Marc Poland, service manager at Sheehan’s Truck Centre, gave a presentation at Performance Innovation Transport’s (PIT) annual conference a couple months back and provided what I felt were some useful tips on how to expedite the service of your vehicle.

We all know repair shops are often backed up – especially in the cold weather months – but can you as a fleet do anything to get your truck in, fixed and back out on the road faster? Marc says so. Here are his suggestions:

Schedule repairs and stick to the original purpose of the visit: “Once it’s there, don’t add additional repairs if you can help it, if they’re not DOT,” he advised. “If your truck is booked in for a vibration problem, get it in for the vibration problem but don’t, when you’re at the counter, put another eight or nine lines on there and expect the dealer or repair shop to get the truck back on the road in the same timeframe, because it’s not going to happen…Defer non-DOT repairs to the next visit.”

Double-check the work done on the road by unfamiliar shops: “If you’ve got a repair that was done at Bubba’s Bait, Tackle and Truck Service in Pig’s Knuckle, Alberta, it’s a good idea to get that back into your shop or a repair facility that you feel comfortable with and have them check it out and make sure it’s a good repair,” Marc suggests. “Because there’s nothing (worse) than paying for the same repair twice. That could be something as simple as an electrical connector that hasn’t properly been sealed and is exposed to the elements.”

Ask drivers the 5 Ws (and 1 H): When a problem is reported, ask drivers the following questions: Who, what, when, where, why and how? “I don’t know how many times we’ve had trucks in the shop for repairs and it’s been the result of a fuse that’s been removed because the driver took it out to run his electrical blanket and it just happened to be the fuse that controlled the aftertreatment control module,” Marc points out. “When you have a driver on the line calling in to report a breakdown, as the questions. This will reduce your visits to the dealerships and will help keep you on the road.”

Spec’ common parts: Choose commonly used parts when spec’ing out your truck to increase the likelihood of those parts being in stock when needed, Marc suggests. “Let’s say you have a truck down for an air dryer and that air dryer is not something that’s common and it’s not something that’s going to be readily available at the dealership or even on stock units,” he adds. “It might be difficult for us to get the parts, to put them on the truck and get it back on the road. Volvo is great, as far as me being able to take parts from stock trucks in order to help our customers out, but if the parts aren’t common, I’m not going to be able to do that.”

Purchase extended warranty coverage: “Don’t learn the hard way,” Marc warns. “Warranty coverages are essentially an insurance plan to help control your costs.”

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James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 20 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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  • That first one is so true. I couldn’t count the number of times we get a unit in for some perceived issue then out comes the scroll. Fix this fix that while its here. It turns a 2 hour job into 8 and throws off the whole schedule.

    Another bad one is inspection. Usually the owner wants the CVIP issues fixed immediately. We say “We did the inspection. you have to rebook for repairs”. It is fine and dandy if we aren’t packed to the rafters.

    Also when you have a CVIP coming up, do it at the START of that month. That way you have a month to get some of the issues handled on a running basis. The mentality is to do it right at the end of the month and sticker for the next month, never anticipating any repairs. In reality if you can pull this CVIP one month overlap for 12 years you will save ONE inspection. Is it really worth the hassle?