Repair costs climbing, but so is mileage between repairs

Parts, labor and overall repair costs are soaring for truck fleets, but an increased emphasis on preventive maintenance is stretching out mileage between breakdowns.

Those were some key findings from a pair of benchmarking reports conducted by the Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) of the American Trucking Associations, and its data collection partners Decisiv and FleetNet America.

Mark Wasilko, vice-president of marketing with service management platform Decisiv, says his company records about a million service events per quarter. Using VMRS codes, it identifies trends related to repair costs.

In the fourth quarter of 2021, average parts costs increased 2.72%, labor 3.71%, and parts and labor combined rose 3.71%.

More shocking are year-over-year comparisons, with labor costs up 14.26%, parts up 8.77%, and parts and labor combined up 10.81% compared to the fourth quarter in 2020.

“That’s an ugly trend,” said Wasilko during a TMC press conference. By VMRS code, the most expensive repair costs were related to powerplant (36.8%), exhaust systems (14.9%), and brakes (5%).

truck towed
(Photo: istock)

In a separate benchmarking report conducted by FleetNet America, which looks at average repair costs and mileage between repairs, Paul Gildenhorn, FleetNet’s vice-president of sales, noted some interesting trends.

Strangely, total fleet miles decreased in the fourth quarter of 2021 compared to the previous quarter. He attributed this to supply chain shortages that pulled peak holiday shipping season forward.

But the study also noted a sharp increase in miles between breakdowns in the fourth quarter – 42,559, marking the longest stretch seen in two years. Gildenhorn says this could be because of an increased emphasis on preventive maintenance being forced on fleets who are having to run equipment longer due to supply chain shortages that have made procuring new trucks difficult.

“Fleets are having to spend more time paying closer attention to their PM programs than ever before,” said Gildenhorn. “They’ve had to make that equipment last.”

FleetNet also uses VMRS codes to categorize breakdowns. It found the top five codes represented 67% of total repairs: tires, brakes, powerplant, cranking system, and exhaust systems. The complete reports are available through TMC.

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James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 20 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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  • From 1966 to 2015 I drove and owned trucks with a Cummins PT fuel system I consider myself lucky

  • This not what we are seeing many issues with new trucks in the shop more often and for longer periods of time. I got this from drivers and owners ops at the protests and from some repair shops. I could be wrong?

  • I have a 2021 389 peterbilt with a X15 565 hp , an cylinder misfire early in the game, quickly fixed by a free tune up and the next check engine light was a NOX sensor at 500000ish km also quickly repaired because of the rapid check program at edmonton peterbilt.