How to Safely Extend the Lifecycle of Older Fleet Vehicles

posted 16 July, 2021 by Jackson Balling
The role of a fleet manager isn’t an easy one to master. If you’ve been in the field for a while, then you know how demanding it can be to manage a large fleet of vehicles, let alone a team of drivers and mechanics. It’s a job that requires a logistical and well-organized individual to succeed on a typical day. And as the average fleet manager would tell you, the many months since March 2020 have been far from ordinary.
As fleets of all sizes work around the aftershocks of a global pandemic, the associated recession, and the various hurdles that still linger, one common challenge is safely extending the lifecycle of older vehicles. 
If you’re trying to keep long-running cars on the road for the foreseeable future, it’s essential to ensure that your fleet maintenance strategy takes the older models into account.

Why are Fleets Relying on Older Vehicles?

The primary reason fleet managers have to consider keeping older vehicles around stems from the ongoing post-pandemic shockwaves
Some fleets were forced to downsize, from large-scale traditional companies to smaller businesses with 10 to 50 vehicles. Plus, the semiconductor shortage has continued to disrupt the automotive industry, which relies heavily on processor chips for new models. 
All of this comes together to impact fleets, most notably car rental companies, as they look to de-fleet older models in a market with no affordable new replacements. With no bulk replacements in sight for the immediate future, fleets are forced to take a more focused approach to preventative maintenance.
Aside from increased diligence with fleet maintenance, there’s a more significant logistical challenge as well: managing the mileage for older vehicles. Some cars in your fleet may have close to 100,000 miles or more, bringing more risk of breaking down if not properly maintained. If you’re unable to get new vehicles into your fleet to minimize the need for older models, then you may be able to shift the high-mileage models to short-term rental bookings.
Your process may vary, depending on your commitment to utilization analytics. While it’s not easy to micromanage each vehicle’s usage, it’s a helpful strategy to lessen the financial impact of sudden maintenance, which may keep one or more cars off the road entirely.

Managing Your Fleet’s Lifecycle with Data and Telematics

When you’re considering new maintenance tactics to keep older fleet vehicles on the road safely, the top challenge that comes to mind is higher maintenance and repair costs. Fortunately, you can minimize those concerns with an investment in telematics.
Bringing a data-driven approach to your fleet’s management may seem intimidating if it’s new to you. However, it’s been proven to be a reliable method for tracking any vehicle’s lifecycle costs, such as fuel consumption, insurance, routine maintenance, and any part replacements. Rather than staying up-to-date on your time, a quality telematics solution can integrate your existing systems to unify all relevant information for each vehicle into a convenient location.
One of the most considerable impacts of telematics is the transparency it offers when measuring your fleet’s maintenance needs. By tracking hours-of-use and maintenance schedules, you can avoid expensive services by staying up to date on each vehicle’s current condition. When it’s time to address any urgent maintenance issues, such as engine wear and tear, you won’t be caught off-guard or have to jeopardize your utilization rate and bottom line to do so.
Beyond the benefits to driver safety and reduced costs, your fleet’s telematics data presents an excellent opportunity to optimize overall efficiency. You can easily track vehicle or asset location, even vehicle speed or seat belt use. All of that data can help inform how you train new drivers and manage their productivity amid traffic or poor weather conditions.

How to Conduct a Lifecycle Cost Analysis

If your fleet has been forced to keep up with maintenance and repairs for older vehicles, then your overall costs may have increased to account for it. That’s where a lifecycle cost analysis can help you see the total investment in each vehicle.
Typically, fleets can get away with either servicing vehicles when needed or on the service intervals provided by automakers. But with older fleet vehicles, the focus pivots to keeping costs manageable, which can be challenging as the miles continue to accumulate. Unplanned maintenance costs are more likely to occur with these models, along with lowered fuel efficiency and safety.
What should you look for when analyzing the lifecycle costs of your old fleet vehicles?
  • Total service history, with precise time intervals between services
  • Planned vs. unplanned maintenance costs, such as oil changes vs. engine breakdowns
  • Comparison between lifecycle cost and the cost to replace with a new vehicle
As the recent supply chain disruption has shown, it isn’t easy to plan for the best-case scenario with your fleet’s maintenance. By equipping yourself with detailed knowledge of each vehicle, especially the older models, you can set your fleet up for success with repairs or eventual replacements.

Let Spiffy Unify Your Fleet Maintenance Strategy

If you’ve been searching for a fleet maintenance partner, then look no further than Spiffy. Our Fleet Management as a Service (FMaaS) model has helped fleet managers like you simplify maintenance with an all-inclusive mobile solution specifically tailored to your fleet and your schedule.
Those interested in learning more about how we can help unify their fleet’s maintenance needs can reach out to our Fleet Account Management team and schedule a fleet cleaning demo today!

Posted in Fleet

Written by Jackson Balling

Jackson was Spiffy’s Content Marketing Manager from January 2019 to July 2022 and freelances for us now. Jackson brought over five years of professional experience in creative copywriting, audio production, and video editing to the Spiffy Marketing team.
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