Hidden Cost Drivers: Long-Term Risks of Extending PM Intervals Far Outweigh Short-Term Gains

In today’s economic environment, fleet managers are often challenged to streamline operations in the face of diminishing resources and more than ever are being asked to do more with less. Tighter budgets combined with increasing operational demands means fleet managers face unrelenting pressure to identify cost savings opportunities while simultaneously increasing efficiencies – a difficult task for even the most seasoned fleet manager.

The burden to get ahead of the cost curve often creates a situation where companies stray from proven best practices in favor of solutions that offer short-term benefits. However, the long-term risks typically far exceed the perceived gains. This is especially true when fleets consider extending preventive maintenance intervals. Failure to adhere to recommended preventive maintenance schedules is one of the top hidden cost drivers that can significantly impact your fleet and your budget.

For a typical fleet, tires, brakes and preventive maintenance are among the highest spend categories and some companies may opt to extend service intervals as a way to reduce operating costs. While this approach may initially generate some cost savings, more often than not, vehicles with extended service intervals will incur significantly higher repair costs over time.

ARI’s Strategic Consulting group recently completed an analysis that compared the maintenance costs of vehicles serviced every 5,000 miles against those with extended service intervals. The results of this comprehensive analysis show a consistent trend in favor of units with on-schedule preventive maintenance. All told, the study indicates that units with late PM services incur monthly costs that are 47 percent higher than units with on-time services.

The data also shows that fleets with extended service intervals experience:

  • An increase in brake repair costs because more vehicles require rotors and calipers since brake pads are not checked as frequently
  • A higher than average tire spend due to longer periods of time between rotations and air pressure checks (also affecting fuel efficiency)
  • A greater number of premature engine and powertrain failures

While extending service intervals may seem like a quick and easy way to control operating costs, the data clearly indicates it will always cost less to address repairs early. A much more effective strategy is to use technology and advanced data analytics to gain a holistic view of your fleet operations to quickly identify maintenance trends. This information empowers you to see what’s happening across your fleet today and proactively address what is likely to happen tomorrow to help prevent significant issues before they occur.

Extending preventive maintenance schedules are just one hidden cost driver impacting fleets. Download our free white paper, Cost Certainty, Cost Escalation & Cost Reduction, to learn how these hidden cost drivers affect other facets of fleet operations.