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To Repair or to Replace: When Commercial Vehicles Break Down


To Repair or to Replace: When Commercial Vehicles Break Down


Truck1-Blog -PostA truck in your fleet has started billowing more black smoke than usual, or the lifting arm on your excavator just doesn’t lift like it used to. The time has come to make a decision: Do you spend time and resources attempting to fix your existing equipment, or do you scrap the damaged goods and spend the cash for something shiny and new?

Your business depends on your vehicles, so having a reliably functioning fleet is absolutely imperative. Repairing and replacing are both expensive and exhausting activities, but each has its own advantages in certain situations. Knowing what action to take when will help you save time and money, keeping your business booming. Hopefully, this guide will help you determine whether it is worthwhile to repair or to replace your broken-down vehicle.

Typical Maintenance and Repair Expenses

Just like personal vehicles, commercial trucks need regular checkups to remain operational. A truck contains millions of moving parts that are integral to the function of the machine, and by following a strict maintenance schedule, you can reduce the likelihood of a catastrophic failure that prevents you from transporting goods and making money.

Tire maintenance is one of the most grueling expenses, in terms of both time and money. Tires easily see the most wear, and as a result, most truckers find that 3 percent of their vehicle’s expenses are devoted to maintaining the rubber on the road. On average, a single commercial tire costs about $250 ? which means the cost of new tires for all 18 wheels totals more than $4,500. Regular tire retreading can cut that number in half, but it is still a significant annual expense.

Some estimates suggest that repair and maintenance costs for a single truck can exceed $15,000 per year. This is because commercial vehicles require special skills and parts that not every mechanic has. As a result, labor fees for commercial trucks are high; shop time with such specialized mechanics usually costs well over $100 per hour, making routine maintenance tasks, like changing filters, a thousand-dollar ordeal.

With any luck ? and with religious adherence to your maintenance schedule ? your truck won’t have any serious repairs for a few years. However, any machine that sees as much use as a big rig will definitely need some patching up eventually.

Ways to Cut Costs

Ways to Cut Costs

There are a number of products available that help trucks remain in good condition longer. For example, diesel exhaust fluid Peak BlueDEF helps convert engine waste into harmless nitrogen and water, reducing gunk build-up as well as harmful emissions. During especially cold months, weatherizing trucks with appropriate equipment, like snow tires or chains, and chemical fluids will prevent unnecessarily dangerous conditions during the winter. Even hot months require extra care, as the bright sun can desiccate the outside and inside of big rigs, demanding expensive repairs. In the summertime, you should be prepared with custom window shades.

Perhaps most importantly, the way you drive can influence how much you spend on maintenance and repairs. Here are some unknown ways to treat your truck better and increase its lifespan:

  • Allow the engine to warm up without revving for about 10 minutes.
  • Avoid idling, which reduces a trip’s miles per gallon by one-third and wears engines twice as fast as normal use.
  • Drive at the most fuel-efficient speed for your vehicle, which is usually around 65 miles per hour, and in wet conditions, reduce your speed by one-third.

Replacement Value

Many truck owners decide it is time to replace their rigs when the cost of a single repair exceeds the value of their vehicle, but in truth, this is not the optimal way to replace a commercial truck. An old, completely worn-out truck has depreciated to the point of worthlessness, and you will earn nothing from reselling it or trading it in.

The best course of action is to perform an economic lifecycle analysis to determine when you will have attained the optimum value from your purchase. The calculations for this analysis are quite complex, and require data such as vehicle purchase cost, past maintenance and repair expenses, fuel expenses, downtime costs, depreciation expenses, and salvage values. Fortunately, there are a few online tools to help you understand the best time to replace.

By being smart and safe with maintenance and repairs, you can extend your commercial vehicle’s life ? but not indefinitely. Eventually, every truck needs to be replaced, but replacing too soon or too late will cost you. Before your big rig starts smoking again, you should consult your costs to determine whether now is the time to replace ? or whether you can get away with another few repairs.

© 2016, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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By: Allen Smith

Allen Smith is a 37 year veteran who started at an early age in a household goods family moving business. He began driving straight trucks in 1977 and moved to the big rigs in 1982. His experience within the industry includes; owner operator, company driver, operations manager, and owner of a long distance HHG moving business, taking many of the long haul moves himself when needed. Allen Smith, a truck driver advocate who is driven by the desire to help others succeed within an industry where injustice, unrewarded sacrifice, and lack of respect and recognition exists. Allen and his wife Donna are hosts of Truth About Trucking ”Live” on Blog Talk Radio. Other websites include AskTheTrucker, TruckingSocialMedia, NorthAmericanTruckingALerts, TruthAboutTrucking, and many Social Media websites. In 2011 Allen and Donna hosted the first Truck Driver Social Media Convention, designed to create unity and solutions for the trucking industry. This is now being extended through the North American Trucking Alerts network as those within the industry join forces for the betterment of the industry. Allen strongly supports other industry advocates who are also stepping up to the plate to help those who share honesty, guidance and direction. He believes that all those involved in trucking need to be accountable for their part within the industry, including drivers, carriers, brokers, shippers, receivers, etc… The list of supporters and likeminded people grow daily, networking together and sharing thoughts and ideas for the betterment of trucking. He has coined the popular phrase "Raising the standards of the trucking industry"

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One Response to To Repair or to Replace: When Commercial Vehicles Break Down. - Post a Comment

  1. James Karalis

    I own and drive a 1998 century freightliner I have had it for over 13 years , I payed $25.000.00 for it and well keep running it until I can’t drive any more the biggest plus is I well not have to run E-logs , it is cheap to fix , pre EGR , 60 series , gets good fuel mileage , and don’t brake down like the newer trucks !

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