Mileage between breakdowns rises, but so do repair costs

Sep 20, 2021 | Articles

Jim Stinson

Dive Brief:

  • Labor costs for repair and maintenance increased 2.6% between Q1 and Q2, according to Decisiv’s and the American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council’s North American Service Event Benchmark Report. Overall, cost of parts increased by 2.8% in the same time period, with tires increasing 10.7% and the cost of transmission parts rising 9%.
  • But time between breakdowns is improving. TL carriers averaged 23,769 miles between breakdowns, up 8.8% from Q1, according to a survey by TMC and FleetNet America.
  • LTL carriers bettered their performance by 4.1% from Q1 to Q2, increasing to 46,186 miles from 44,380 miles, according to the TMC/FleetNet America survey. The tank sector had a 4.7% improvement, running 18,241 miles in Q2, up from 17,420 in Q1.

Dive Insight:

Unscheduled maintenance and breakdowns have been a rising cost issue since early 2020, but now the issue of inflation appears to be rearing its head. Costs have been spiraling upward for quite some time.

In June 2020, FleetNet reported Q1 2020’s cost for a mechanical repair was $491, 30% higher than repairs in Q4 2019.

The arrival of COVID-19 worsened the costs, not because the raw materials behind steel and rubber became more rare, but because the supply chain slowed at first and is now currently experiencing congested ports and backed-up orders.

Costs for actual parts are also going up, along with the labor costs associated with breakdowns and even regularly scheduled maintenance.

“The increases in costs for parts and labor reflect the changes taking place in the North American economy,” said Dick Hyatt, Decisiv president and CEO. “Ongoing economic growth has led to a rise in freight volume and demand for carrying capacity. That is also being driven higher by the need to replenish supply chains that have been depleted due to manufacturing and distribution shutdowns during the pandemic.”

Hyatt said increased transport demand pushed up vehicle mileage and usage.

The heavy parts, as well as the electrical parts, went up by doubles digits. Lighting systems increased 17.4% in Q2 from a year earlier, transmissions costs were up 16.4% in the same time frame, and brakes costs increased 11.1%.

Emily Hurst, manager of data and analytics at FleetNet, said fleets seeking to cut costs need to mimic the habits of the best-in-class fleets in the TL, LTL and tanker divisions.

Such habits could include reinforcement and better insulation put around electric wiring and lighting lines to prevent problems that put out lights.

The Decisiv/TMC North American Service Event Benchmark measures results in 7 million commercial vehicles operating in the United States and Canada, serviced by Decisiv’s SRM platform. The surveys on unscheduled maintenance and general costs were both released before TMC’s fall meeting.

About the Author



Doug Marcello The LEAD: Ignoring your data, fearing discovery in litigation, can be fatal to your company. The data is there. Plaintiffs will get it. You must proactively cumulate and analyze it to promote safety and proactively prepare to defend any potential suit....

Roadcheck is May 16 – Download the Inspection Guide

What can you expect duging any roadside inspectin - but especially during the annual Roadcheck blitz?  The inspectin guidelines are published and consistently used throughout North America. Download the guide here.

Preparing your drivers for deposition

Doug Marcello Your driver is to be deposed. They are to be thrust into a foreign world for which they have neither any experience nor concept. And out the other side of the process comes their “sworn testimony”, written in cement, as to the accident, training,...

Driver Survey Results

by David Hollis For the typical trucker who is in the driver's seat of their truck for most of their waking hours while on the road, having that seat be as comfortable as possible is a big deal. That's just one of the things we found out in our recent survey of what...

All 3G ELDs Do Not Comply with FMCSA Regs by 12/31/2022

Verizon is the last network to shut down their 3G network, the sunset date is December 31, 2022.  The other major networks shut down their 3G earlier this year. If you have an ELD system that relies on 3G to operate, it will no longer be compliant.  The carrier has 8...