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Labor and parts costs driving truck maintenance bills higher

Aging fleets contribute to increases amid supply chain crisis

Truck maintenance costs grew by double digits last year as technician pay grew. (Photo: Volvo Trucks)

Truck maintenance costs 10% more than a year ago, owing to the higher wages for service technicians and the aging of equipment because of the supply chain crisis.

A service event benchmark study released during the American Trucking Associations’ Technology and Maintenance Council meeting in Orlando, Florida, found:

  • Maintenance costs rose 3.7% in Q4 and more than 10% from the previous year.
  • The average cost of parts and labor for vehicle repairs rose 3.7% in Q4 due primarily to increasing labor costs.
  • From Q3 to Q4, labor costs increased 5.4%, while parts cost rose 2.7%. Compared to a year ago, combined parts and labor costs rose 10.8%. 
  • Year over year, labor costs spiked 14.2%, while parts cost jumped 8.8% from the fourth quarter of 2020 to the same three months of 2021.

“The North American economy continues to impact parts and labor costs for fleets in several ways,” said Dick Hyatt, Decisiv president and CEO. Decisiv has the industry’s largest asset service management system.

Big hitters

Powertrain expenses topped all areas of spending at 36.8%, followed by exhaust systems at 14.9%. Brakes accounted for 5% of costs.

The brake expense may reflect increased miles driven as fleets are keeping trucks on the road beyond typical 4-to-5-year trade-in cycles because of the lack of availability of new trucks due to the semiconductor shortage and other component scarcity. Engine and exhaust repairs could be increasing as warranty coverages expire with higher miles on the odometer.

Higher labor costs result from  both additional repairs to higher-mileage vehicles and the fierce competition in the labor market to attract and retain service technicians.


The Decisiv/TMC North American Service Event Benchmark reports are generated using data from the Decisiv SRM platform on service and repairs for more than 7 million commercial assets in the U.S. and Canada. The asset service management system manages a weekly average of 70,000 service events at nearly 5,000 locations.

Separately, a state of heavy-duty repair report issued by Fullbay found:

  • 82% of repair shops faced some disruptions due to supply chain-induced parts shortages, including 14% of shops that experienced severe disruptions.
  • 64% of shops found it either “much” or “slightly” more difficult to hire technicians, even while 73% of them increased hourly wages.
  • 83% of shops had $2 million or less in revenue, with 19% experiencing revenue growth during 2021.

The data in the report is based on survey responses from more than 900 individuals across all aspects of the commercial freight, logistics and repair industries. 

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Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

Alan Adler

Alan Adler is an award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press and the Detroit Free Press. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.
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