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Fleet maintenance: How warranty repairs ruin the trucking industry and your budget

Reality check ahead
Here’s a huge fleet maintenance problem: Frequent and recurring diesel emission control system related repairs are excused by dealers because of truck manufacturer warranties. Instead of being motivated to find a solution, it has been easy for dealers to tell you that “it’s just the way things are,” and swap out a part under warranty. After all, the warranty doesn’t cost you anything, right?

If you think about it, most dealerships today are just glorified, expensive, parts changers. Not only has this warranty mentality led to a massive financial windfall for dealerships around the country, it has also crippled more than one trucking fleet and owner/independent due to ongoing repairs and excessive downtime.

The truth about diesel emission control system maintenance is that there are many early warning signs of pending failure. The warning signs tend to go unnoticed because of not knowing what to look for, or reliance on the wrong tools (OBD), which ultimately results in progressive damage and large-scale failure. What ends up happening is that the symptom of a problem gets repaired (DPF filters), while the underlying cause of the problem goes unnoticed.

You have experienced this if you have ever had to clean your DPF more than once a year, replaced multiple turbos, or have ongoing check engine lights.

The word HELP spelled with coins

Truck repairs under warranty still cost you money

Most financial statements track fleet maintenance repair costs, but few of them factor in repair-related downtime. And yet, downtime has a massive effect on the bottom line. If a truck is not running, it is not earning. Downtime is not just about the cost of a repair. It is about revenue that you should have had but missed out on. So, while a warranty repair may not have an “out-of-pocket” expense, it usually comes with a significant loss of income in the form of lost revenue.

Dealerships typically have at least a 2-day lead time to look at a truck, another day or two to “diagnose,” 2 to 3 days if they need to order the part, and at least one more day to install. Repairs can easily take up to 10 days. Even a simple DPF cleaning takes 2-3 days on average.

It is possible to reduce such downtime significantly if an engine is optimized correctly — even to the point where it may be more cost effective to pay for a new part instead of “warranty” it out at the dealership.

Consider, for example, a truck experiencing power loss and frequent regens. Without being able to maintain and troubleshoot an engine accurately, the technician will discover multiple emission control system related fault codes which require a dealer visit.

signs pointing to Option A or Option B

Diesel truck repair example

Consider, for example, a truck experiencing power loss and frequent regens. Without being able to maintain and troubleshoot an engine accurately, the technician will discover multiple emission control system related fault codes which require a dealer visit.

But when an engine is optimized properly, in-house emission control system diagnostics are possible, allowing the in-house technician to resolve the issue quickly and accurately, saving both time and money even without using the available warranty.

In this scenario, let’s put daily revenue per truck at a conservative $1,000 per day.

Outcome A:
Industry/Dealership Standard
Diagnosis Undiagnosed; mulitple fault codes
Parts Cost $0 (warranty)
Repair Labor Costs $0 (warranty)
Delivery/Pick-up to Dealership Cost 2 drivers @ $45/hour
1 hour each way
2 round trips
$360
Cost of Downtime $1,000 revenue/day
10 days
$10,000
TOTAL COST + DOWNTIME $10,360
NET GAIN/LOSS with revenue –$10,360
Outcome B:
With Advanced Diagnostics and Training
Diagnosis Failed VGT actuator
Parts Cost $725 (ordered direct)
Repair Labor Costs $45/hour in-house technician billable rate
1 hour: $45
Delivery/Pick-up to Dealership Cost $0
Cost of Downtime $1,000 revenue/day
10 days
$0
TOTAL COST + DOWNTIME $770
NET GAIN/LOSS with revenue +$9,230
There’s a $19,590 difference between these two outcomes. Now multiply that across your fleet over the lifetime of each truck.

To learn more about how proper diesel engine optimization can improve your fleet maintenance budget, contact InTu Mobility today.

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