Fleet Vehicle Maintenance Checklist: Key Elements and Considerations [2023]

Efficient fleet management is the backbone of many businesses. Maintaining the health of fleet vehicles via a fleet vehicle maintenance checklist and preventive maintenance practices is essential to that efficiency.

When vehicles are in optimal condition, they serve their purpose reliably and ensure the safety of their operators and the fleet’s longevity. A well-planned, thorough, and diligently executed fleet maintenance checklist is key to achieving this.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the key elements and considerations when creating your checklist, ensuring your fleet stays on the road and contributes positively to your bottom line.

What is a fleet maintenance checklist?

In a nutshell, a fleet maintenance checklist is a tool that enables fleet managers or maintenance supervisors to ensure that their fleet vehicles are in good operating condition.

It serves as a guideline to regularly monitor and maintain the health of vehicles, guaranteeing that they are safe, operational, and efficient. A robust checklist promotes preventative maintenance, reducing the likelihood of serious mechanical issues and helping prolong the vehicles’ life.

Although fleet vehicle maintenance operations share common objectives, every checklist can be customized according to the specific needs of a company’s fleet.

The frequency of checks may also vary based on factors such as the age of the vehicle, the type of vehicle, how often it’s used, and what it’s used for. Some items might need to be checked daily, others weekly or monthly, and some might only need to be checked annually or semi-annually.

Why are fleet vehicle maintenance checklists important?

Fixing unplanned vehicle issues is an unpredictable expense that can significantly impact the overall cost of managing your fleet. 

Regrettably, research reveals that the average roadside repair expenditures have consistently risen in recent years, with a record level of average mechanical repair costs for commercial vehicles in 2022. 

In addition, the cost of vehicle repairs has risen by 40% from 2018 to 2022.

Luckily, a large portion of these repairs could be prevented with regular preventive maintenance (PM).

As the realm of automotive technology continues to advance, PM processes become more complex. Modern vehicles demand additional PM stages to assess safety features that were non-existent just a decade ago, such as lane departure warnings and corrective steering mechanisms. 

Without a structured fleet vehicle maintenance checklist to keep a record of each maintenance activity, it’s easy to understand how certain tasks could be overlooked.

In a nutshell, fleet vehicle maintenance checklists are vital for the following reasons:

  • Safety
  • Breakdown prevention
  • Repair costs reduction
  • Increased vehicle lifespan
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Operational efficiency
  • Higher resale value
  • Reliability & data tracking

Overall, a fleet maintenance checklist supports proactive maintenance, reduces risks, and optimizes fleet management operations.

What to consider when preparing your fleet vehicle maintenance checklist

When it comes to creating your vehicle maintenance checklist, there are a few essential factors to consider.

Keep in mind that there are high-quality, ready-to-use fleet maintenance checklists available to download online. At the same time, a personal touch is often a must if you want the checklist to satisfy all of your fleet’s unique needs.

Personalization is key

Tailoring your maintenance checklists is a guaranteed way to minimize your total cost of ownership (TCO), especially when you’re using data to formulate PM intervals

Reports derived from vehicle inspection and service records (like DVIRs) can highlight vehicles needing extra care. These specific concerns can then be incorporated into the relevant maintenance checklist.

Moreover, if you have assets with specialized equipment, you can include these assets in a checklist designed for that particular set of vehicles. This guarantees every facet of your fleet receives the necessary maintenance, and nothing is missed.


To serve its purpose, the fleet vehicle maintenance checklist must be shared with team members and used correctly.

The mode of presenting maintenance checklists for your fleet personnel to complete can greatly influence fleet compliance and precise data reporting. Traditional paper forms can lead to increased dishonesty, unreadable handwriting, incomplete data, and documentation errors.

By taking advantage of solutions like fleet maintenance software, you can develop and customize digital forms that employees can fill out using an intuitive and easy-to-use app.

Data recording & processing

The data collection approach you choose for your fleet vehicle maintenance checklist has a significant role in the way the data will be analyzed. Manual data input is often a burden, and if you’re collecting checklist forms at the end of the day or shift, the data can’t be utilized and responded to promptly.

One way to avoid these challenges is to rely on fleet maintenance solutions that can support your checklist data gathering.

What to include in your fleet vehicle maintenance checklist

As we noted above, personalization is a must when it comes to fleet maintenance checklists. For this reason, it’s improbable that two companies will end up using the exact same checklist.

However, there are a few core elements that you can’t afford to neglect when it comes to creating your fleet vehicle maintenance checklist.

Fluid levels

Checking the fluid levels of your fleet’s vehicles is a basic yet vital aspect of fleet maintenance. This includes inspecting engine oil, coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid, transmission fluid, and windshield washer fluid.

Ensuring that these fluids are at the recommended levels helps to prevent mechanical issues and ensures the vehicle runs smoothly.

Engine maintenance

The engine, transmission, and exhaust are the powerhouses of your vehicles. Regularly inspecting the engine for leaks, noises, or irregularities is crucial. Checking the transmission fluid and examining the transmission for leaks or other issues is also essential.

Lastly, examining the exhaust system for leaks, damage, or excessive noise can help prevent harmful emissions and possible regulatory violations.

Wheels and tires

The condition of the wheels and tires directly influences the safety and fuel efficiency of the vehicle, regardless of its model or size.

For example, the tires should be inspected for correct inflation, tread depth, and signs of wear or damage. Additionally, wheel alignment and balancing should be checked to prevent uneven wear and ensure optimal vehicle handling.

Exterior and interior inspection

Vehicle exteriors and interiors are commonly neglected, as they are often perceived as non-priority elements. However, this is a popular misconception that can result in costly repairs and business disruption.

Regularly inspect the vehicle’s body and chassis for any signs of rust, damage, or wear. This includes the vehicle’s exterior paintwork, door handles, mirrors, and other parts. It’s important to fix any issues promptly to prevent further damage and ensure the vehicle remains presentable.

In addition, ensure that the headlights, taillights, windshield wipers, seat belts, and all controls are in excellent condition and properly functioning. Check for body damage and ensure all doors and windows work properly.

Braking system

The brakes are one of the most critical safety features of any vehicle. Regular inspections should include checking brake fluid levels, inspecting brake pads for wear, and ensuring that all components of the brake system, such as the discs, drums, and lines, are in good condition.

Don’t forget that regular brake checks can prevent accidents and costly repairs. Having this in mind, they should be among the highest priority points on your fleet vehicle maintenance checklist.

Couplings, plumbing, and belts

Couplings, plumbing, and belts all play a crucial role in the overall functioning and lifespan of fleet vehicles. 

They each contribute to different essential vehicle systems, and their failure could lead to significant issues, affecting the vehicle’s performance and safety.


Couplings are mechanical elements that connect two parts of a vehicle system, enabling power transmission from one component to another. For example, the drive shaft coupling is responsible for transmitting torque from the vehicle’s engine to its wheels.

If couplings are not regularly inspected and maintained, they could fail and lead to power transmission issues, affecting the vehicle’s ability to function.


Plumbing, on the other hand, refers to the system of hoses that carry fluids (such as coolant, oil, brake fluid, etc.) throughout the vehicle. These hoses are vital for the vehicle’s cooling, lubrication, and braking systems.

A leak or blockage in these hoses could lead to overheating, insufficient lubrication, or brake failure, all of which can have serious implications for the safety and performance of the vehicle.


Belts, like the timing belt or serpentine belt, are integral components of a vehicle’s engine. They synchronize the engine’s functions and drive various engine accessories like the alternator, water pump, power steering pump, and air conditioning compressor.

A worn-out or broken belt can cause engine malfunction, leading to costly repairs or even engine replacement.

Regular inspections of these components help identify potential issues before they become severe, leading to prolonged vehicle life, increased safety, reduced downtime, and overall cost savings.

Including them in a fleet vehicle maintenance checklist is crucial for maintaining the fleet’s overall health and efficiency.

Electrical systems

The electrical system is another critical component of a vehicle and, therefore, essential to include in a fleet maintenance checklist. It plays a multifaceted role, ensuring the smooth operation of several vehicle systems, which contributes to vehicle safety, performance, and driver comfort.

This part of your fleet vehicle maintenance checklist must focus on things like the battery, lights, safety sensors, and all electronic controls. This includes ensuring that all interior and exterior lights are functioning, the battery is holding a charge, and all controls are operating as they should be.

HVAC System

The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system of a vehicle is mostly responsible for the comfort of the driver and passengers.

Its regular maintenance is essential for a safe and comfortable ride but also a regulatory requirement.

Here are the key elements to inspect:

  • Air Conditioning – Check the refrigerant levels and inspect for leaks. A well-functioning AC system ensures the comfort of the vehicle’s occupants during warm weather.
  • Heater – Ensure the heating system is working correctly to provide comfort during colder months. This often involves checking coolant levels and the condition of the heater core.
  • Ventilation – Make sure the vents are clear and the fan is functioning properly to ensure good air circulation in the vehicle.
  • Defrosting and defogging systems – These are crucial for maintaining visibility in cold or humid conditions. Check that they are functioning correctly.


Keeping the HVAC system in good condition ensures a comfortable environment in the vehicle, which can help keep drivers alert and reduce fatigue, contributing to safer driving.

Plus, a well-functioning defrosting system, for example, is crucial for maintaining good visibility under certain weather conditions.

Fuel system

A vehicle’s fuel system plays a vital role in its operation as it stores and supplies fuel to the engine. Regular checks ensure that the system functions optimally, contributing to the vehicle’s performance and fuel efficiency.

When it comes to a fleet vehicle maintenance checklist, some of the essentials to examine include:

  • Fuel filters – These should be regularly replaced to prevent clogs, which can restrict fuel flow and reduce engine performance.
  • Fuel lines and connections – Regular inspection can help spot leaks or damage that could lead to fuel loss or fire hazards.
  • Fuel tank – Check for any leaks, corrosion or damage. Also, ensure the fuel cap is in good condition to prevent contamination or evaporation of fuel.
  • Fuel pump and injectors – These should be checked for proper operation to ensure the right amount of fuel is delivered to the engine for optimal performance and efficiency.

A well-maintained fuel system ensures optimum engine performance, improves fuel efficiency, and can help prevent breakdowns or costly repairs.

Things to remember

We’ve now covered the must-have components in a fleet vehicle maintenance checklist. 

However, regardless of whether you’re planning to create your own or would rather use a pre-made checklist, there are a few core factors to keep in mind.

Maintenance task routines

When talking about preventive maintenance and fleet vehicle maintenance checklists, the popular assumption is that downtime and expenses occur as a result of irregular maintenance.

However, the reality is that tasks that are performed more often than necessary also result in overspending, challenges, and potential vehicle damage.

To prevent excessive inspections or emergency breakdowns as a result of negligence, it’s crucial to find the right balance and schedule your maintenance tasks appropriately to save costs and keep your fleet operating efficiently.

Using your fleet vehicle maintenance checklist in combination with fleet maintenance software with PM intervals is a guaranteed way to achieve this.

Vehicle classification

Believe it or not, the type of vehicles you have in your fleet can influence your maintenance checklist.

Different models and makes of commercial vehicles display different patterns of wear and tear. This means their components require unique maintenance and replacement schedules.

For instance, the maintenance needs of a commercial truck or semi-trailer will vastly differ from a fleet of sedans, given the unique operational demands and components of each.

Business objectives

Organizations typically employ a fleet maintenance checklist to prevent unexpected expensive repairs, improve fuel efficiency, and maintain fleet vehicles in optimal condition.

While a preventive fleet vehicle maintenance checklist typically aims to accomplish these objectives, it’s vital to establish your specific goals for a more focused preventive maintenance plan.

In the absence of a clear objective, you may end up wasting resources on maintenance activities that do not yield significant benefits.

Regulatory compliance

In most cases, different jurisdictions have federal and state regulations ensuring fleet maintenance is carried out to prevent unnecessary accidents.

For example, in the US, institutions like the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) provide guidelines for diverse fleet safety programs. 

They offer information on when fleet drivers and managers must inspect their commercial vehicles, how fleet maintenance programs should be set up, and more.

Inspection details

Last but not least, your checklist should specify where the regular fleet vehicle maintenance is performed and by whom.

There are some companies that prefer to have their drivers handle maintenance needs on the go, while others might choose to conduct regular inspections after each trip.

Using your fleet vehicle maintenance checklist on the road to preventive maintenance

If you’re ready to take your fleet maintenance to the next level, integrate your fleet vehicle maintenance checklist with a powerful fleet maintenance program.

At Fleetpal, we’re here to help with our software packed with reliable features and capabilities.

Ready to find out more? Get in touch with our team, or schedule your free online demo!


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Mike Valnev