Get face-to-face with maintenance practices

Feb. 3, 2017
The biggest challenge in managing the overload of information.

Of the many challenges facing fleet maintenance personnel, perhaps none is bigger than the ability to minimize unscheduled downtime and maximize uptime. Every fleet knows that a truck out of commission for any period of time is lost revenue. 

Fleets are constantly looking at ways to reduce costs, but a fine line exists when trying to reduce maintenance costs. Extreme reduction of maintenance costs can lead to higher rates of unscheduled downtime if the fleet is not vigilant about monitoring its breakdown cost attributed to poor maintenance practices.

In order to maximize uptime, fleets maintenance managers must understand the importance of keeping every component on the truck maintained to manufacturers’ guidelines. Unfortunately, too often, most failures occur due to improper maintenance schedules.

Most manufacturers provide designated mileage and time requirements for maintenance. Eaton, for example, recommends lubrication changes in its typical linehaul transmission be completed every 500,000 miles. Eaton’s typical clutch maintenance interval is 50,000 miles.


With today’s newer trucks becoming more sophisticated in terms of advanced electrical systems, onboard diagnostics and telematics, fleet maintenance software suites allow fleets to track and schedule maintenance much more effectively than in the past.  However, ignoring necessary maintenance intervals can cause significant problems, resulting in increased downtime. 

Take electrical system maintenance as an example. Because automated transmissions are reliant on the OEM chassis wiring, it is almost a daily occurrence for a call center operator to field a situation in which out-of-range voltage conditions are seen. 

It is important that the chassis electrical system is maintained per the OEM guidelines. Improper wiring connections can lead to corrosion and/or intermittent connectivity, which tend to be the top issues that are reported.


Air system maintenance is also very important to the operation of heavy duty transmissions. In order to keep moisture and other contaminants out of the air system, a large majority of today’s heavy duty commercial vehicles are equipped with air dryer systems. 

By properly maintaining the air dryer, fleets can control moisture and contaminants entering the vehicle’s air system and proactively alleviate problems down the road.


Perhaps no area poses bigger challenges than the advent of telematics and the information – or overload of information – that this technology can provide a fleet maintenance manager. 

As more information becomes available, the question is: How does a fleet maintenance manager avoid hundreds of texts or email updates, as opposed to information they can use and act on to adjust maintenance cycles and give feedback to drivers in response to a truck-down situation?

Gary Pfister is the advanced technical support manager, NAFTA, for the Eaton Vehicle Group. Eaton ( is a global technology leader in power management solutions that make electrical, hydraulic and mechanical power operate more efficiently, reliably, safely and sustainably. Its Vehicle Group provides automotive and commercial vehicle manufacturers worldwide with products and systems that are designed to improve a vehicle’s overall efficiency, performance and power – such as emission control components, engine valves, valvetrain systems and superchargers, as well as offering driveline expertise through its transmission, clutch and torque management products and systems.

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