Fleet Car Maintenance Costs Increase 7 Percent in 2012-CY
Although costs have increased, many fleets continued to cycle vehicles early to take advantage of still favorable resale market conditions. This strategy has reduced average vehicle age and helped minimize maintenance expenses.
Passenger car maintenance fees are expected to rise slightly in 2013.
At a Glance
- Monthly preventive maintenance (PM) expenses rose 4 percent per vehicle during calendar-year 2012.
- The average replacement tire cost per month rose 15 percent, and, on a cost-per-mile basis, rose 10 percent in 2012 compared to 2011.
- Vehicle quality, from all OEMs, has been steadily improving, which has had an ongoing positive impact on fleet maintenance expenses.
- The forecast is for overall passenger car maintenance expenses to rise slightly in 2013.
Even though the first-of-the-year market activity and values have taken a slightly different turn than normally expected, there are plenty of reasons to feel good about 2013.
You can click any of the photos in this article to view all of the charts associated with this article.
Passenger car maintenance costs, per car per month, rose 7 percent for commercial fleets during the 2012-calendar year compared to those in 2011, according to an annual fleet maintenance survey conducted by GE Capital Fleet Services for Automotive Fleet magazine.
“Although passenger car maintenance costs per car per month rose 7 percent from 2011, overall costs are down 1.5 percent from 2010,” said Chad Christensen, strategic consultant for GE Capital Fleet Services. “Many fleets continued to cycle vehicles early, taking advantage of still favorable resale market conditions. This has decreased the average vehicle age and helped reduce maintenance expenses.”
One interesting finding was that the average unscheduled repair cost per vehicle, per month, and per mile remained flat in 2012 as the younger fleet age helped offset rising parts and labor costs. The study showed a slight increase in labor rates in 2012 and Christensen anticipates a similar increase in 2013.
“This was reflected in the Consumer Price Index for motor vehicle maintenance repairs, which rose 1.1 percent in 2012,” Christensen said.
This year’s survey is the 18th annual fleet passenger car maintenance study conducted by GE Capital Fleet Services for Automotive Fleet. This year’s study is based on actual maintenance expenses incurred by 32,144 passenger cars for calendar-year 2012. The passenger car maintenance costs tracked by GE included unscheduled repair services, preventive maintenance, and replacement tires.
The above charts represent the average total maintenance spend per unit, in dollars per month, and cents per mile. Total maintenance costs include: tires, maintenance repairs (unscheduled services, such as brakes, suspension, engine, transmission, electrical, and other service), and preventive maintenance for passenger cars. It does not include fuel. Chart courtesy GE Capital Fleet Services.
PM Expenses Increased 4%
Monthly preventive maintenance (PM) expenses rose 4 percent per vehicle in calendar-year 2012, according to GE Capital Fleet Services, while the average oil change service fee increased significantly — from $34 to $39.
“This can be attributed to the younger vehicle portfolio and more vehicles using the new, more expensive engine motor oils,” Christensen said. “The new motor oils improve fuel efficiency and enhance engine protection, but cost more per oil change compared to conventional oils.”
The GE maintenance study also revealed that fleets are seeing fewer oil changes performed as the frequency between oil changes increased again in 2012 from 3.6 months to 3.7 months and from 7,752 miles to 8,850 miles. “Fortunately, the overall preventive maintenance impact on a cost-per-mile basis was flat in 2012 compared to 2011 and 2010,” Christensen said.
The new motor oil requirements was one of the key maintenance challenges in 2012, which has added to the complexity of selecting the appropriate oil for a specific vehicle make, model, and engine. “The repair facility should recommend the appropriate motor oil for that vehicle based on information provided through online industry tools and owner’s manuals,” said Eric Strom, product manager for GE Capital Fleet Services.
A key factor contributing to relative stability in overall passenger car maintenance expenses is that during the 2012-CY, most OEMs did not make any significant changes to their scheduled maintenance programs that would have impacted maintenance expenses.
“Several OEMs have introduced commercial fleet programs for free oil changes and rotations or routine maintenance for the first two years. However, this is not expected to considerably impact fleet costs,” Strom said.
Oil change intervals are predicted to be extended and the individual cost per oil change will increase, but the cost per mile should remain steady. Chart courtesy GE Capital Fleet Services.