Starters: Replace or repair?

GVW is determining factor in making this equipment decision.Component failure and its associated costs are serious concerns for many fleets. And knowing whether it's more cost-effective to replace or repair a failed unit can have a significant impact on the bottom line. Of course, this decision will depend on a number of factors, including the specific component involved and the type of equipment

GVW is determining factor in making this equipment decision.

Component failure and its associated costs are serious concerns for many fleets. And knowing whether it's more cost-effective to replace or repair a failed unit can have a significant impact on the bottom line. Of course, this decision will depend on a number of factors, including the specific component involved and the type of equipment it's being used on. This month we'll focus on starters.

According to FLEET OWNER's Aftermarket Monitor, most fleets will replace failed starter units with new, remanufactured, or locally rebuilt assemblies rather than repair them. Although replacing failed units is more costly, the expense is more than offset by the reduction in downtime associated with replacement over repair.

However, a vehicle's gross vehicle weight (GVW) does play a role in this decision. Since revenue per truck increases with GVW, fleets running heavy-duty vehicles are more likely to replace failed starters than are other fleets. When heavier equipment is down, more revenue is lost relative to lighter equipment, making downtime more expensive.

In addition, fleets have more choices when it comes to buying new starters for larger vehicles. The larger the vehicle, the greater the number of OEM remanufactured and new assemblies to choose from. At the same time, as GVW increases, the choice of local rebuilds and used assemblies decreases.

Midrange and medium-duty fleets are more likely to choose a locally rebuilt assembly than a new one (49.4% and 41.9%, respectively). The operating requirements for these vehicles differ from heavy-duty equipment since they operate locally and/or regionally rather than on-highway. And because they're domiciled at one location, vehicles can be inspected more regularly, which also decreases repair and downtime.

Heavy-duty fleets are least likely to choose used assemblies since they are more likely to fail prematurely. With vehicle mileage for these fleets averaging 64,700 mi./year, their parts must be dependable. Heavy-duty fleets choose new assemblies, considered the most reliable, about 33.9% of the time. They choose OEM remanufactured assemblies about 31.7% of the time because these parts are considered durable products that will increase uptime and revenues.

In addition to GVW groupings, preferences for new units over locally rebuilt or OEM remanufactured units are influenced by the condition of the vehicle, i.e., whether it's new or used. Owners of new heavy-duty trucks are more likely to purchase new units because replacement is covered by warranty. Owners of used heavy-duty equipment, on the other hand, are more likely to replace failed starters with units that are locally rebuilt.

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: Vic Woolery, Woolery U.S. Trans., Cottonwood, Calif.; Jason D. Faubel, Silver State Materials, Las Vegas, Nev.; and Marlin Wengerd, Berlin Transportation, Millersburg, Ohio.

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