More Miles Means More Maintenance Costs for North American Fleets

Photo: Jim Park

With new trucks hard to come by, North American fleets are running older equipment much longer. As a result, fleet maintenance costs are continuing to rise.

That’s what a new study commissioned by the American Trucking Associations, ATA’s Technology & Maintenance Council, and Decisiv has found, according to Decisiv President and CEO Dick Hyatt. The study found maintenance costs rose 3.7% in the fourth quarter and are up more than 10% from the previous year.

“The North American economy continues to impact parts and labor costs for fleets in several ways,” Hyatt noted during a press conference at the 2022 TMC Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida. “However, the ongoing drive to implement more effective and intelligent service management practices among fleet maintenance operations is helping ensure the highest possible levels of equipment utilization.”

In the latest Decisiv/TMC North American Service Event Benchmark Report, Hyatt said combined fleet parts and labor costs rose more than 10.8% when comparing the fourth quarter of 2020 with the fourth quarter of 2021. Labor costs saw the sharpest increase, jumping up 14.2%, while parts costs rose 8.8%.

Looking at TMC VRMS system-level coding, fleets spent the largest part of their budgets on maintenance and repairs on vehicle powertrain systems. Fleets reported spending around 36.8% of their budgets on powertrain repairs. Exhaust system repairs accounted for 14.2% of expenditures. Brakes were the third highest repair for fleets, accounting for 5% of all repair costs.

Hyatt noted that these higher cost percentages, particularly brake costs, may reflect the increased miles trucks are running, while higher engine and exhaust system could indicate current need to keep vehicles in service longer.

Those factors are also likely driving some of the ongoing parts and labor costs increases as well, he noted. Supply chain and inflation issues are likely also affecting parts prices, while increasingly higher labor costs are being driven by both the need for additional repairs on older vehicles and an increasingly tight labor market. This is causing fleets to spend more to retain and recruit technicians.

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