Across the board, fleets prefer in-house replacement
When it comes to replacing fuel filters, fleets don't stray far from home. In fact, they prefer their own shops to any other source, according to data from FLEET OWNER's Aftermarket Monitor. Gross vehicle weight (GVW) does play a role in this choice, however. Midrange fleets prefer their own shops 58.4% of the time, medium-duty fleets 69.4%, and heavy-duty fleets 61.5%.
Since revenue per truck - and thus downtime - generally increases with GVW, fleets that operate medium- or heavy-duty equipment are more likely to invest in the equipment and people needed to replace fuel filters in-house than are fleets operating midrange equipment. In addition, medium- and heavy-duty fleets are usually larger than midrange fleets, enabling them to more easily offset the cost of in-house maintenance shops. The bottom line is that investment in personnel and equipment is more profitable when it's spread across a greater number of vehicles.
The preference for truck dealers as a replacement source also increases with GVW. Heavy-duty fleets are more likely to choose truck dealers as a replacement source (13.8%) than are medium-duty (13.5%) and midrange (10.3%) fleets. Since these linehaul fleets generally have average lengths of haul greater than 200 miles and operate away from where they're domiciled, they have a greater need for the national parts coverage dealers can provide.
Midrange fleets prefer independent garages (11%) to dealers (10.3%) as a fuel-filter replacement source. The average lengths of haul for these operations are less than 200 miles, so they're more likely to form relationships with local replacement sources such as independent garages. Also, since midrange fleets usually return to the fleet base every night, they don't need national coverage for services and parts.
When we compare fleets comprised of new equipment to those with mainly used equipment, we see that the latter are more likely to choose independent garages as replacement sources for fuel filters. For the most part, warranty periods for used equipment have already expired. In addition, owners of used trucks don't always have established relationships with dealers since the vehicles may have been purchased somewhere else.
Having said this, however, we should point out that the number of used truck dealers offering extended warranties to used truck buyers is increasing. This will no doubt influence the source for aftermarket repairs in the future.
The Aftermarket Monitor divides components into 15 major groups and sends out more than 4,000 questionnaires each month to commercial vehicle operators. Parts categories covered are diesel engines; gas engines; electrical and lights; air brakes, wheel seals and bearings; hydraulic brakes, wheel seals and bearings; manual transmissions and clutches; automatic transmissions; drive axles, universal joints and drivelines, and PTO drives; exhaust components and engine cooling systems; front suspension and shock absorbers; rear suspensions and springs; engine oil and filtration systems; tires; electronics; wheels and fifth wheels; seats, mirrors, tanks, and leak detection equipment; and paint.
For more information on FLEET OWNER's Aftermarket Monitor, call Chris Brady at Martin Labbe Assoc., 904-672-4413.
The following individuals recently received prizes for participating in last month's survey: Arthur Clesen, Arthur Clesen Inc., Wheeling, Ill.; Dell Kuntz, Laidlaw Transit Ltd., Ogden, Utah; and Jack Sauerwein, Norbourne Feed Co., Upper Marlboro, Md.