We wanted to look at a not-oft-talked-about aspect of driving a large commercial motor vehicle, and that’s its cleanliness. Whether you are an enterprising owner-operator or a conscientious fleet manager, you realize that your rig is a rolling billboard for your business.
Whether goods were being hauled in a horse-drawn carriage or a Class 8 big rig, how they looked was a direct representation of the company carrying those goods. Colorful, clean vehicles portray a clean, positive image of a fleet and its services. The opposite can be true if the vehicle is dirty or damaged. Which message would you want your truck to convey?
Another thing to consider that this goes beyond public perception. Consider that a dirty truck is quite literally a rolling bullseye for DOT officers. Whether it is true or not, they automatically assume that a dirty truck is likely also a poorly maintained truck. Of course, you’ll never get that on record, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
When you are investing in fleet maintenance there are three considerations you should make. Keep the following in mind:
- Brand appeal
- Resale value
How your vehicle appears has a direct impact on these goals. Most of all, showing your fleet in a positive light is the most impactful of all three aspects. Your brand appeal is very important.
Product Improvements and Corrosion
If your vehicle’s finish is not properly maintained, you will find the clarity of the paint fading over time. This leads to a direct decrease in the vehicle’s resale value. Keeping the finish clean not only helps it look better, but it will keep the vehicle from developing a dull, faded look over time.
The industry has also evolved quite a bit in the modern age. Where paints used to be prone to fading and ‘chalking’ as they refer to it, now they last quite a bit longer without losing a significant amount of their luster.
Still, even the best paint can’t withstand an onslaught of corrosion, brought about by road chemicals. A vehicle’s first line of defense against the serious effects of chemical corrosion eating away at the vehicle is its cleanliness.
The consequences of failing to keep your vehicle clean from a corrosion standpoint are dire indeed. This goes far beyond failing paint, it’s not unheard of for an oil pan to drop off or a radiator to internally rot away. From electrical wiring to other critical components, corrosion is a killer.
Practicing Preventative Maintenance
Making sure your vehicle is clean is as much about how it looks as it is about preventative maintenance. Regular washes and wax jobs need to be considered a part of a consistent maintenance program.
Do you have a wash bay at your facility? If you are an owner-operator, when was the last time you visited the wash bay? Have you considered hiring an outside company to keep your trucks clean?
Today, there are products that offer solutions to different levels of cleaning and maintenance, along with detailed step-by-step procedures on how to use them.
Additionally, you should make sure you are assigning a timeline to your washing schedule. When it comes to washing, waxing, polishing and cleaning the interior and exterior surfaces, think on a monthly or bi-monthly basis.
Of course, one consideration is that of frequency of use and geography. Vehicles operating in the Northeast needs special attention paid to road chemicals and frequent washing. Conversely, regional haulers who spend a significant time at idle may need less special care.
Always remember, your truck represents your fleet out on the open road. How it looks is as much about how you present yourself as it is about how safe and reliable are your vehicles are on the road.