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Parts and service labor costs up by 1.9%, TMC/Decisiv report finds

Jan. 11, 2024
An analysis of VMRS codes indicated both parts and labor costs went back up in Q3 2023 after dropping the previous quarter.

The combined cost of parts and maintenance-related labor in the trucking sector rose 1.9% in Q3 of 2023, according to a report from American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council and Decisiv. The Decisiv/TMC North American Service Event Benchmark Report was generated using the top 25 Vehicle Maintenance Reporting System Level Codes. 18 of the 25 experienced price hikes in Q3 2023, and 22 were up year-over-year.

Data from Q2 2023 showed a 1.3% drop in parts and labor. It was the first time labor costs dropped in a year, giving a glimmer of hope for maintenance budgets. In 2022, parts and labor jumped 15% from the previous year.

These increases are not as severe, but the upward trend is cause for concern. Year over year, parts have increased by 0.9% and labor by 4.9%, which equals a 2.5% overall jump. The latest data indicated an equal 1.9% for both labor and parts. The VMRS methodology included a substantial share of trucking, with the 25 codes representing “97% of total parts and labor costs for more than seven million assets and over 300,000 monthly maintenance and repair events at more than 5,000 service locations,” TMC noted.

Read more: ATA reports parts and labor costs dropped in Q2 2023

Because of the freight recession—ATAs’ For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index last September was down 4.1% YOY—trucks are traveling fewer miles, meaning fleets should need to replace fewer parts and thus require less labor. Instead, overall inflation and the ongoing technician shortage drove costs up, suggested Decisiv President and CEO Dick Hyatt.

“Despite running fewer miles to handle lower freight volumes and the influx of less repair-intensive new trucks, fleets and service providers are still challenged by inflationary cost pressures on parts prices and higher labor costs,” Hyatt said. “The data in this report, however, enables everyone in the service supply chain to anticipate and focus on areas where cost control measures will prove most valuable.”

With no guarantee inflation will subside anytime soon (inflation rose 3% a year after the Inflation Reduction Act, noted House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-WA), TMC’s advice is to keep a close eye on costs in the shop.

“This return to increasing parts and labor costs highlights the fact that fleets must remain vigilant when it comes to managing their maintenance expense data,” said TMC Executive Director Robert Braswell. “This important parts and labor cost analysis report is an excellent tool to help Council members see how their operations are performing and plan accordingly.”


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