Fleet Maintenance

Fleet maintenance is crucial in running a safe, efficient and cost-effective transport operation. The penalties for your failure to do so, or your failure to adhere to the Operator License requirements are severe and can result in the closure of your business.  

What follows is a brief overview of the requirements of vehicle maintenance. There is also further information within this section relating to defects and vehicle equipment, as well as many direct links to the appropriate pages on government websites for further information and downloadable content to further assist you. 

Drivers Responsibilities 

Drivers and Operators must have a system in place to be able to report promptly any defects or symptoms of defects that could adversely affect the safe operation of their vehicles. To ensure full compliance, it is strongly recommended that procedural practices are in place and drivers are trained properly to ensure they are able to comply with their responsibilities. All drivers must complete the following checks prior and post taking any vehicle out:

  • A daily walk round check must be undertaken by a responsible person before a vehicle is used 
  • Drivers must be able to report promptly any defects or symptoms of defects that could adversely affect the safe operation of vehicles 
  • Reports must be made in writing and provision should be made to record details of any rectification work done 

To further assist you and your drivers in specifically noting what should be checked during drivers daily walk around check, DVSA has produced an HGV poster guide which we strongly recommend. Iis available to be downloaded at Further Reading below. 

Operator Responsibilities 

An Operators responsibilities start from the issue of the company Operator License, with maintenance intervals being laid down according to the type of operation the vehicles will be subjected to. Maintenance periods will vary according to the type of work undertaken and volume of mileage the vehicle fleet will be subjected to on a regular basis. 

First-use inspections are essential for operators who lease, hire or borrow vehicles, including trailers, from other people. Inspections, where vehicles and trailers have been off the road for some time, are also essential.  

Operators must ensure that checks are made regularly of items which affect roadworthiness. This also means that responsibility for the condition of all their vehicles (including any trailers) inspected and/or maintained upon their behalf by agents, contractors or hire companies. 

Where drivers are concerned, they must be given clear, written instructions about their responsibilities, with all drivers defect reports which record any faults being kept for at least 15 months. 

PMI’s (Preventative Maintenance Inspection) 

PMI’s (safety Inspections) must include those items covered by the appropriate Department for Transport annual test. They should be pre-planned preferably using a time-based programme and must be regularly monitored particularly in the early stages. There must be a system to ensure that unroadworthy vehicles are removed from service.  

Any remedial work carried out arising from safety inspections must be the subject of a written record. The safety inspection report must include:

  • Vehicle details 
  • A list of all items to be inspected 
  • When and by whom the inspection is carried out 
  • The result of the inspection 
  • Details of any rectification work 
  • A declaration that defects have been rectified satisfactorily 

On some types of vehicle and operations, intermediate safety checks may be necessary. Records of safety inspections must be kept for at least 15 months. Staff carrying out safety inspections must be competent to assess the significance of defects. Assistance must be available to operate the vehicle controls as necessary. 

Those Operators who undertake their own safety inspections must have adequate facilities and tools available. They must be appropriate to the size of fleet and type of vehicle operated and there should be access to a means of measuring brake efficiency and setting headlamp aim and measuring exhaust emissions. 

Operators who contract out their safety inspections must draw up, and have approved, a formal written contract with an inspection agency or garage. Contracting out does not mean you have satisfied the requirements of your 'O' License, you are obliged to regularly monitor the quality of work produced by your maintenance provider, by checking the Inspection Sheets returned to you, and if necessary, discussing any points that may be noted that could require interim maintenance prior to the next safety inspection. 

The dates when safety inspections are due must be the subject of forward planning. A maintenance planner or wall chart should be used to identify dates at least 6 months before safety inspections are due. Any system of maintaining the roadworthiness of vehicles should be effectively and continually monitored. 

Equally, these same inspection records should be in the hands of the operator within 48 hours latest (preferably 24 hours) to ensure that the maintenance provider hasn’t missed anything and the truck in question isn’t on the road with something as simple as a tyre fault. 

Interim Maintenance 

Vehicles and trailers don’t just require maintenance repair work at PMI, it may be the case that at the time of the PMI it was found that Discs would need replacing before the next PMI and either there weren’t any in stock.  

This fact would have been noted on the PMI record and any TM worth his salt would have picked up on this when checking the PMI record. It is at this point that the TM would have liaised with the maintenance provider and the vehicle would have been re-booked for the replacement of the discs in the next few days.  

Whether the maintenance provider is in-house or external a repair record would have been completed following the replacement of the discs and pads. An example copy can be found below. 

First Use Inspections 

First-use inspections are essential for operators who lease, hire or borrow vehicles. These are especially important where vehicles and trailers have been off the road for some time. Drivers must be able to report promptly any defects or symptoms of defects that could adversely affect the safe operation of vehicles. Reports must be recorded and provision should be made to record details of any rectification work done. 

A specimen maintenance planner (flow chart) can be downloaded below and configured for your own company use. 

Roller Brake Testing (RBT’s) 

Brake testing is an issue that has changed over the past decade as to the type and frequency of the brake test being carried out. The stance on this by some operators and some in-house maintenance providers varies, and so we have put together an example which we believe is correct and in accordance with the Traffic Commissioners requirement that an RBT should always be a loaded test and carried out at, before or just following a PMI. 


The operator is a tipper operator who has an in-house facility for their operational truck pre-mot works, plant and vans. However, all its operational vehicles are on full repairing and maintenance lease with a Volvo dealership? 

The tipper, grab or artic, on the date of its due PMI, will return to the garage in a loaded condition on the afternoon of the PMI. The vehicle or tractor-trailer is subject to a cursory check and then undergo a loaded brake roller test. The brake test report goes to the traffic office. If the test is a fail, brakes are checked and adjusted and the vehicle is re-tested. 

The vehicle is then unloaded and taken to the maintenance provider, which is a local Volvo dealer, for its PMI and a second brake roller test, however, this RBT is an empty one as they cannot work on a loaded vehicle 

The PMI and RBT from the Volvo dealer are in the TM’s email in-box by 08:00 the next morning where the PMI is checked and both RBT’s are compared. If everything is ok, all documents are then filed in the vehicle or trailer file. 

A similar system takes place prior to MOT although in this case, upon the vehicle arriving at the Volvo Dealership empty, once the PMI and any repairs are made, the dealership loads the vehicle themselves in readiness for its MOT. The dealership is also an ATF. 

To date this system has worked well and to prove the point, they enjoy a 100% first time MOT pass rate. 

Further Reading 

The following should assist in giving guidance and further information, please use the links below.