This probably will not come as a big surprise, but the cost of trucking was up 12.7% in 2021 from the previous year, according to the latest report from the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI). Fuel was a lot higher—35.4%. However, the cost of maintenance and repair also was up significantly—18.2%. Again, that is not surprising given that many fleets are now operating older trucks. In fact, survey respondents indicated that the average age of their tractors was 5.7 years old. That is the highest it’s been in more than a decade. The average of trucks in the industry overall rose to 14.2 years in 2018, according to HIS Markit. Given supply chain issues impacting delivery of new vehicles, it is likely that the number is even higher today.
Larger fleets had lower maintenance and repair costs than their smaller counterparts likely for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is their ability to negotiate better prices for parts.
While small and mid-sized fleets may not have the negotiating power of the larger fleets, that does not mean they cannot take steps to reduce their parts costs.
See also: Brand loyalty and the parts shortage
Ways smaller trucking fleets can reduce parts costs:
- Review your parts buying practices. Is there a way to concentrate their parts spend with fewer vendors to increase their purchasing power.
- Seek out smaller dealers and distributors who aren’t doing business with larger fleets so you will become the bigger fish in the smaller pond.
- Band together with other small to medium-size fleets and make parts purchases together thereby maximizing their buying power.
- Turn to online sources for heavy-duty truck and trailer parts. These sites may have greater parts availability and may offer better parts pricing as they are likely to have lower overhead costs.
While fleets have little to no control over parts availability, they can make some changes in the way they buy parts which can help them keep their maintenance and repair costs down.
David Seewack is the founder and CEO of FinditParts. Seewack is focused on transforming how heavy-duty truck and trailer parts are bought and sold. Founded in 2010, FinditParts is the No. 1 supplier of these parts online, with more than 10 million SKUs available from more than 1,800 manufacturers and customers in over 210 countries.
This blog originally appeared on FleetOwner.com.