Effectively and efficiently performing vehicle condition report writing is a skill unto itself. Although simple at first glance, a well-thought-out process for completing vehicle condition reports is essential to a successful inspection and documentation program.
This guide will cover everything from what to look for during your inspection to the report’s different sections and how to fill them out appropriately. Having a solid understanding of how to write a vehicle condition report will help ensure that any damage or issues with the vehicle receive adequate documentation, which can be crucial in the event of a dispute.
Functional vehicle condition report writing requires five primary elements within the process to achieve the best results:
- A standardized inspection process.
- A universal documentation procedure.
- Uniform terminology.
- Ease of data capture.
- Simple to exchange information.
In order to fully grasp the importance of these items, let’s start at the beginning and build a strong foundation. Let’s dive in.
What Is A Vehicle Condition Report?
A vehicle condition report is somewhat evident; however, what nuances exist within this seemingly blatant self-describing term. Obviously, we know that a vehicle condition report is a documentation of observations regarding the visual and operational conditions. However, what does this mean for a business?
A vehicle condition report is much more than a mere document of observations made regarding a vehicle. The report is also several other things:
A Means To Communicate Issues With A Vehicle
The concept is not to complete a Vehicle Condition Report and then throw away the document. It is a means for you to communicate that something was observed that requires attention. From a simple scratch to a knocking engine, recording observable data regarding a vehicle’s condition helps the driver acknowledge problems in the vehicle that occurred before the vehicle’s use. Similarly, the report helps fleet managers to know when a vehicle requires maintenance or repair.
A Way Of Tracking Wear And Tear Over Time
As just mentioned, fleet management can use the Vehicle Condition Report to track their fleet’s maintenance requirements. However, when it comes to equipment depreciation, tracking how a vehicle’s wear and tear occurs over time with use can be invaluable when calculating the value of current assets.
Documentation Of Safety Competency
A Vehicle Condition Report is also a means for drivers to document their safety regulation compliance. For example, suppose mandates exist within your organization that drivers must complete a pre-trip inspection (as is mandated by law in many regions). In that case, the VC Report shows the inspector completed the review.
Similarly, the inspection document also acts as a means for fleet personnel to document their strict adherence to the administrative regulations.
When To Complete A Vehicle Condition Report
Most organizations that utilize fleet vehicles require that the vehicle is a party to a pre-trip inspection. Some companies also include post-trip checks. Furthermore, some companies (such as logistics) will deem that a daily pre-trip inspection and an inspection every so many miles is mandated.
Most regions require that company vehicles be inspected before use. However, a condition report is something slightly different than a safety inspection. However, it does incorporate the basics of operational vehicle safety simultaneously.
Our recommendation is to base your vehicle condition report frequency on several factors:
- What does the law state in your region regarding workplace vehicles and their inspection frequency?
- What type of vehicle is it, and what is its intended purpose?
- What condition is the vehicle currently facing?
These three questions, if answered, will provide valuable insight as to the frequency at which a vehicle condition report should take place. Most regions will require a pre-trip inspection at a minimum. Still, if merely looking at vehicle conditions and performing safety inspections separately, the frequency might not be needed frequently.
How To Write A Vehicle Condition Report In 5 Steps
We now know what vehicle condition reports are when they should be completed, and their purpose. Now to dive into how to create an effective vehicle condition report.
Before we begin; however, you must understand the following:
Vehicle Condition Reports must be factual
The vehicle condition report should not include personal comments/opinions regarding vehicle conditions (unless clarification is needed). Nor should it include disclaimers that attempt to justify observations about vehicle conditions; The vehicle condition report serves as documentation only.
Essential Steps To Writing A Vehicle Condition Report:
Step 1 – Checklist Creation
When performing any inspection, having a checklist can prove invaluable. But rather than just a simple vehicle condition checklist, the vehicle condition report requires a vehicle condition checklist. The reason being is that a vehicle condition report should include all vehicle observations – not just vehicle conditions.
Step 2 – General Condition
This section of the vehicle condition report records any general observations about the vehicle’s current appearance and cosmetic issues. For example, if there are scratches on the side panel or rust/chips around where screws attach panels, record it in this portion of the vehicle condition report.
Step 3 – Vehicle Interior
If you notice any stains or debris within the vehicle’s interior, note them. However, remember that vehicle condition reports should not contain any personal comments/opinions. So only record interior vehicle issues that will be factual.
Step 4 – Vehicle Exterior
If exterior vehicle concerns exist within the vehicle’s current state, they need recording in this section of the vehicle condition report. Remember: vehicle condition reports should any damage be noticed, even if it is known to exist or known from a previous report previously. Every report must look at the vehicle with fresh eyes.
Step 5 – Safety Concerns
In order to adhere to all occupational safety regulations, vehicle operators must go through a pre-trip inspection before use and perform regular checks every so many miles (depending on company regulation).
This portion of the vehicle condition report is generally concerned with operation and safety equipment such as emergency brakes and engine operating conditions. Additionally, vehicle condition reports should also include vehicle mechanical issues.
If you need a Vehicle Condition Report Template, then look at our downloadable report here.
The basics of writing a Vehicle Condition Report are covered. However, when it comes to the actual documentation of issues, we need to have a solid understanding of how to judge and document the vehicle’s conditions properly.
Describing Vehicle Conditions
How do you describe car conditions? That’s a great question. There is specific terminology used to describe various functions and aspects of a vehicle’s condition. Let’s take a look at some of the standard terms used.
There are three considerable resources for understanding vehicle value (and thus the terminology to describe vehicle conditions). These resources are:
Although all three of these vehicle guides have conditional terminology, we’ll use the most commonly accepted – Kelley Blue Book.
Kelley Blue Book Terms To Describe Vehicle Condition
Kelley Blue Book is a commonly utilized database for estimating the value of a used vehicle. As such, the terminology used by Kelley is known as an industry standard.
Excellent – A vehicle that looks new, does not need reconditioning, and works in excellent mechanical order. The vehicle will be free of rust, bodywork, or re-painting. Full-service records should also be available, and the vehicle must also have a clean title history.
Good – A vehicle free of any significant defects is deemed in good condition. Only minor blemishes would be apparent such as small stone chips or similar. There should be almost zero rust and require minor reconditioning.
Fair – A fair vehicle is in decent running condition but may require servicing. Again, the vehicle should have a clean title history and will likely need professional work to bring it to good condition.
Poor – Severe defects in cosmetics or mechanical systems will push a vehicle into the realm of poor quality. Similarly, severe issues may arise, such as frame damage or body perforation. Independent appraisal is a wise choice if even considering a poor condition purchase.
What Determines The Condition Of A Car?
The determination of a conditional title such as one of the four listed above is based on three primary factors:
- Vehicle appearance.
- Vehicle history and mileage.
- Vehicle mechanical function.
Vehicle Damage Diagram Template
Performing a vehicle condition inspection requires a diagram for the utmost understanding of damage location on the vehicle. With so many body shapes and sizes of vehicles, it is understandable to see how a diagram becomes necessary.
We have created a downloadable Vehicle Condition Report template that will function for a truck or a car of standard design. Take a look at the report to see a dual vehicle damage diagram in action.
You can expect to see a diagram like the following:
On the report, you will note any of the issues observed during the inspection. Typically, report templates have a chart like that shown above and use a numbering and coding system to record the observations.
Wrapping Up A Vehicle Condition Reporting Process
Now that you understand the ins and outs of vehicle condition report writing, you are ready to step to the next level of vehicle inspection management.
If a simple paper form is your preference, you can download our Vehicle Condition Report template by visiting our guide here.
Perhaps you prefer a more robust technological solution for your inspection and reporting needs. If this is the case, give the 1st Reporting app a try. It’s available on Google Play and The Apple App Store and works on nearly any android or iOS device.
If you need help with vehicle condition report writing, our team of experts is ready and waiting to partner with you. Contact us today for a free walkthrough on how we can take the headache out of vehicle inspection reports. We can do this by providing an easy-to-use digital reporting platform that will walk you through what to look for during your vehicle inspection process.