Fleet Vehicle Maintenance: A Comprehensive Guide in 2022

It is vital that a fleet management company equips its managers with a streamlined plan so that all processes are in place. Some companies equip managers with telematics systems, while others use Excel sheets. The second one, however, can prove to be a challenge to fleet management systems. This is because drivers have the tendency to fail to report potential issues, and may wait before the vehicle is completely damaged before making the complaint.

What happens in a situation like this? Let’s say Fleet Management Company ‘A’ has a damaged car in its fleet of 20 vehicles. This means that 19 vehicles have to be rotated to meet the need of the same number of customers. This can be challenging for a company, and problematic for the employer and the employee. This also impacts productivity and timelines and therefore impacts costs.

Rather than depending on Excel sheets, fleet management companies need to build a fleet management plan that ensures preventive maintenance, which in turn reduces fleet costs and mitigates liability risks. There are many other ways by which you can improve the efficiency of your fleet business.

In this article, we will discuss the steps you need to take to maintain a seamless, hassle-free fleet management plan.

But before you get into the detailing, let us first understand why fleet maintenance systems are vital for smooth processes. 

Let’s go back to Company A and now let us assume that it had a robust fleet management system. If this system is in place, then the vehicles can be well-maintained at regular intervals. This ensures that there is no vehicle damage, which in turn ensures smooth productivity for your organization

Failure to properly maintain your fleet impacts more than cost; it can also affect your team’s downtime and overall safety. 

However, before you get into building your seamless fleet management system, you need to remember that there are a bunch of responsibilities you are required to keep in mind. Our team at Matrack ensures that these safety guidelines are kept in mind to ensure that our vehicles, drivers, and employees are safe at all times.

These responsibilities are classified under three sections

  1. Safety
  2. Efficiency 
  3. Compliance

 A company’s fleet manager needs to keep all these factors in mind while managing the fleet. The good news is that all three factors are interconnected, and compromising on one means compromising on the entire operation.

Keeping this in mind, here are some guidelines that a fleet management service needs to keep in mind while establishing your fleet management system.

Build a maintenance checklist

This step appears to be a little premature, but if you want a robust fleet management system, then you need to understand fleet maintenance. Our team at Matrack also has a maintenance checklist to ensure that our vehicles are well looked after. 

Why a maintenance checklist? Well, you need to keep in mind that while each vehicle – even if it’s the same model – is unique, there are some common maintenance features that all vehicles have in common. These include: 

  1. Checking frame and suspension
  2. Checking the condition of the body
  3. Checking the suspension
  4. Checking the mirror to see if there is damage 
  5. Check if all lights are working, as a lot of vehicles are driven at night
  6. Check the integrity of the windshield 
  7. Check if the doors and windows work
  8. Check for oil to see if it needs to be changed
  9. Check for gear oil, brake oil, coolants, anti-freeze, etc (the last is important when you’re driving in winter)
  10. Check for windshield wipers
  11. Check for brake smoothness
  12. Check for oil filter 
  13. Check tire pressure
  14. Check the fuel system 
  15. Check the vehicle for rust
  16. Check for transmission
  17. Check for all belts in the engine, as well as front and back seatbelts 
  18. Check if seats are in place
  19. Check if the car’s internal heating and air-conditioner is in working condition
  20. Check if the horn is working
  21. Check for the exhaust system

Once all these features are checked, then you can build your fleet management checklist. Do note that this is the ideal way to ensure that your planning goes well.

Assess baselines 

Once you finish your checklist, you need to ensure your vehicle data is in a database that is integrated into fleet management software that ensures efficiency [Some of the best fleet management software are listed here]. Before you get your fleet management system in place, you need to check the status of all your vehicles i.e. take them to the garage to get a full diagnosis and conduct a test drive.

In essence, take all the parameters you have built in your fleet checklist and implement them in all the vehicles in your fleet. If they meet all parameters, then these vehicles are fleet management ready. If they fail even one, get that problem rectified at the earliest before you get your vehicles ready.

Once this is done, it is vital that you make all your documentation digital. Once this is done, you can upload them to the fleet management software. These uploaded documents will have all the details of the vehicle, including the servicing done, the work needed (if any), and whether the vehicle needs servicing or replacing.

Read more: Selecting the right fleet vehicle for your fleet

Establish a maintenance schedule

As the name suggests, this is the ‘actual planning’ period or the time where you establish your parameters for your vehicles and your drivers. Building this policy and implementing it helps your team adjust to the processes that are in place.

Matrack keeps the following factors in mind while maintaining its fleet management policy:

  • Safety
  • Rough incidents
  • High speed
  • Incident reporting
  • Efficiency 
  • Idling time
  • Preventive maintenance 
  • Compliance
  • ELD rule violations 

These are Matrack-specific guidelines. However, in addition to these, we also follow the following

  • Pre-trip check: Every vehicle needs to be checked before a trip. While not as comprehensive as a full inspection, the vehicle driver has to check the basics such as horn, lights, oil, tire, and other minor checks
  • Post-trip check: It’s similar to a pre-trip check. Your fleet management system should have this digital document that your driver can access for pre-and post-trip. If there is an issue, it can get immediately highlighted
  • Maintenance Checklist: You are required to have a monthly-, quarterly, half-yearly, and annually. Each of these checklists needs to be thorough and need to be done regularly if your vehicles are used regularly.
  • Maintenance schedule: Setting a schedule helps to ensure you always catch issues before they become bigger problems. Without fleet management software, you have to keep track of this yourself.  

Matrack’s fleet-tracking software and system give companies the visibility they need to track and manage their assets, fleets, and trailers. Matrack enables companies to streamline their operations while reducing costs and increasing profits. If you are interested in Matrack’s services, then you can have a free consultation with an in-house expert.

Some of the features for Matrack include the following

  • Instant email\text alert
  • A geofence alert in real-time
  • You have the ability to manage the geofence radius with a click
  • You can allocate each vehicle with different geofences

To know more about geofencing and its benefits, click here.

The new dashboard has been made easier to use, as well as adaptable to iOS and Android, and has several unique features that make it stand out as a fleet management system

Most importantly, you get a safety report that covers the number of miles driven, miles driven (in case you cross 80 miles per hour), hard break activity, and time spent driving late at night.

IFTA 101- Your Simplified Guide to IFTA

Do you know if you fail to submit your IFTA auditing report on time, you may have to face fines up to $500? 

As a fleet manager, you must know the importance of the different rules and regulations existing in the state. Whether it is IFTA, DoT, HoS, or others, you need to know and remain in compliance to stay in business.

Remembering and understanding all the rules and regulations of any law or agreement can be difficult. And as IFTA differs in each state, calculating tax, filing returns, and many other things need to be taken care of in a timely fashion to avoid fines. Moreover, it is very easy for newbie and seasoned drivers and fleet managers to get entangled in wordy laws. But no more! In this article, we will try to simplify IFTA and associated queries. Therefore stay with us till the end.  

What is IFTA (International Fuel Tax Agreement)?

IFTA stands for International Fuel Tax Agreement. As the name suggests, IFTA is an agreement between the conterminous states of the United States and the provinces of Canada. This agreement aims to simplify the reporting of fuel usage by motor carriers traveling in more than one state.

Let us understand the International Fuel Tax Agreement in detail with the help of an example. 

Suppose there is a motor carrier that works in more than one state. Since it frequently travels from one state to another, fuel purchases are made all over the states they travel. However, each state has its tax slab for fuel purchase. And this is where the problem of sharing the tax amount arises.

To give each state its fair share of fuel taxes, the government decided to make IFTA. After every three months, each motor carrier has to submit the documentation for the record of fuel purchased.

The government uses this report to disburse taxes fairly among all states. Moreover, it simplifies and makes one single fuel tax for truck operators operating in different territories.

Why do we need IFTA?

Now that we know what IFTA is? Let us see why IFTA was needed. To understand this, we have to go back to the 90s. Before IFTA, as the trucking industry expanded, each state started noticing that the trucks operating there were causing wear and tear to the highway. And therefore, they came up with a  fuel tax system to collect taxes from such motor carriers.

Each truck operating there had to seek permission from a designated port of entry for fuel tax collection. Then the state arranged a special license plate named Bingo for them.

It was a cumbersome and time-consuming process. Moreover, soon truck drivers noticed that they were paying higher fuel rates in one state than in other states. It created a great disturbance among truck drivers and fleet operators. 

There was a demand for replacing this old and confusing system. Therefore, the states decided to come together and sign a pact for one and uniform tax system throughout 48 US states and 10 Canadian provinces. Hence, in 1966, the IFTA came into existence and replaced the old tax system of 1945. 

What are the main objectives of IFTA?

The main motto of the IFTA was to simplify the fuel tax collection process. After IFTA implementation, each motor carrier has to obtain a license from the department and submit a report quarterly to their home jurisdiction.

The main objective of the IFTA was as follows:

  • To simplify the tax collection process by each state
  • Establish uniform reporting requirements
  • To save time and money for trucking business
  • To disburse tax among different states fairly. 

Jurisdictions Falling Under IFTA Scope

As stated above, around 48 states of the United States and ten provinces of Canada follow IFTA rules. Here is the name of them: 

USA


Alabama

Georgia


Maine

Arizona

Idaho

Maryland

Arkansas

Illinois

Massachusetts

California

Indiana

Michigan

Colorado

Iowa

Minnesota

Connecticut

Kansas

Montana

Delaware

Kentucky

Nebraska

Florida

Louisiana

Nevada

New Hampshire

Oregon

Vermont

New Jersey

Pennsylvania

Virginia

New Mexico

Rhode Island

Washington

New York

South Carolina

West Virginia

North Carolina

South Dakota

Wisconsin

North Dakota

Tennessee

Wyoming

Ohio

Texas

Mississippi

Oklaho

Utah

Missouri

Canada

AlbertaNova Scotia
British ColumbiaOntario
ManitobaPrince Edward Island
New BrunswickQuebec
NewfoundlandSaskatchewan

How Does IFTA Tax Work?

Do you find IFTA complicated? Well, let us simplify it even more with the help of an example. 

Suppose a truck driver travels through different states for business. They will go to their state IFTA department and apply for the license. With the permit, they will get two fuel stickers to put on each side of the truck.  

As they go to another authority, they keep track of fuel consumed and distance covered. After returning to the home state, they will have to file the IFTA report in three months.

Their state IFTA (International Fuel Tax Agreement) department will review the report and distribute the taxes accordingly to each state. Each state will receive its share per the miles driven in that.  

If the tax collected is more than the required, similar to income tax, the fleet operators will receive the excess amount. 

Note: What if the truck didn’t travel across the states? If you have applied IFTA stickers on your vehicle, you will have to submit the quarterly reports. Otherwise, you should notify the department. 

Qualifications For IFTA: Whether You Fall Under IFTA Compliance

Before you get into all this, you should know if you are qualified for the IFTA registration. You have to submit the IFTA report if your commercial vehicle: 

  • Has three or more axles 
  • Or, have two axles and a gross weight exceeding 26,000 pounds
  • Or, uses in combination that has GVM of more than 26,000 pounds 

You only need to check these qualifications if your vehicle travels in more than one jurisdiction. 

International Fuel Tax Agreement Exemptions

There are some exemptions to the IFTA rule. You need to check them too to see if you fall in this category or not. Here are some exemptions: 

  • Recreational vehicles
  • Farm plated vehicles
  • School buses
  • Tow truck
  • Government-owned vehicles
  • Biodiesel vehicle 

Non-IFTA Jurisdiction

If you reside in the following state, you won’t have to worry about IFTA. 

United States

  • Alaska
  • Hawaii
  • District of Columbia

Canada

  • Yukon Territory
  • Northwest Territory
  • Nunavut

How To Apply For IFTA? 

If you are new to the trucking business and want to know the process for applying for IFTA, here are some simple steps: 

  • First of all, you need to fill out the basic application form. You can take this application form from your state IFTA department.
  • Basic details are registered business name, mail address, federal business number, and USDOT number. You can submit the form via mail or fax. 
  • After successful submission, the IFTA authority will issue official IFTA decals and your license. 

How Often Do You Need to Submit The IFTA Report?

Motor carriers have to submit IFTA reports quarterly. Here are the due dates:

IFTA Reporting PeriodsDue Dates
1st Quarter- January to March30 April
2nd Quarter- April to June31 July
3rd Quarter- July to September31 October
4th Quarter- October to December31 January

How To Calculate IFTA Fuel Tax Reports?

Before you submit your IFTA tax report, you need to do a few calculations. But don’t worry, we have simplified the whole process into some simple steps: 

Calculating Miles Driven 

First of all, you have to keep an accurate record of the amount of fuel consumed throughout the journey. Remember, you need to be accurate. For this, you can take the help of modern fleet management solutions. 

Fuel Purchased

After determining the amount of fuel consumption, you need to collect the receipts and calculate the total gallons of fuel purchased. 

You must rely on the original receipts and invoices. 

Fuel Mileage

Before submitting an IFTA report, motor carriers must calculate the number of miles driven and fuel purchased. After this, you should start by calculating the overall fuel mileage. 

You can calculate fuel mileage using this formula:

{Fuel Mileage= Total miles driven÷ Total gallons}

Next, you divide the fuel mileage by fuel consumed in different states. 

For instance, 

Total fuel consumed in Texas= Total miles driven in Texas ÷ Overall fuel mileage

Submission

Lastly, after this, you should put all the information together. And then, you can file the report to the respective department. 

Important Things To Remember

Here is some important information you need to collect:

  • Miles drove in each state
  • The odometer reading at each state line
  • Total gallons of fuel purchased in a different jurisdiction
  • Original fuel receipts and invoices
  • Individual trip reports 

Consequences of Failing to Submit IFTA Reports

If you fail to submit your IFTA audit on time, you will be subject to a heavy fine. You will have to face a penalty of around $50.00 or 10% of the tax. 

Streamline IFTA Reporting With Modern Technology

Traditionally, fleet managers and drivers used to fill the IFTA taxes manually. Right from tracking distance covered by the vehicle to fuel purchased. It is a tiring and time-consuming process. Moreover, humans tend to make errors. The mistake may seem small but can negatively affect your tax report. 

You can save time and avoid any possible error by employing modern-day fleet management solutions and cloud-based reporting tools. With some simple inputs, you can generate IFTA reports. 

How Can Matrack Simplify Your IFTA Fuel Tax Reports?

Matrack is known for its affordable and customized telematics solutions. It offers user-centric and comprehensive fleet management solutions. You can rely on this solution as it is easy to use and accurate. 

By paying a nominal amount of $7, you can access different aspects of fleet management such as GPS tracker, electronic logging device, weigh station bypass, trailer and asset tracking, and more.  

Moreover, no contract, free activation & cancellation, and excellent customer service are the best part of this user-centric system. 

For more information and details, visit the website now and talk to our experts. 

Common FAQs Related To IFTA

Do you still have some questions? If yes, then here are answers to some common FAQs. 

Q1. What is IFTA Jurisdiction?

Jurisdictions falling under IFTA are known as IFTA jurisdiction. As stated above, around 48 states of the US and ten provinces of Canada fall under IFTA jurisdiction.

Q2. I live in Hawaii. Do I need to submit an IFTA report?

No, if you are a resident of Hawaii, Alaska, or the District of Columbia, you won’t need to submit IFTA reports.

Q3. Do I need to submit IFTA reports if I travel to a different state once in a while?

Even if you travel to other states once in a while, you have to register yourself with the IFTA department.

Q4. What is the penalty for late submission? 

You will have to face heavy fines of around $50 or 10% of the total due.

Q5. What documents are required while filing quarterly tax reports?

Every fleet operator should submit fuel receipts, trip report records, IFTA licenses, and decal numbers.

Q6. How often do you have to renew the license?

Ans. You have to renew your IFTA license yearly. You can do this by visiting the nearest state IFTA department.

Q7. What if I suddenly need to travel to a different state? 

Ans. You can register yourself for a temporary IFTA license. 

Q8. What will happen if someone continuously submits an IFTA report late? 

Ans. If you continuously fail to submit an IFTA report, the authority can cancel your IFTA permit.

In A Nutshell

To stay in compliance with different rules, fleet owners tend to rely on fleet managers. Hence, it becomes your responsibility to know regulations and ensure compliance. Moreover, with better knowledge and deep understanding, you can make better and informed decisions. 

For more such articles and to know more about Matrack solutions, visit the website now. Moreover, do share your thoughts in the comment section below.