Truck Review Features

Truck Maintenance 101: Keeping your vehicle in tip-top shape

One of the most important things to know when purchasing a Class 8 vehicle is that the initial price is just a fraction of the total cost of ownership. Repairs and maintenance are a major expense of doing business for any fleet. According to Fullbay, a database of heavy duty repair shop software, even the best-built trucks on the market will experience issues at some point. 

In order to keep your vehicle in the best shape, you need to stay on top of repairs. This means being financially equipped to pay for the inevitable incidents such as worn-out brakes and/or tires, and failing engines. According to a study on carriers’ equipment-related costs,  American Transport Research Institute (ATRI) found that repair and maintenance costs per mile have increased by more than 60 percent to 16.7 cents per mile between 2008 and 2017.

Fullbay Software broke down the top 10 maintenance and repair costs in order of largest to smallest percentage as follows:

  1. Tires and related parts (ie. liners, valves and tubes) – 43 percent
  2. Preventive maintenance – 12 percent
  3. Brakes and related systems – 9 percent
  4. Disposable parts – 8 percent
  5. Exhaust structure – 6 percent
  6. Fuel system – 6 percent
  7. Lighting – 5 percent
  8. Cranking or starting system – 5 percent
  9. Power plant – 3 percent
  10. Motor and engine – 3 percent

Although each number looks relatively small, the costs add up. “It’s not a matter of which maintenance and repair problems will occur but when,” reported Fullbay. Regular maintenance, as stated by, adds up to roughly $15,000 each year and could cost even more if the driver is not proactive about repairs. 

It is incredibly important to be saving money for consistent repairs or maintenance. It’s not a matter of if your vehicle will need a repair, but when

Jeff Rogers, director of maintenance for the east region for Ryder System, Inc. (NYSE: R), stated that the number one maintenance mistake a driver or operator can make is ignoring the check engine or exhaust lights. There are hundreds of sensors on today’s vehicles, according to Rogers, and they each provide a specific function. “Many breakdowns can be avoided by simply paying attention to your truck and the warning lights. It’s as simple as that,” said Rogers. 

Tires and brakes are the most common wear items on Class 8 vehicles, according to Rogers. Because of this, Roger’s first piece of advice for anyone operating a heavy-duty vehicle is to carry a calibrated tire pressure gauge in the vehicle. 

“Kicking a tire with your foot is no way to tell if it’s low on air or not. Just buy yourself a calibrated tire pressure gauge. I promise it’s worth it,” recommended Rogers. 

One incredibly important piece that is often overlooked when it comes to maintenance, according to Rogers, is the diesel particulate filter (DPF). This device removes particulate matter or soot, to prevent its release into the atmosphere. 

Rogers explained that although a filter can take a year or two to fill, once it gets plugged, the truck will simply no longer run. As the most commonly overlooked or procrastinated maintenance check, Rogers said that it is essential that the filter is checked at least once a year, because this is “a big issue today with trucks.”

Some maintenance experts recommend keeping shorter life cycles for heavy-duty trucks, according to Fullbay. It is estimated that buying or leasing a new truck every three years could save over $17,000 in maintenance costs as compared to buying or leasing a new truck after five years or more. A white paper from Fleet Advantage stated that the longer you keep your truck, the more it will cost you in maintenance and repairs. 

Although maintenance for a heavy-duty vehicle comes with a high price tag, most experts recommend participating in a preventive maintenance program. Many maintenance companies, like Ryder, provide a scheduling system for monthly, seasonal and annual safety and maintenance inspections.

“Everyone wants their fleet to be the safest fleet in the country and the only way to do that is by keeping their vehicles in tip-top shape by staying on top of maintenance,” said Rogers. 

The FREIGHTWAVES TOP 500 For-Hire Carriers list includes Ryder System (No. 22).


  1. You made an interesting point when you explained that that brakes and tires are the things that get worn out the most when driving a heavy truck. I have a cousin that is interested in driving a semi-truck. It would probably be a good idea for him to find a mechanic that knows how to work on heavy vehicles.

  2. It was really helpful when you said that you have to stay on top of repairs! My husband runs a trucking business, and he was telling me last night about how some of his trucks were having issues with their brakes. I’ll make sure to pass this information along to him so he can look into taking those trucks in to get repaired soon.

  3. It makes sense that if you have repairs covered, your vehicle will be in the best shape. My cousin often works with trucks and drivers, especially for the last three years. We’ll have to look into truck repairs that need to be made.

  4. You’re right about mentioning that my husband has to be financially equipped if he plans to own a truck. I think there might be a service that can give him spare parts for a good deal if he becomes a trucker. He told me that he plans to get a commercial driver’s license in the future, so that might be something he could take advantage of.

  5. You made a great point about buying a calibrated tire pressure gauge in order to maintain tire pressure. If I were to own a commercial vehicle, I would want to do frequent checks to make sure everything is working smoothly. I will be sure to use this guide when looking for problems and evaluating when to call a professional repair company.

  6. It’s interesting to know that you need to give preventive maintenance to your truck to keep it in good shape. My husband is thinking about buying two trucks for his company, and we are looking for advice. I will let him know about your recommendations to give his trucks maintenance.


  8. Bonjour
    Je m’appelle Amadou Aliou Sane je suis sénégalais et je vie actuellement au Sénégal je cherche du travail comme chauffeur tout catégorique j’ai un permis de conduite transport en commun .