All fleets need to maintain their vehicles to ensure safe and reliable performance, to avoid costly breakdowns and to allow vehicles to reach their maximum useful life. However, even a vehicle that is running safely and reliably may still enjoy substantial fuel economy savings from additional or more optimized maintenance.
Fuel savings of between 5-10% can be achieved.
Improve Vehicle Reliability and Reduced Breakdowns
Well‐maintained trucks are less likely to have on‐road breakdowns; unscheduled repairs are the costliest and result in more downtime.
Increased Resale Value
Anecdotal evidence shows that buyers of used equipment are willing to pay more for a vehicle when the seller has records that prove maintenance was done on an ongoing basis. There is evidence that a well‐maintained truck, for which maintenance records are available, will bring more money at resale.
Enhanced Driver Safety and Satisfaction
Well‐maintained trucks are safer to operate. Given the worsening driver shortage, anything that can be done to improve driver satisfaction is a bonus for fleets, and drivers vastly prefer to drive trucks that don’t break down or otherwise suffer from performance issues.
Reduced CSA Violations & Fines
The overwhelming majority of CSA violations are in the Maintenance BASIC category, so it stands to reason that better maintenance will lead to fewer violations.
Difficult to schedule maintenance service so it does not impact productivity.
Difficult to know which vehicles have had their scheduled maintenance service and which still need to come into the shop.
Demonstrating Return on Investment
It can be difficult to prove that a change in maintenance caused a gain in fuel economy.
What Fleets Are Saying
When asked how strong they felt the link between maintenance practices and fuel economy was, 75% of survey respondents said they saw a strong or very strong link between the two.
We do consider the fuel economy benefits of maintenance when making decisions to invest in a more aggressive maintenance program, whether software, personnel, tools or equipment.— A fleet manager
One fleet instituted a maintenance program that allows a truck to be diverted to a maintenance facility for evaluation if the vehicle’s MPGs decrease.
I believe there is a close correlation between maintenance and fuel economy, but my opinion may not be widely shared among my management peers.— A fleet manager
- Start by reviewing OEM and component supplier recommendations.
- Consider using the Recommended Practices developed by The Technology & Maintenance Council.
- Perform maintenance on an on-going basis and in a consistent manner.
- Invest in technology that allows you to schedule and track maintenance compliance.
The study team developed a tool to help fleets in making their decision about electronically controlled transmissions. The Confidence Matrix is used to inform fleets of the study team’s confidence in the technology being studied vs. the payback a fleet should expect to receive from the technology.
Conclusions & Recommendations
- Fleet view maintenance as important, but tend to look at it as a means for reducing downtime rather than improving fuel economy.
- There are a variety of sources available to obtain information about the maintenance needs of various components.
- There is strong evidence that properly maintained trucks will enjoy improved fuel economy.
- Including information about the increased fuel economy of well-maintained trucks can make the ROI of an investment in maintenance technology, tools, bay space, technicians or software easier to sell across all levels of fleet management.