August 2, 2017

How ELDs Can Help You with Vehicle Maintenance Issues

How ELDs Can Help You with Vehicle Maintenance Issues

A good number of road crashes that are happening in the United States are due to the lack of vehicle maintenance. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that 10% of all truck-related accidents are due to component failures.

It sends us a clear message that neglecting vehicle maintenance can prove to be costly for trucking companies. The negligence doesn’t only lead to more road crashes, but it can even speed up their vehicles’ wear and tear. Without proper maintenance, oil sludge build-up, lower fuel economy, and longer braking distance are among some of the dangers that truck drivers can encounter.

Though a vast majority of carriers have their own maintenance crew, the sheer size of their fleet can result to occasional lapses.

With so many vehicles to take into account, organizational members can forget to monitor and service some of their trucks periodically.

Because of these possible instances that put fleets at risk, carriers need to have systems or tools in place that will help them track their units’ maintenance status.

That’s where ELDs come in.

In this guide, we’re going to talk about how ELDs can help your fleet with its vehicle maintenance issues.

We will cover how ELDs can cut down a fleet’s servicing costs, allowing the fleet to save more on its operational expenses, be proactive with vehicle maintenance and management, and streamline operations.

Without further delay, let’s jump right in.

Detecting Fault Codes

A fault code (also known as a diagnostic trouble code) is a standardized alphanumeric value that corresponds to a particular vehicle fault. Created by the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers), this list is used by all automotive manufacturers that are required to comply with U.S. OBD II emission regulations.

Asian and European automakers have also adopted the same coding standard for their vehicles.

Some ELDs can connect to your truck’s diagnostic port to actively monitor faults detected by the ECM (engine control module). Whenever the device picks up a problem, it is conveyed as a real-time alert.

The early detection of these minor faults enables fleet managers to be one step ahead of their maintenance problems. The vehicle’s service needs can be anticipated without the need to inspect each vehicle physically.

With ELDs installed in your fleet, the risk of your team overlooking some maintenance issues can be drastically reduced.

These are some of the benefits that ELDs can help a trucking company with:

  • By setting up automated alerts for important events, you can get more involved with proactive driver and vehicle management.
  • Active fault codes are shown to users that include source details, descriptions, and time of detection.
  • By diving into historical fault code reports, fleet managers can identify recurring issues and take preemptive measures to rectify potential problems.

With the early identification and warning features, timely interventions can be made before the vehicle issues end up getting worse.

In parallel to being able to detect fault codes, most ELDs also come with a streamlined communications feature. These messaging programs are often integrated into the devices’ software to improve conversations between dispatch and drivers.

Upon recognition of the problem, fleet managers can alert drivers who are unaware of their vehicle issues to visit maintenance locations.

These truckers can then have their units inspected so the necessary repairs can be made before they go back on the road.

All of this become possible with ELDs and the data collected by it.

Improving Driver Behavior

Not every commercial driver drives perfectly. There are certain driving behaviors that not only promote wear and tear of vehicles but also contribute to fuel wastage.

To give you an idea of how damaging these bad driving habits can be, here are some facts that you can consider.

  • Fuel economy is reduced by approximately 0.1 mpg for every speed increase of 1 mph.
  • Increased speed hastens engine, tire, and brake wear and tear — accruing elevated maintenance costs for carriers.
  • Highway operators who reduce their top speed from 70 mph to 60 mph could save approximately $3,300 per truck annually.
  • Driving at 65 mph instead of 55 mph can consume almost 20% more fuel.

When drivers are careful with how they drive their trucks, vehicle components can last longer before needing to be replaced. Also, fleets can save thousands of dollars worth of fuel by correcting minor driving mistakes.

Excessive speeding tends to burn more fuel and hastens the degradation of engine parts that are working overtime. Slamming on brakes at these rates are also bound to grind and consume the pads.

The solution to this problem is to monitor your drivers’ style of driving and to ensure that they aren’t driving recklessly.

However, with a massive fleet size, I’m sure that you can’t help but wonder how road performance can even be tracked in the first place.

The answer is once again found in ELDs.

These devices are connected to the ECM port that most trucks are currently equipped with. The link between these two devices allows ELDs to tap into the data coming from the control module.

The information collected is then quickly analyzed and sent to the online fleet management dashboard that fleet managers can view from the home office.

Here are some features that ELDs have when it comes to correcting the way your drivers operate.

  • Fleet managers can estimate driver performances by looking into safety scores that ELDs measure, compute, and process. These values are functions of the number of times bad trucker habits were observed by the devices.
  • ELDs track the total number of times that drivers employ hard cornering, hard braking, speeding, and excessive acceleration. Managers can view the exact number of lapses that were committed by truckers to identify any weak points that need coaching.
  • All these information is organized in an easy-to-read format and stored in the online dashboard. Fleet managers can easily view and understand driver scorecards for easier management of high-risk drivers.
  • ELDs also take note of the specific time and location where each event occurs. Analysis of the repeated instances may provide insights on why drivers regularly repeat specific behaviors in certain areas. The information obtained may prove useful in helping truckers deal with their bad habits during proper training sessions.

This simplified monitoring and tracking feature helps fleet managers stay proactive in dealing with uncontrolled operators. Continuous and timely interventions would eventually reduce the likelihood of instances that may aggravate the wear and tear of the vehicle parts or excessive fuel consumption.

Save Fuel

Leaving the engine running while the truck is not in motion contributes to added expenses and wear and tear of the engine.

Idling comes with multiple negative effects that aren’t just bad for the environment. The practice also unnecessarily burns fuel and hastens the need for regular vehicle maintenance. A 2013 study conducted by Oak Ridge National Laboratory reveals several negative points about truck idling.

Here are six interesting insights that are taken from their publication:.

  1. Engine manufacturers continuously recommend against any unnecessary idling practices.
  2. Idling often produces sulfuric acid that can eat up engine surfaces and components.
  3. Excessive idling affects the lifespan of engine oil.
  4. Idling burns up fuel and causes a reduction in the fuel economy of fleets.
  5. Carbon soot buildup and engine wear often occur in engine components due to excessive idling.
  6. Heavy-duty vehicles consume about a gallon of diesel for every hour of idle time.

Also, the AASHTO (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials) came up with a demographic image showing their collated statistics regarding idle time.

Here are some important figures regarding the practice that was shown in the publication.

  • Reducing idle time by 30% can result in over $78,000 in fuel savings
  • With $3.00 per gallon of fuel, idle times can cost over $262,000 a year
  • A 30% reduction of idle time can save over a million dollars of preventive maintenance services on vehicles each year.

The facts and statistics show that truck idle time, indeed, poses a big problem in the trucking industry. It wears out vehicle components, wastes fuel, and results into a mountain of expenses for carriers to deal with.

With ELDs in the picture, however, you can drastically reduce this bad practice.

Most ELDs come with an idle time tracking feature. This feature enables you to pinpoint drivers who have unreasonably high idling times so that you can give them proper feedback.

Due to its connection to the ECM, ELDs can record each truck’s idle time.

The data then gets transferred to the online Dashboard for Fleets where it can be viewed and analyzed by fleet managers.

Here are just some of the features that make ELDs a great tool for idle time management.

  • With its comprehensive display, idle times and utilization rates can be noted per vehicle. These performance values can be compared with different drivers and terminal groups.
  • Reports can be generated to view specifications for each idling event. These details include duration, the amount of fuel that was consumed, driver name, and location.
  • A summary of a driver’s idling time can be viewed and compared against the average value of the fleet. Location and time specification settings can be used to determine where the habit can be minimized.
  • Drivers can be ranked in terms of utilization rate to see who wastes the minimum amount of fuel and who needs the most training to rectify his/her problems.

Get Better at Fleet Management

Fleet managers have a very tough job. Not having access to such valuable data can only double their burdens.

When fleet managers in other competitors’ companies are using ELD data, analyzing it, finding growth opportunities, and helping their drivers improve, it can look bad on you when you don’t do the same.

With the KeepTruckin ELD solution, however, you can do all this and much more. With features, such as idle-time tracking, driver scorecards, automated alerts, geofencing, GPS tracking, automated IFTA calculation, and vehicle diagnostics, you can reduce administrative burden and improve your company’s profits.

Request a FREE demo of the KeepTruckin ELD solution and get significantly better at fleet management.

If you have any questions, give us a call at 855-434-ELOG or send us an email at

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