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Uncovering Vehicle Maintenance Regulations and Violations To Be Aware of

Vehicle maintenance regulations and violations concept: wrench, car, and legal document symbolizing compliance in the automotive industry.

Uncovering Vehicle Maintenance Regulations and Violations To Be Aware of

Hey everyone, Dan here! I wanted to share some more about FMCSA regulations and in this articles we’re going to cover Vehicle Maintenance Regulations. In case you missed our last post on Hours of Service (HOS), you can read it here. That was the first part in the series around FMCSA regulations and covers in-depth HOS regulations and violations.

I know I’ve been talking quite a bit about FMCSA regulations, but the reason why is that they are important. I want to be sure you are safeguarding your company and if you’re a driver, protect you from any potential violations that may impact you in your day to day. 

Let’s go over vehicle maintenance regulations and get a deeper look at what these regulations are. There are quite a lot but trust me, it’ll be great to be caught up so you can take some of these insights and share them with your team. 

Insights Into Vehicle Maintenance Regulations:

Keeping your fleet in top-notch condition isn’t just good practice—it’s a legal requirement under FMCSA regulations. After all, nobody wants to drive a rig that is in poor shape! Inadequate vehicle maintenance can lead to mechanical failures, accidents, and serious safety hazards on our roads. I’m always stressing about safety. Safety as I mentioned in our last post is critical. Being safe on the road means that you should consider everyone on the road, so this is why safety should always be a top priority!

Staying on top of maintenance tasks and adhering to FMCSA standards is crucial for every carrier. Now, onto the next bit, record keeping. The thought of keeping records should be another priority if you’re a company or driver. Let me put it this way, if you got pulled over for any reason and you have records out of date, this could be a massive mistake for many reasons. One, you could potentially face fines. Two, you can also put your business at risk. Now why would you want to do that?

Vehicle Recordkeeping Requirements:

Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIR): Before hitting the road, drivers must conduct thorough pre-trip inspections and document any defects or deficiencies in a Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR).  When I train drivers who are getting their CDLs, I tell them about this. What to look for and things to write down in the DVIR so that way they are clear to hit the road. There’s another piece of this also, the post-trip inspection. 

Post-trip inspections are also required once you finish your trip. These two reports serve as critical records of the vehicle’s condition and any maintenance needs after a haul is complete. Without these files, you probably would not know if your vehicles are in tip-top shape to do more hauls which means that again, you’re putting yourself at risk of facing potential fines.

Carriers are also responsible for maintaining detailed records of all maintenance activities, including repairs, inspections, and servicing. These records must be retained for at least one year and made readily available during roadside inspections and audits. Again, another important thing to consider. These records also serve as a way to keep track of what vehicles may need to be serviced or replaced entirely. 

Roadside Inspection Requirements:

FMCSA conducts roadside inspections to ensure vehicles are operating safely and in compliance with regulations. Inspectors may review vehicle maintenance records, inspect critical components, and issue violations for non-compliance. Again to remind you that these violations could lead to fines, but if these vehicles are not safe, they could lead to a potential out-of-service order being issued. Which means revenue lost. Who wants that? I know I wouldn’t if I was operating a fleet of 100 or more. 

Whenever a vehicle undergoes repairs or maintenance, carriers also need to write detailed repair orders documenting the work performed, parts replaced, and the date of service. These repair orders serve as evidence of compliance during audits and inspections. I hope that this all makes sense because with these records on hand, you’ll be protected and your drivers will be protected. I always make it a point to drill down with my team that these records are all important. 

For example, if a vehicle is found to have a critical maintenance violation during a roadside inspection, it may be placed out of service until the violation is corrected. In addition to the cost of repairs, your company may face fines for each violation found. These fines can vary widely depending on the nature of the violation and whether it’s a first-time offense or a repeat violation. But one thing I do know is that these fines can add up! That’s one fine PER violation! So try to take into account all that I covered before so that you’re protected. 

Common Issues and Challenges with Vehicle Maintenance:

Failure to maintain records of vehicle maintenance activities can lead to compliance issues during audits or roadside inspections. You must ensure all maintenance and repair activities are documented promptly and accurately. I think I’ve covered this quite in detail on why this is important.

One thing that you should be aware of if you’re not already is that delaying repairs a big no-no! Delaying necessary repairs or maintenance to save costs can result in vehicle breakdowns, mechanical failures, and safety hazards on the road. You should prioritize timely maintenance to ensure the safety and reliability of your fleet. Or if you’re a driver, always take care of what needs to be repaired ASAP so you’re safe on the road with your haul.

Another thing I’m always telling leaders and even customers I work with is to always ensure their team is aware of these regulations. I hold regular training sessions with my team so that they know what to look for when conducting micro audits or when they are helping our customers out. Inadequate training for drivers and maintenance personnel on proper inspection procedures and maintenance practices can result in oversight of critical safety issues. 

By adhering to FMCSA’s vehicle maintenance regulations, maintaining accurate records, and prioritizing safety, you can ensure that your vehicles operate safely and efficiently on the road. Compliance with these regulations not only mitigates risks but also enhances the reputation and reliability of your company’s operations. Wouldn’t you want to be seen as a top leader in safety? We always take pride in ensuring that we follow all regulations so that we can champion ourselves in the world of DOT. We want to be seen as top safety leaders, and there’s no reason why you can’t do the same! 

FMCSR Record Retention:

In the world of transportation compliance, paperwork isn’t just a necessary evil—it’s your lifeline. FMCSA regulations demand meticulous recordkeeping, from the moment your driver starts their engine to the final inspection of your fleet. Failing to keep accurate records isn’t just a paperwork problem; it’s a liability waiting to happen. Fines, fines, and more fines. These do add up and I hope you’re seeing just how the FMCSA could fine you for just about any little thing.

For example, if your driver completes their pre-trip inspection, noting a minor issue with the brakes in their Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR). However, due to a hectic schedule, the repair is postponed, and the issue slips through the cracks. Fast forward to an audit, and that overlooked DVIR becomes a glaring red flag, putting your compliance—and your reputation—on the line. And not to mention the fine you’re going to face just by letting this sit on the back burner.

FMCSA audits are thorough, and they leave no stone unturned. Incomplete or inaccurate records can raise serious concerns about your commitment to safety and regulatory compliance. Whether it’s missing driver logs, incomplete maintenance records, or overlooked inspection reports, any gaps in your paperwork could land you in hot water during an audit. This is why you have to be absolutely sure you take care of these records and that they are properly stored so you can reference them if you ever face an audit. 

Managing the mountain of paperwork required for compliance can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Implementing streamlined recordkeeping processes, leveraging technology like electronic logging devices (ELDs), and providing comprehensive training for your staff can help ensure that no record goes missing when it counts.

In the face of ever-changing regulations and the constant influx of paperwork, it pays to have experts in your corner. Companies like ours specialize in helping carriers navigate the complexities of compliance, offering tailored solutions to ensure that your recordkeeping practices are not just up to par, but ahead of the curve.

By prioritizing accurate and comprehensive documentation, you’re not just staying compliant; you’re safeguarding the safety of your drivers, protecting your business, and ensuring smooth sailing through even the toughest audits. So, don’t let paperwork pile up and become a liability. 

Get ahead of the game with meticulous recordkeeping practices that keep you on the right side of the law and ahead of the competition.

I hope this was a good and easy read for you. I highly encourage you to share this with your team. So, the next time you find yourself drowning in a sea of paperwork or grappling with a tricky compliance issue, remember that you don’t have to do it alone. Utilize our expertise and guidance and you can navigate the complexities of FMCSA regulations with confidence, ensuring the safety and success of your operation. 

Let us help you understand these regulations, contact us today to see how we can help you with your compliance.

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