Construction fleets report high maintenance costs

Managers of construction truck fleets reported the second highest per-mile maintenance expenses in an annual study published by the Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association.

In the report, “2005 Heavy Duty Truck Maintenance in the U.S.A.,” construction fleets racked up an average per-mile maintenance cost of 20 cents. Owner/operators, who reported an average of 25 cents per mile, were the only sector with higher expenses.

Construction fleet maintenance costs are high for a couple of reasons, said Frank Hampshire, HDMA director of research. “You’re driving in a dirty environment, and your engine is breathing a lot of dust and other contamination,” he said. “Plus, backing into the occasional boulder and things like that puts wear on the vehicle, and instead of getting into the truck and driving thousands of miles on highways and turnpikes, you’re driving start and stop at slow speeds.”

There isn’t much you can do to bring costs down, either.

“Most fleets are pretty well managed as far as we can tell,” Hampshire said. “This is just the cost of doing business in the industry.”

The HDMA study became annual in 2001. Before that, HDMA published it every five years, with the first study released in 1978. “As a trade association whose members are manufacturers of components and parts that are used to repair and manufacture trucks, we try to give our members background information so, for example, they understand why the heavy construction industry is important and what the industry’s costs are,” Hampshire said.