Controlling Maintenance Costs with Telematics Data
By Julie Leicester
June 30, 2022
Maintenance is one of the largest variable expenses contributing to the total cost of ownership (TCO) of a vehicle. And maintenance costs are on the rise, up by 3.7% in the fourth quarter of 2021 and almost 10% from the previous year.1 According to GEP, a supply chain consultancy, preventative maintenance costs are also increasing due to extended service lives, adoption of expensive synthetic oils and rising labor rates.2 So, for fleet managers, controlling maintenance costs is more important than ever. One way fleets are evolving and improving maintenance management is through the integration of telematics data.
Real Time Mileage Tracking
By routinely performing preventive maintenance on your vehicles, you avoid the costlier repairs that can be incurred with more serious vehicle breakdowns such as transmission or battery failure. You can also minimize the accident and depreciation components of your TCO. Most maintenance schedules are mileage based. For example, Ford recommends changing the oil on a Focus every 7,500 miles. Historically, a fleet manager was reliant on the mileage data drivers record when fueling. With telematics, a fleet manager can see the actual mileage on a vehicle at any time. Using the real time mileage data, fleet managers can send communications to drivers as they approach, meet and surpass maintenance parameters.
Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs)
A Check Engine light on the dashboard or in the driver communication center is an indication that the vehicle needs service or repair. When a Check Engine light comes on, a technician can connect to the On-Board Diagnostic port to read any available Diagnostic Trouble Codes or DTCs. Technicians use these codes to diagnose and repair vehicle issues. They do not tell you specifically what is wrong with the vehicle, but they do give an indication. It is important for drivers to take their cars in for service when there is a Check Engine or other warning light on. Some drivers will procrastinate or ignore the warning light or assume the next driver will get it fixed and these delays in getting the proper service performed can lead to additional operating and repair cost and possible drive-train damage. Telematics devices read the Diagnostic Trouble Codes and report on them so fleet managers can take action and communicate with those drivers who have vehicles with DTCs to make sure they are taking the vehicle in for service.
Assuring that drivers keep up with scheduled maintenance stops problems before they happen and saves money. When you follow vehicle maintenance schedules, you reduce the likelihood that the vehicle will encounter breakdowns and the resulting driver downtime. Repairs and accidents are costly. By keeping up with preventive maintenance, you minimize the maintenance, accident, and depreciation components of your TCO. Telematics provides real time data to help fleet managers keep their fleets in compliance.
Contact us for more information on using telematics to control your maintenance costs.