10 Things I Learned From Doing My Own Maintenance

Posted on August 13, 2009 by Philip Jagiela

Page 1 of 2

Maintenance ranks among the top 10 expenses an operator faces behind fuel and insurance. How maintenance is approached varies among operators.

The most critical piece of the equation is to get the maintenance done as quickly as possible to get the vehicle back on the road without disrupting your service. Our company performs all routine maintenance in-house. It helps that I enjoy working on cars as a hobby. I personally perform many of the maintenance items in my business, but there is no reason why these jobs can’t be done by others in your organization. We have a fleet comprised of Lincoln Town Cars and Ford vehicles. As such, all of the maintenance items can be consolidated.

These tips are the ones we employ in our business. I realize there are many different opinions on when preventive maintenance needs to occur. This is what we do based on my learning over the past 21 years in the industry.

Our vehicles can easily exceed 500,000 miles on the original drive train. You may not want to run your vehicles that long, but if you take care of a vehicle, it can work for you far longer than you may have expected. By doing the basics consistently and using the right parts, you can extend the life of a vehicle and cut down on your overall repairs. Also, if you maintain the vehicle properly you can hold the value of the vehicle at trade-in time.

  1. Schedule
    By performing maintenance in house, you set the schedule. You are not at the mercy of anyone else and you build your time around your work. We don’t lose vehicles to maintenance.
  2. Scheduled Preventive Maintenance
    We do routine maintenance on a schedule. That includes:
    • Oil and filter at 4,000 miles
    • Air and fuel filters every 15,000 miles
    • Transmission service is performed every 25,000 miles (flush the entire system and replace the fluid). I have found that once I have done my first transmission service at 25,000 miles, I never change the filter again. By using the T Tech machine, a total fluid exchange is performed. After the first change, the filter never accumulates a significant amount of clutch fiber to require a new filter.
    • Serpentine belts are done every 50,000 miles (I only need a 3/8 ratchet wrench and a lot of patience to change a serpentine belt)
    • Wiper blades are done every spring and fall
    • Spark plugs are done at 80,000 miles
    • Tires are changed at 60,000 miles (they are rotated every other oil change or at 8,000 miles).
    • Brake pads last 50-60,000 miles (Rotors are replaced every other brake change. I do this to prevent pulsations of the brake pedal).
    • Shock absorbers are replaced at 100,000 miles to prevent tire wear and to maintain the smooth ride your clients expect.
    • Brake fluid is exchanged every 100,000 miles
    • Coolant flush is performed every 60,000 miles (This is the one service item I do not do in house as it requires a separate machine which costs about $3,200).
    • Lubricate window track with Silicon Lube in the spring and fall. This will minimize the replacement of window regulators as the windows will glide instead of bind.
  3. As Needed Maintenance
    Performed on the following items:
    • Bulbs
    • Air suspension bags. The bags will display check marks or stretch marks that will show they are fatiguing. Another sign of this will be that your air suspension compressor will be running more frequently
    • Batteries
    • Alternators
    • Coil Packs
    • Tires — we keep a spare mounted tire ready so that it’s quickly available. 
    • Washer fluid — we buy this in bulk.
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