Beyond the current issue with parts availability, several other significant trends are impacting truck fleet maintenance costs and efficiency in 2022. Many factors can affect truck fleet maintenance costs beyond parts, from extended lifecycle needs to staff and labor shortages.
“There was an increased pressure on maintenance teams to extend the lifecycle of their vehicles due to persistent supply chain issues. This will likely continue into 2023 as recessionary concerns result in budget cuts, teams cannot buy new vehicles — or supply chain snags continue to hold up shipments. As a result, we saw an increased interest in predictive maintenance technology that helps teams maximize their existing assets and keep vehicles on the road for longer,” said Norm Thomas, fleet business consultant at Uptake.
Additional issues were discovered due to the extended cycling of truck fleet units.
“With the shortage of vehicles across our customer base, we saw some new trends in 2022 caused by fleets running their vehicles too much higher mileage than preferred. For example, more batteries hitting the end of their lives, as well as undercarriage and frame damage. We’ve also seen a rash of catalytic converter thefts in certain regions of the country,” Scot Wingo, CEO and co-founder of Spiffy.
All industries have been impacted by labor and staffing shortages, especially those with skilled labor needs.
“Maintenance teams were hit hard by the labor shortage due to a lack of skilled technicians, creating a backlog of repairs. The time it takes to train new technicians also takes away from time spent on maintenance. Another issue that impacted many fleets in 2022 was a lack of available drivers. Again, this resulted in an increased demand for technological solutions to help make maintenance easier (especially for less experienced technicians or smaller teams) and attract new drivers with the promise of fewer roadside breakdowns,” Thomas added.
And the lack of skilled labor also impacts OEM service and warranty.
“Across the industry, the technician shortage has been impactful, especially when considering the OEMs. It’s unusual to see facilities that don’t have enough workers to do the work,” said Amein Punjani, COO of Amerit.
We also can’t ignore the impact of theft on work truck fleets. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, in 2021, catalytic converter theft claims increased by 1,215% compared to 2019. And with roller coaster fuel prices, fuel theft is also a concern.
“Catalytic Converter theft has become an epidemic. Fuel theft is also on the rise. Companies should do what they can to protect their vehicles from both issues,” said Brett Klynn, director of fleet division & strategic business development at Wrench.
Regulatory compliance concerns also impact fleet maintenance.
Some additional issues include “increased ESG concerns for reduced e-waste, EV expansions, uncertain fuel costs, implementation of predictive maintenance, growing usage of big data analytics in the fleet, and labor shortages,” said Shay Misra, product marketer at Fleetio.
Topmost Overlooked Truck Maintenance Concerns
Work Truck checked with the subject-matter experts to find out what truck fleets are ignoring when it comes to fleet maintenance that should go back on the priority list:
- Brake fluid.
- Transmission fluid.
- Power steering fluid.
- Air filters/cabin filters.
- Aftertreatment systems.
- Batteries/battery terminals.
- Chassis lubrication.
- Spark plugs.
Klynn of Wrench noted that chassis lubrication is an often-overlooked work truck maintenance item.
“Conventional maintenance shops are used to working on light-duty vehicles with sealed components. Many of these shops don’t realize (or care) that larger trucks need some grease. We often see vehicles that don’t look like the zerk fittings have been touched in years,” Klynn explained.
Often, as noted by Punjani of Amerit, “the topmost overlooked work truck maintenance items are always going to be the non-emergency items that people want to ignore because it’s not an emergency repair or priority.”
And it’s essential to take note of what issues may be directly attributed to driver behavior. According to Thomas of Uptake, some examples include:
- Allowing the DEF level to drop to empty.
- Trash in DEF tanks.
- Issues with power on the battery.
- NOx issue caused by improper use of DEF.
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