The Importance of Vehicle Maintenance Files (VMF)

Anyone owning a vehicle should realize the importance of maintaining upkeep on it. It’s even more important when it’s your commercial vehicle as this is how you put food on the table for your families.

The FMCSA requires that any maintenance done to a commercial vehicle for use in a for hire or private fashion be maintained through record keeping at your place of business. There are specific documents required to be kept as well as maintenance to vehicles and the files retention period. These regulations apply to any owned or leased vehicles being operated for a minimum of (30) days that meets any of the following: Transporting (8) or more passengers including the driver, has a GVM or GCWR of more than 10,000 lbs. or carries hazardous materials. Each vehicle (including trailers) should have its own dedicated file for maintenance information. You want to clearly identify receipts of repair and regular maintenance and always, always document ANY roadside inspections. A good rule of thumb to use for vehicle maintenance is using a spreadsheet on the front. Write down any repairs and maintenance as they happen and place the documentation in the folder. On this spreadsheet, it’s also a good idea to notate the next annual inspection due. Retention periods for vehicle maintenance files is a minimum of (12) months UNLESS it contains annual DOT Inspection Reports. These reports must be retained for (14) months.Refer to FMCSA Regulation 396.3 for more information on vehicle maintenance.

See below for what should be in each vehicle maintenance file:

Each vehicle (including trailers) should be assigned a unit number (ex.: 001), include the year, make and model, VIN number, tire size, owner’s name (if not carrier), and the maintenance schedule.Always check with the FMCSA for updates to the VMF rules and regulations.

Recordkeeping and Retention Periods
Annual Vehicle Inspection Report (must be kept 14 months)
Pre-Trip Inspection
Inspection, Repair and Maintenance
Preventative Maintenance Report
Order to Move CMV
Truck Repair and Work Order
Trailer Repair and Work Order
Driver’s Time Record / Record of Duty Status (must be kept for 6 months from date)
Accident Register (must be kept for 3 years from date of accident)
Lease Agreement (if vehicle/trailer is leased)
Any Roadside Inspections (must be kept 12 months)
Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (must be kept 3 months)

Other files encouraged to keep are:
Inspector Certifications
Copies of any accessible documentation required in vehicles

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