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Fleet Maintenance Matters: How Fast Are Your Trucks Aging? Brian Dziuk | Jul 6, 2016 9:52:33 AM

Semi-trucks have an incredibly high useful life in terms of total mileage, assuming they're properly cared for.Semi-trucks are an invaluable tool for transporting goods over long distances. According to statistics cited by popularmechanics.com, “Sixty-eight percent of all goods in the U.S. are delivered by semi truck. That works out to about 60,000 pounds per American per year.”

To deliver all of these goods, trucks travel massive distances. As noted in the Popular Mechanics article, “each year a single semi will average 45,000 miles, yet the estimates from the trucking industry and the Federal Highway Administration are closer to 100,000 miles for long-distance trucks.”

Because semi-trucks are a business investment for transportation companies, and an expensive one at that, it’s important for companies to optimize fleet maintenance and get as much useful life out of each truck in their fleet as possible.

Tracking how quickly a semi truck "ages" is a useful way to optimize maintenance schedules for your fleet. 

The Lifespan of a Truck

Semi-trucks are long-lived, hard-use vehicles, and are often built with the durability to match. It isn’t uncommon to see trucks in service that have 1million miles or more on the odometer, which must seem like a lot compared to the average lifespan of a typical passenger car.

There are a few reasons for this:

  1. Commercial semis are built to be much more robust than cars, with larger, more durable parts.
  2. Semis have stricter maintenance requirements, and are serviced more frequently.
  3. Trucks are a business investment, making them a longer-term asset than a personal car.

However, it’s important to remember that the average semi will travel between 45,000 to 100,000 miles each year, as noted by the statistics from Popular Mechanics. With such a high mileage, a truck can burn through the useful life of its components in an amazingly short time frame.

So, if you’re trying to measure useful life of a truck by timespan rather than by total distance traveled, a top-of-the-line rig might last as long as a decade. The length of time a truck remains useful can be impacted by many factors beyond total distance traveled, however.

Factors such as frequency of maintenance, thoroughness of maintenance, use conditions, quality of fuel used, weight of cargo loads, size of attached trailers, frequency of use in stop-and-go traffic, idle time, outdoor temperatures, driver behaviors, and roughness of terrain can all contribute to how quickly a semi-truck ages.

Tracking How Quickly Your Trucks Age

Given the sheer number of variables that impact how a truck “ages” can make using total distance traveled less than perfect as a sole means for monitoring how much useful life the truck has remaining. Total mileage is still an important piece of data to track; it just shouldn’t be the only thing you track.

To monitor just how quickly a rig is aging, it’s important to have tools that provide:

  • access to detailed remote diagnostics that track key engine performance data;
  • driver behavior monitoring; and
  • total distance traveled between maintenance stops.

With this information, you can see how much stress a driver’s good or bad habits are placing on a vehicle, how well the engine is performing, and whether or not a truck is behind schedule for maintenance.

The engine performance data, in particular, can be useful for spotting when a truck needs preventative maintenance.

GPS tracking devices, when integrated with your fleet vehicles, can provide all of the above information. This helps you track how fast your trucks are aging and enact preventative maintenance that keeps your company’s business investment running for longer.

Learn how truck GPS tracking can improve fleet maintenance for semis and other commercial vehicles by checking out some of our other resources!

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