Blessings to you, the readers of this page, in Jesus Christ our Lord. May He guide you and protect you always.
Rev. Bill McGinnis is a retired
ASE Certified Automobile Technician
and Night Foreman of a taxicab repair shop in Northern Virginia.
(For Diagnostic And Repair Information About Any Particular Car, Please Click HERE!)
Welcome to Auto Fleet Repair. This website is intended mainly for people who are involved in the management of automobile fleet repair shops. I am basing this website on my own experiences in the management of taxicab fleet repair shops in Northern Virginia. You are welcome to use anything of value you may find here.
Automotive fleet repair is different from regular retail auto repair, such as that at dealers, gas stations, etc. The main difference is that we, ourselves, are responsible for deciding what work gets done. We don't need to explain and justify everything to Mrs. Jones. If we think the car needs an alternator, we just put one on. We are thinking of the long-term interests of the owners of the fleet, rather than trying to sell a lot of extra work to make more profit for ourselves. We want our fleets to be safe, efficient, successful. We want the owners of our fleets to be happy.
Model T Ford Service & Shop Manual - for comparison with today's monster manuals.
NOTE: This general strategy is not meant for all fleets under all conditions. If you have very old cars, or Diesels, or if you are located in the Sahara or near the Arctic Circle, or if your cars frequently tow trailers over mountains, then this strategy is not for you. But if you have a "normal" fleet, driving under normal or moderately severe conditions, this strategy should be just right for you!
Where I used to work, we routinely get 350,000 miles out of the cars in our fleet of taxicabs, mainly Ford Crown Victorias, on the original engines. This is not done by magic, but by good, systematic maintenance and repair. You can do this, too, if you follow these rules we observe:
1. Change the oil every four thousand miles, religiously. Use regular oil, not synthetic; buy the highest quality regular oil you can find; 10W30 is fine for most applications in most cars. Whenever you change the oil, always change the oil filter, too. Funny things can happen inside of oil filters, and it's best not to push them too far.
2. Keep all dirt OUT OF THE ENGINES! This means change air filters and fuel filters regularly. Make sure the air intake system has no leaks which could allow unfiltered air to enter.
3. Never ever let your cars overheat. Caution your drivers to stop immediately and get it fixed if their car begins to overheat. Overheating means premature death to all kinds of hoses, seals, and gaskets in your cars.
4. Do not let your drivers hot-rod the cars. Drive them normally, exerting normal stresses on the various parts.
5. Set up a regular maintenance schedule for all your cars. Schedule the maintenance around your 4,000-mile oil changes. That is, while each car is in for its 4,000-mile oil change, do whatever else is scheduled at that time.
Make sure that one of the top technicians inspects each car during the oil change. You want him to take a look at everything and report any abnormalities. A low-skilled oil-change guy is a very bad idea. A wheel could be falling off, and he might not notice it. You want some sharp-eyed technician who can quickly spot anything which seems to be going wrong.
6. In general, replace parts, don't try to repair them. Replacement parts are made in factories, with the efficiencies of mass production. Parts repair is almost always a big waste of time in a fleet maintenance operation.
7. In general, use high-quality remanufactured parts where available, except for engines, where you should go with used engines, where possible. It's very hard to remanufacture an engine properly. The original manufacturer did a better job than the remanufacturer can usually do. Transmissions are a different story, however: we use Ford rebuilt transmissions which come in a box from the factory.
8. Avoid cheap tires and batteries. They are more trouble than they are worth. (Avoid cheap parts in general, for the same reason.) Buy all-season tires and maintenance-free batteries. Keep the terminals clean and dry on your maintenance-free battery. Since no battery acid should be able to reach your terminals, there is no need for any kind of grease or corrosion inhibitor. If you see corrosion, replace the battery: there is a leak.
9. The only real advantage to tire rotation is that it makes all of your tires wear out at the same time. We replace our tires one-at-a-time, as needed. If you find unusual tire wear, fix the underlying problem, which is usually worn front-end parts resulting in bad alignment.
10. Do not let anything squeak for very long. Squeaking means that improper friction is happening somewhere in your car. Find it and fix it.
11. Do not let anything grind for very long. A low-frequency grinding noise means that actual destruction is going on in your car! Find it and fix it.
12. Encourage your drivers to develop their sense of smell for automotive smells. Gasoline is one smell; exhaust fumes another; burning oil is another; transmission fluid is one smell, motor oil is another; coolant is a sickly sweet smell; brake fluid is another smell; battery acid is another; brakes overheating is one smell; rubber burning is another. These are the main ones. Encourage your drivers to learn them, and pay attention if they suddenly start to smell any of them.
13. Warn your drivers not to drive when a red warning light comes on. Tell them that the red ones are serious and must not be ignored. Better to stop the car and catch a cab than to destroy an engine for lack of oil, for instance.
14. The yellow warning lights are not as serious. They do demand attention, but the drivers don't usually need to interrupt a trip to get them fixed immediately.
15. Encourage your drivers to get to know their cars and love them. Tell them to be aware when anything seems to change for the worse. Tell them to pay attention and be aware of their car just as they are aware of their own bodies.
This means that we can subscribe to AllDataDIY for each of the fourteen exact cars we have, for a total cost of only about $220 per year (about $15 for each additional car after the first one at about $25.) This is far less than it costs retail auto repair shops, because they need to subscribe to the regular commercial package of AllData, which covers almost every kind of car, not just a few kinds. So AllDataDIY is huge bargain for a fleet repair facility!
If you want the absolute most complete information available, you also need the Factory Manual for each kind of car you have in your fleet. To order Factory Manuals online, please visit ourpage at Auto Factory Manuals. (At our shop, we have a few complete sets of Factory Manuals, but not one for every exact kind of car.)
Also, it is a good idea to have the Chilton "Total Car Care" book for each of your cars. You can get them here => Chilton's Total Care Manuals from J.C. Whitney The Chilton books are tried and true (as far as they go), and you will never go far wrong when you follow the Chilton "Total Car Car" book. By themselves, they are not really enough for a professional shop, but they are a useful supplement, in my opinion.
A final comment about AllData: AllData is not yet perfected. It still has some maddening omissions and imperfections, in my opinion. Nevertheless, it is extremely useful and valuable, and I want to have AllData available to me online for any car whatsoever that I am trying to work on. In particular, AllData is great because it lets you print out the exact pages you need for a procedure, and you can then have these pages with you while you work on the car. This is much better than dragging the Factory Manual with you and searching through it with greasy fingers. Another thing great about AllData: it has interactive links for each Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC). So you get the codes with your scantool, then you go to AllData to find out what to do with them! It's really great!
Blessings to you. May you be successful in everything you do!
Bill McGinnis <><
Please visit all of our automotive web pages at
BillMcGinnisAutomotive.com - "Helping people with their cars."
Automotive Service Advisor - For everyone who owns a car.
Fix-A-Car - For people who work on their own cars.
Automotive Tools And Equipment - Excellent list for the well-equipped shop.
Automotive Books And Magazines - Books and magazines about cars.
Automotive Art Gallery -
Free Automobile Bill Of Sale -
Scan Tools And Code Readers - "When the check-engine light comes on, what does it mean?"
Automotive Glossary - Glossary of automotive terms.
A General Strategy For Maintaining Your Car -
Automotive Diagnostic Trouble Code Definitions - See what the codes mean.
Automobile Diagnostics - The big picture of Automobile Diagnostics.
Ford Crown Victoria Diagnosis - By e-mail, free of charge. (Crown Vic only)
Selected Automotive Products And Services
Equus CanOBD2 Code Reader
The Formal Logic Of Automobile Diagnostics -
Automotive Tests - Do-it-yourself tests for your car.
AUTO FACTORY MANUALS - Most authoritative, detailed, complete information - where to get it.
AUTO FLEET REPAIR
Auto Safety Advisor - Practical advice for safer driving and accident reduction.
Tools4Cars - A Website devoted to automotive tools.
Automobile Technician - For the professional automobile technician.
U. S. Government Database: Automotive Recalls And Technical Service Bulletins (TSB's) -
Thanks for visiting and using Auto Fleet Repair.
Blessings to you. May God help us all.
Rev. Bill McGinnis, Director - LoveAllPeople.org
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