Use engine diagnostics TO CUT COSTS AND MAINTAIN YOUR FLEET blog post featured image

Cut Fleet Costs

Imagine receiving an instant notification when one of your vehicles has a transmission malfunction or engine problem. Armed with this data – as well as a complete, instantly accessible online maintenance and repair history of the vehicle – you can make an informed decision about when and where to service it.

Now imagine that you have the ability to track and monitor the speed, location, engine performance, and driver behavior of every vehicle in your fleet – at any time, from virtually anywhere. That’s the power of a GPS tracking system with onboard diagnostics.

With this type of system, you can receive up-to- the-minute data on your engine and vehicle health, including:

  • True engine speed
  • MPG
  • Batterylife
  • Odometer readings
  • Engine hours
  • Calendar use
  • Emissions
  • Hard braking and accelerations
  • Power take offs(PTOs)

This information can help you streamline your entire maintenance process, control repair costs, reduce the risk of roadside breakdowns, extend the service life of your vehicles, and more.

 Onboard diagnostics provide up-to-the- minute readings on critical engine and vehicle performance data, including MPG, battery life, odometer readings, engine life, and more.


In the 1970s, as concerns about pollution from car and truck exhaust increased, manufacturers began looking for a way to remotely monitor vehicle emissions. This led to the development of the first onboard diagnostic (OBD) system. OBD systems initially focused only on diagnosing emission levels through the use of a small device attached to the engine. But over time, these systems became increasingly sophisticated as manufacturers added new diagnostic features.

Today, most vehicles are built with the EPA- approved onboard diagnostics standard called the OBD-II, which has the capability to diagnose both engine and emissions problems. It can also monitor parts of the chassis, body and accessory devices, as well as the diagnostic control network of the car. With these robust diagnostic and reporting capabilities, onboard diagnostics provide access to the status of many of a vehicle’s subsystems.



Although early OBDs proved useful, the real breakthrough came with the idea of combining OBDs with GPS tracking systems. The installed telematics device (technology that manages the long-distance transmission of computerized information) reads the engine diagnostic information directly from the onboard computer, and then sends it to the telematics system’s web portal via a wireless communications network. The information is then stored in the web portal, providing remote access to all vehicle data and reducing the need for manual logs to collect and manage the information.


Working together, telematics and onboard diagnostics can transmit highly accurate information about the performance of your vehicles and their engines. This allows you to make informed decisions – based on facts rather than guesswork – about the status of your vehicles and the appropriate action to take. Your technicians can work faster and more efficiently by using automatic diagnostic trouble code alerts and notifications instead of having to diagnose the problem. If your vehicles are serviced off-site, you can provide those technicians with accurate information about the problem that needs fixing.

Keep in mind that phone-based GPS tracking systems don’t have the ability to monitor this kind of information. Deriving full value from an onboard diagnostics requires a telematics system that can read the data directly from the vehicle’s onboard computer.


One of the biggest benefits of onboard diagnostics is the ability to warn users of potential engine problems at an early stage. That way you can arrange to have the vehicle serviced before small problems become bigger, costlier ones. The key to this “early warning system” is the OBD-II’s built-in engine diagnostic trouble codes, or DTCs.

DTCs are the mechanism that the OBD-II uses to identify engine and vehicle problems. Each problem has its own specific DTC, so when a vehicle’s service engine light comes on, it means a specific trouble code has been triggered. The DTC provides a precise description of the problem, which can reduce or eliminate the time-consuming step of diagnosing the problem before servicing the vehicle.

As soon as a DTC occurs, the OBD-II automatically sends it to the fleet manager or technicians in the form of a DTC alert. That way, you get notified of the potential problem if the driver fails to report the engine light warning, and in some cases even before the check engine light comes on.

For example, suppose one of your vehicles has an issue with the brakes. The OBD-II reports it to the telematics system, which automatically sends the DTC (in the form of an engine diagnostic alert) to your fleet management application. This provides the information you need to decide whether the problem needs fixing right away or can wait until the next scheduled maintenance. Either way, it allows you to address the problem proactively, making it easier to keep your vehicles in top operating condition.

Common DTC alerts include emission problems, cylinder misfires, air/fuel mixture, catalyst systems, fuel pump and fuel sensor problems, and more. Most fleet management systems allow you to send DTC alerts to as few or as many people as desired.

DTC Structure Identification


In addition to fixing engine problems in the early stages, onboard diagnostics can save time and money in many other areas of your fleet.

  • Eliminate manual data collection. With onboard engine diagnostics, you no longer havetophysicallyinspecteachvehicleorcall your drivers to get odometer and certain other meter values because the system automatically transmits the data.
  • Streamline maintenance. Fleetsthatdon’t get remote odometer readings often end up doing more or less maintenance than they need to because they bring vehicles in on a set schedule. Using remote odometer readings helps to streamline preventive maintenance processandmaintainanon-timerequired maintenance schedule.
  • Streamline maintenance scheduling. Most preventive maintenance is based on a vehicle’s mileage. A telematics system automatically calculates mileage, provides dailyodometerupdates,andnotifiesyou when vehicles have reached preset maintenance intervals.
  • Streamline maintenance procedures. When combined with a telematics system, engine diagnostics enable you to eliminate paperwork via online vehicle service tracking, and set proactive reminders for oil changes, tune-ups and other preventive maintenance. You can also analyze service reports to improve lifecycle maintenance management.
  • Control repair and replacement costs. Improved maintenance leads to healthier, more efficient vehicles with less risk of a breakdown or unexpected problems. Individual components last longer, which can lead to savings.
  • Lower fuel costs. By monitoring speeding and fuelusage,onboardenginediagnosticscan identify inefficient vehicles that need tune-ups, as well as drivers that engage in speeding. It can also report on excessive emissions to identify possible engine problems that can lower fuel efficiency. Using GPS fleet tracking helps to route your vehicles more efficiently, reducing total miles driven and overall less fuel usage.
  • Reduce idle times. Excessive idling wastes fuel, contributes to engine wear and tear, and can increase maintenance costs. By monitoring vehicle idle times around the clock, engine diagnostics allow you to identify vehicles with excessive idle times and coach drivers to improve their idling habits.
  • Increase driver safety. Unexpectedvehicle breakdowns can put your drivers at risk, including accidents, stranded drivers, and unsafe roadside conditions. DTC alerts can help reduce these unsafe events by helping you keep engine problems running smoothly and off the side of the road.
  • Monitor emissions. Highemissionlevels often signal deeper problems with a vehicle’s engine. Continuous monitoring of emissions using a diagnostics-based system helps to identify engine problems in the early stages rather than waiting for the yearly or biennial emissions reporting or smog checks. This can help save the time and expense of performing larger, more complex repairs. It also makes it easier to stay in compliance with governmental emission requirements.

The result is a healthier fleet that can save you time and money while keeping your vehicles on the road. This, in turn, enables you to improve productivity, take on more work, and increase revenues.


Verizon Networkfleet’s GPS tracking system is designed to work seamlessly with today’s OBD-II engine diagnostics technology. Engine data is accurately recorded and quickly sent to your fleet application via our reliable network coverage. Once the data is received, you can run customizable reports, set up alerts, and monitor the performance of every vehicle in your fleet from one easy-to- use web portal.

The result is an efficient engine monitoring system that helps you:

  • Keep your fleet on the road where it can be productive
  • Easily schedule and perform maintenance
  • Control maintenance costs
  • Reduce vehicle downtime
  • Enhance driver safety
  • Improve customer service
  • Extend the life of your vehicles

To learn more about how our telematics solution works with onboard engine diagnostics to help utilize your vehicles and fleet resources more efficiently, please call us at 1.888.447.7059


In some cases, controlling labor costs can lead to diminished service quality. With GPS vehicle tracking, you can control labor costs and improve service quality by managing your entire fleet more efficiently. Telematics helps you achieve these goals by:

  • Monitoring driver and vehicle performance 24×7
  • Using speeding alerts, idle time reports, and other vehicle data to pinpoint problem areas and create strategies for improvement
  • Optimizing routing and vehicle utilization to reduce overtime and other inefficient use of labor
  • Using system data to enforce company policies and reward drivers for developing more efficient driving habits

With GPS tracking, you can also reduce the amount of time drivers spend behind the wheel (by driving fewer miles), reduce driver downtime by helping prevent vehicle breakdowns, and use trip and fleet utilization reports to boost driver productivity. Your drivers can get more work done in the same amount of time or less, helping to lower costs and improve customer satisfaction.

 Working together, telematics and onboard diagnostics systems transmit highly accurate information about the performance of your vehicles and their engines.


A wireless fleet tracking system provides the engine diagnostics data you need to develop the discipline required to streamline the maintenance process and control costs. With telematics, you can:

  • Eliminate paperwork via online vehicle service tracking and intuitive maintenance management features
  • Set proactive reminders for oils changes, tune-ups and other preventive maintenance activities
  • Control repair costs and help extend the life of vehicles by automatically tracking all service records, including maintenance performed, date of completion, and the service technician
  • Monitor automatic engine diagnostic alerts to identify minor problems before they become major ones, helping reduce expensive roadside repairs
  • Analyze comprehensive service reports to improve fleet health and lifecycle maintenance management

Better maintenance also helps you reduce idle times, improve fuel efficiency, and more. You save time and manage costs – including reduced overtime caused by unexpected breakdowns and repairs – while operating your entire fleet more efficiently.


Driving fewer miles puts less wear and tear on tires and other vehicle parts, so they need to be replaced less often. For example, telematics can help control costs associated with cracked windshields and other types of damage that increase according to how much time a vehicle spends on the road. To reduce total miles driven, telematics provides a diverse array of features and functions that help you:

  • Make better dispatching decisions by viewing near real-time maps of all vehicle locations and their status
  • Route the closest vehicles to the next job and provide point-to-point driving directions
  • Review fleet utilization reports to monitor overall fleet mileage trends and develop more efficient routes
  • Use landmarks and geofences to help reduce unauthorized and off-hours vehicle usage
  • Use jobs management and dispatch capabilities to schedule and organize job assignments more efficiently

 Deriving full value from an onboard diagnostics solution requires a telematics system that can read the data directly from the engine’s computer.


One cost reduction area associated with telematics that often gets overlooked is the potential to lower fleet insurance premiums. By itself, using a fleet tracking system to monitor vehicle and driver performance is not enough to impact your rates. However, when used as part of a fleet safety program that includes using GPS tracking data to coach employees to drive more safely, telematics can often contribute to lower insurance premiums.

The key is showing your insurance carrier that you are using the GPS tracking data to improve fleet safety. For example, suppose monitoring your vehicles identifies speeding as a fleet-wide problem. Unless you take corrective action to reduce or eliminate the speeding, it will not have an impact on your premiums. Not all insurance companies offer discounts for utilizing vehicle tracking systems. However, many will consider your telematics safety program when setting their premiums.

 Engine diagnostic trouble codes warn you of potential engine problems so you can service the vehicle oftentimes before small problems become bigger ones.


Accidents, traffic violations and other risky driver behaviors can also add to fleet operational costs. GPS vehicle tracking can help reduce these events and their associated costs by providing more visibility into what your drivers are doing while on the road.

For example, automatic speeding alerts notify you when speeding incidents occur, so you can take immediate corrective action. You determine the criteria for the alerts – such as speed thresholds, time of day, type of vehicle, etc. – and the system automatically sends the alerts when a violation occurs. To further support your efforts to modify driver behavior, system reports provide “after the fact” data on all speed-related incidents. These customizable reports allow you to organize the data by driver, vehicle, location, number of violations, and more. With this information, you can discipline drivers who continually violate company policies and create incentive programs to reward drivers who comply with them.

Speeding isn’t the only driver behavior that increases the risk of accidents or injury. With a vehicle tracking system, you can also monitor seat belt usage, hard braking, and hard acceleration to help improve driver safety. And in those rare cases where drivers might be falsely accused of speeding or reckless driving, you can defend against these claims by providing precise data on the vehicle’s speed and location.

 Onboard diagnostics can help save time and money in many areas of your fleet, including lower fuel and streamlined maintenance processes.

In well-managed fleets, everyone takes responsibility for controlling costs – not just management. Networkfleet, one of Traxxis GPS solutions, makes it easy to get the right information to the right people when and where they need it, allowing you to correct problem areas and identify opportunities for improvement throughout your fleet. When implemented with a disciplined, focused approach, Networkfleet helps you control costs, automate processes to avoid wasting time and money, and utilize your people and your vehicles more effectively. The result is a leaner, more efficient fleet that can help improve your business and your bottom line.

To learn more about how our GPS fleet management solutions can help you control costs and utilize your fleet resources more efficiently, call us today at 1.888.447.7059.