAC failure, relying instead on battery-powered fans, windows rolled down, and other means of comfort. What they don’t know is that the electrical problem causing the issue could be much more dangerous down the line, especially if it leads to a fire in the instrument cluster or elsewhere. (This can be even worse if the driver knows enough to bypass a fuse, but not why that’s a terrible idea.)

Thus, a critical aspect of shifting from reactive maintenance to proactive maintenance is transparency with drivers. It’s essential to know all of these seemingly minor gripes, both so that they can be fixed for comfort, efficiency, and stress reduction on the driver and so that they can alleviate worse issues down the line or be used as symptoms to identify a larger underlying cause.

Transparency and responsiveness to the issues drivers experience can also be a key aspect of driver retention.

Track and Address Recalls

Recalls can be an unexpected yet critical aspect of proactive maintenance. Some recalls are both minor and voluntary, like a cracking dashboard panel that doesn’t hurt anything but cosmetics. Others can be significant, like dangerous airbags, power steering failures, and more. Tracking recalls and making sure they’re applied to your fleet vehicles is critical. 

Address Recalls

Normally, recalls are delivered to your company by mail and notification from the NHTSA and from manufacturers. However, you’re not limited just to waiting for those notifications.

“Through a proactive fleet management strategy, fleet managers can get the recall notifications earlier. You can take the proactive approach by checking NHTSA’s online recall database or consulting with your fleet management company for any recall news of vehicles you think might be affected.” – Wilmar.

Being proactive with recalls is just another element of proactive maintenance.

Leverage Data Analytics

Data analytics has become a game-changer in many industries, and fleet management is no exception. By collecting and analyzing data on vehicle performance, fleet managers can transition from reactive to proactive maintenance more effectively.

Before you can harness the power of analytics, it’s essential to set up data collection systems. Most modern fleet vehicles come with in-built telematics systems that can provide a wealth of information, from GPS location to engine temperature and fuel usage. Make sure these systems are enabled and that data is consistently recorded and transmitted to a centralized system for analysis.

Once you have a data collection system in place, the next step is to identify KPIs that are relevant to vehicle maintenance. Examples of KPIs include average fuel consumption, tire pressure levels, brake pad wear, engine temperature, and many others. Monitoring these KPIs can offer insights into how well the vehicle is functioning and what may require attention before it becomes a problem.

Data Analytics

By examining patterns and trends in the collected data, you can predict when a particular vehicle component is likely to fail. For example, if the analysis shows that brake pads usually require replacement after 50,000 miles, you can schedule proactive maintenance when a vehicle approaches this mileage, thus avoiding potential brake failure and enhancing road safety.

Advanced analytics tools can provide real-time alerts for metrics that deviate from the norm. If an engine temperature rises beyond a set limit, for instance, the system can alert the fleet manager in real-time, enabling immediate action to prevent overheating and potential engine damage.

As you collect more data, the system’s predictions become increasingly accurate. This enables you to continually refine your proactive maintenance plans, making them more efficient and effective over time.

Pick a Maintenance Schedule that Works

A proactive maintenance schedule relies on comprehensive inspections and attention to detail. 

That means there can’t be undue time pressure on your maintenance team; the less time they have to perform their inspections, the more likely they are to skip the “low priority” details that can eventually snowball into critical repairs.  

A tip many overlook is to spread out jobs on a rolling basis. Calling every vehicle in for an inspection at the start of each quarter is easy on the schedule but difficult on the people performing the maintenance. 


Each vehicle should operate on its own schedule, assigned on a rolling basis, to balance out the burden of maintenance over time.

Building a maintenance schedule is a job that’s never done. It changes based on the wear and tear on vehicles, the size of the fleet, and more. Each time a new vehicle is added to the fleet, it must be incorporated into the maintenance schedule.

If all of this sounds like an exceptional burden, remember that you don’t need to engineer it from the ground up any more than you need to manufacture your own trucks. Fleet maintenance software, telematics, and modern technologies all help create an integrated maintenance plan with specific information pulled from truck computers, not just estimates based on mileage and odometer readings.

Know When to Write Off a Vehicle

The older a fleet vehicle is – and the more miles put on it – the more likely it will be to suffer some kind of catastrophic failure, even with dedicated, proactive maintenance. 

Knowing when to write off a fleet vehicle can be an important part of managing a maintenance plan. An older vehicle with significant building issues


Deciding when to replace a vehicle is an individual decision based on factors like:

  • The cost of buying a new replacement.
  • The ongoing costs of insurance for an older vehicle versus a new one.
  • The ongoing cost of maintenance and repairs on the older vehicle, including driver downtime.
  • The increasing risk of catastrophic failure or breakdown in the field.
  • Any recouped costs from selling used-but-operational fleet vehicles.

Remember that it’s not just the finances; it’s the time burden on your maintenance staff, on your drivers, on the clients waiting on your deliveries, and more. Sometimes, while the financial costs still balance, the opportunity cost is significant enough that you can’t truly afford not to replace the vehicle in question.

Build a Maintenance Team

The other element of the proactive maintenance puzzle is your maintenance staff.

Write Off vehicle

You need enough staff to handle everything comfortably, with leeway in case of injury or illness leading to unexpected short staffing. 

“Regular maintenance only works when it’s done thoroughly. That means you need a team in place that has the time and ability to follow your preventive maintenance schedule to the letter. Can you realistically handle this ongoing task with the resources you currently have? Or do you need to consider additional assistance?” – Fleet Maintenance

If that means you need to hire additional mechanics, shop management, or low-level staff, so be it. 

If it means you need to invest in software to better manage your fleet schedules, that’s also a good idea. 

Whatever the case may be, a solid maintenance team is the backbone of an operational fleet.

Find Local Maintenance Support

Anywhere you’re located, you’ll need fleet support.

Doing everything in-house works for small-scale operations with centralized locations, but the larger your area of operations, the larger your distribution, and the larger your fleet, the more you can benefit from partnering with an organization to provide some of your preventative maintenance services.

Find Local Center

This can range anywhere from having a dedicated partner for fleet oil changes to working with a third party for virtually all of your maintenance tasks. In both cases, we’re here to help. Our nationwide network of maintenance professionals and brands ensures that, no matter where you are, there’s a service center near you.

Find a Shop

Whatever your needs, we have services for you. Simply contact us to work out what your fleet needs, what you need outsourced, and how we can provide top-quality services for you to keep you operational.