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What are Maintenance Records?

By Charity Delich
Updated May 17, 2024
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Maintenance records are written notes that provide documentation about the upkeep of a certain piece of equipment. Most of the time when people talk about these sorts of records in an industrial setting they’re referring to the formalized reports and files kept by fleet owners, industrial plant operators, or other business people engaged in some sort of work with machines. Keeping an adequate log of mechanical service and repairs in these scenarios is usually considered good business practice, and may also be required by law. Records are particularly useful in maintenance management because they help businesses ensure that their equipment is kept in good condition, and they also offer a way to manage and track repair and preventative upkeep expenses.

Records can also be used by individuals, however. Many people keep detailed records of personal automobile maintenance, and may also record service performed on home appliances like air conditioning units and back-up generators. This can streamline needed repairs and can also make re-sale a lot smoother.

Why They’re Kept

Regardless of the setting specifics, maintenance record management is often important for a number of reasons. For instance, a maintenance schedule can be invaluable in assisting service technicians with diagnosing repeat problems with a machine or vehicle. In addition, good records help department managers, employees, and even sometimes individuals, ensure that a piece of equipment is performing in line with any manufacturer warranties. They can also help companies track when a piece of equipment needs to undergo preventive maintenance.

There’s also a value basis to all of this. Keeping machinery in good working order is one of the best ways to protect it as an investment, and documenting that care can make the equipment more desirable if it’s ever sold since there’s proof that it was properly serviced. This is true for businesses as well as individuals. Used car sales are a good example — people who can prove with detailed records just how often their cars were maintained and serviced can often get a higher price than can people whose cars look to be working fine, but come only with verbal promises.

Thorough records can also be a buffer against liability. If a company gets sued in relation to a faulty piece of equipment, detailed records can be essential in supporting the company's case and showing that there was due diligence, for instance.

Main Elements and Basic Requirements

Personal records are usually the easiest to keep, and are usually little more than a file containing receipts and diagnostic reports about vehicle oil changes, services, and repairs. The results of any required safety inspections or emissions tests are usually included, too. These sorts of reports can be pretty informal; the main idea is to keep a log of what happened to the machine and when. They can be as simple as a notebook kept near the machine or a digitized spreadsheet with scanned-in reports and specialized notes.

The process for developing a business-oriented maintenance record plan is often a bit more formalized. First, the company will generally make an inventory of all of its equipment. Any item that needs to be periodically inspected or repaired should be included on this list and assigned a tracking number. Maintenance software can prove valuable in helping businesses organize all of this information. Whether the data is documented electronically or in hard copy, it’s generally considered good practice to keep a back-up copy somewhere in case the data is lost or accidentally destroyed.


After the inventory has been completed, the records simply need to be updated whenever work is performed. Generally, the records should document what type of work was carried out and when it was performed, as well as who actually performed it. When any inspections or equipment testing takes place, the record should reflect whether the inspection or testing followed manufacturer guidelines and company operating procedures. Expenses relating to labor and parts can also be documented in order to assist departments with budget forecasting.

Factory Settings

The use of maintenance records is particularly important in a factory setting, where a large number of expensive machines are used daily. These records can help make sure that any appropriate equipment maintenance or plant maintenance has been completed so that plant operations will run smoothly. For instance, a maintenance log detailing any repairs or service upkeep may be kept on a factory machine. This log can help avoid accidents or plant shut-downs resulting from defective equipment.

Automotive and Aviation Uses

Logs are also a really common part of fleet maintenance. Companies that lease or own large groups of trucks, for instance, often need to keep careful track of which vehicles are due for repair or are potentially in need of service before they’re sent out on long journeys or delivery calls. The same is true for aircraft fleet operators; airlines and commercial jet companies are often required by law to keep careful records of all routine services and repairs, as this can help prevent accidents and problems during flight.

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Discussion Comments

By tahira — On Jul 08, 2014

@seag47: You were talking about software maintenance. I want data related to software maintenance, like the corrections and enhancements requested by the user and their frequency of occurrence, with the execution time, also. I want to know how much time is taken by the developer to execute the corrections and enhancements. How many days are consumed to correct or enhance the software requested faults by the developer? This data can be from any software. Can you help me out, please?

By JessicaLynn — On May 13, 2012

I think that maintenance records should definitely be kept on a computer database instead of using a paper maintenance record sheet. Putting these records on a computer solves a lot of problems!

First of all, you don't have to worry about not being able to read bad handwriting. I have a friend who is a doctor, and she tells me this is how medical mistakes are made sometimes!

Second of all, everyone at the company can access the database from any computer and make changes or see what was done. You don't have to worry about hunting for some sheet of paper!

By starrynight — On May 13, 2012

I think record keeping is important in a lot of settings. For example, I used to work at an insurance agency and I would keep a record of exactly who I spoke to each day and what I did for them. Then, if there was some kind of problem, I could look at my records and refresh my memory.

Keeping automobile maintenance records at a business is basically the same. You can look back and see what was done so you don't re-do something accidentally! And you can make sure that the things that need to be done are actually getting done.

By Monika — On May 13, 2012

@Perdido - I completely agree! Personal auto maintenance records were the first thing I thought of when I was reading through this article. It's important for businesses to keep records, definitely, but it's important for individuals too!

I keep maintenance records for me car also. However, I got a little bit beyond just writing down what was done. I save all the receipts and paperwork in a file folder, so I can actually prove the work is done. This comes in handy if you want to sell your car, or you have a problem with the work that was done.

By seag47 — On May 12, 2012

We keep a maintenance record book in the office where I work. In it, we list every time we do maintenance on our computers.

We are supposed to write down every time that we update software or browsers. We also are expected to run an anti-virus program once a week, which takes about an hour to complete. We must record every time that we run this.

We use the record book to help our IT guy identify any problems that we may experience. If he is able to see what all has been done to the computers recently, then he can get a better idea of what the issue might be.

By Perdido — On May 12, 2012

It is important to keep your own car maintenance records. If you have several different businesses service your car or if you do everything on your own, you need to have a log of all the things that have been done to it in one central location.

My husband changes the oil in my vehicle, and I write down the date and mileage in a notebook that I keep in my glove compartment whenever he does this. I also write down the date and mileage of when I have my transmission flushed and certain parts replaced.

This comes in really handy. There is no way I could remember these details without the maintenance records, and keeping them in my car at all times means that I will never have to search for them.

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