The trucking industry experienced a notable decrease in maintenance costs during 2020. COVID forced many people to work from home and side-lined most fleets that didn’t qualify as essential in the early months of the pandemic. As COVID restrictions ease and the economy recovers, trucking companies need to be aware of the following maintenance trends:
- More expensive maintenance. Whether preventative or unplanned, fleets need to budget for more maintenance costs. Equipment manufacturers (OEMs) often recommend that trucks use synthetic oil, which shifts how fleets approach maintenance. Rather than scheduling maintenance every few months, trucking companies have to base it on the miles driven. While synthetic oil increases how many miles a truck can travel before changing the oil, it also increases preventative maintenance costs per service as synthetic oil requirements are more expensive.
- Parts shortages. As technology advances, trucks become more sophisticated and complex. The more involved a component is, the more parts it takes to repair or replace it. Unfortunately, many of these advanced parts require microchips, which have been in short supply. As demand for microchips continues to surge, the costs rise exponentially along with it. Even if fleets have the budget for the repair, their trucks may sit in disuse while waiting for parts to become available.
- Longer vehicle replacement cycles. In the past, fleets replaced vehicles based on time in service or miles driven. However, the additional preventative maintenance is allowing fleets to eke more life out of their trucks. The complexity of new trucks is also causing many fleets to reconsider retiring their existing vehicles. These high-tech trucks cost significantly more money than their predecessors do, and the ongoing parts shortage makes maintaining these new vehicles that much more costly and difficult.
- Increased labor costs. Part of the increased cost of preventative maintenance is the need for specialized labor. Electronic components and computer software are outside the realm of traditional maintenance. Technicians with the necessary skillset command higher salaries, but availability is a challenge as well. Many skilled technicians are retiring, and younger ones aren’t entering the industry fast enough to replace the loss.
The natural outcome of the recovering economy is a surge in traffic and delivery demands. While fleets should expect to see an increase in maintenance costs compared to 2020, preventative maintenance can help reduce expensive roadside repairs and unexpected breakdowns. Contact the experts at Interstate Motor Carriers to stay up to date with the latest maintenance and trucking safety regulations.