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What is a Preventive Maintenance Program?

By D. Jeffress
Updated May 17, 2024
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A preventive maintenance program is a systematic way of checking and repairing a machine, vehicle, or piece of equipment. Experts clean and inspect parts in hopes of preventing the need for big repairs in the future. By simply tightening screws and replacing parts that show wear, a repair person can significantly extend the life of a machine. Manufacturers and engineers often design very specific preventive maintenance programs for workers to follow when examining equipment.

When designing a preventive maintenance program, an expert will consider every possible defect that could affect a system. Based on simulated computer programs and physical prototype tests, research and development professionals record data about when and how a machine should be maintained. Professionals note parts that may be especially prone to wear and common problems that can reduce a machine's efficiency over time. A well-researched preventive maintenance program explains how to detect and correct minor faults before they result in larger problems.

A preventive maintenance program is usually outlined in an instruction manual or checklist, though experienced repair people often memorize the steps involved. The first step in many programs is thoroughly cleaning the exterior and interior of a machine. Removing dust and oil ensures that vents, piston chambers, and parts do not become clogged. Depending on the type of machine or equipment, gears may be lubricated, air filters changed, and bolts tightened. After a maintenance job, the repair person typically reassembles the unit and operates it to make sure that it runs correctly.

Ensuring that machines and vehicles are kept in proper working order reduces costs, improves efficiency, and preserves safety. A major, expensive repair job can often be avoided simply by keeping gears lubricated and changing damaged belts. In addition, regularly cleaning out a system like a large ventilation unit can greatly improve airflow and output. Most manufacturers recognize that the immediate costs of staffing preventive maintenance experts are much less than the potential repair costs and safety risks posed by older equipment.

Automobile manufacturers usually include a brief preventive maintenance program in owners' manuals so that customers will know how to extend the life of their vehicles. A vehicle guide usually provides instructions on how to check and change the oil and other engine fluids. It explains the importance of maintaining the air pressure in tires and checking brake pads at certain intervals. As with other types of preventive maintenance programs, owner's manuals often include a checklist and maintenance history log so that people can keep track of their repair jobs.

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Discussion Comments
By serenesurface — On Dec 10, 2014

@burcinc-- That's bad.

New cars actually come with several years of free maintenance from the servicer. So there is absolutely no reason to avoid maintenance. I can understand someone wanting to delay maintenance by a few weeks or a month due to financial troubles. But it should be taken care of at the soonest.

It's also possible to learn to change the oil oneself. My brother does it on his own. So those with an interest in cars and mechanics can run their own maintenance with some knowledge and experience. But inexperienced drivers should definitely have an expert do this as it could be dangerous for an amateur to try.

By burcinc — On Dec 09, 2014

My sister forgot to get regular maintenance for her car and now she is having to get an expensive repair. Since her car is fairly new, she thought that it wouldn't need maintenance too often. So she ignored issues with the oil, water levels, etc. Now her car has to get a thorough checkup and several repairs that will cost far more than what maintenance would have cost. I'm upset with her because she could have avoided all this fairly easily just by changing the oil and having the usual maintenance tests.

By candyquilt — On Dec 09, 2014

Any business that relies on machines for their production need to have in place a preventive maintenance program in place. Because if the machine breaks down suddenly, the cost isn't only repairing the machine but also the reduction in production.

In fact, predicting issues with machinery and preventing these issues is one of the major concerns of financial analysts. They want to make sure that production machines will be up and running all the time. Moreover, these machines are very costly so if the business had to replace one suddenly, it could set back the business that quarter.

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