Stretching the Lives of Older Trucks

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Chris Van Houten/Trans Pixs

Tight budgets can make it challenging for fleets to replace aging vehicles with all-new equipment. One cost-saving solution is truck refurbishing, especially in cases where a truck body has less wear-and-tear than a chassis — or vice-versa.

Whether refurbishing is a viable option depends on factors specific to each fleet, such as the age and condition of the components to be reused, the expectations for the vehicle’s service life and the total replacement cost. But being able to reuse an existing work body on a new chassis — or putting a new body on a chassis that still has years of service — can save up to half the purchase cost of an all-new chassis-body combination, suppliers said.

The first step in refurbishing is to maintain the trucks properly throughout their life, said Dan Thomas, sales manager for Badger Truck Equipment of Milwaukee, Wis.

“With a good maintenance program starting when the vehicles are new, the fleets are going to have something worth refurbishing after 10 years,” he said.

Beyond that, look at the truck to evaluate the length of service that can be obtained after refurbishment compared with the vehicle’s replacement cost.

A service body truck with crane “can be sandblasted, repainted and equipped with all-new hydraulic lines for $10,000 to $15,000, compared to $60,000 to $70,000 for a new body and crane,” Thomas said.

It makes sense to refurbish if you can get an additional 10 to 15 years’ service out of a vehicle, Thomas said.

Dump trucks and plow trucks are the most popular models as customers move long-lasting stainless steel dump bodies and spreaders over to newer chassis, Thomas said. A plow truck, for example, can be refurbished for 30% to 40% of the cost of a new one, he said.

“A lot depends on the life cycle on the truck,” he said. “If you can keep the refurbishment cost at 50% or less of a new truck, you’re ahead of the game.”

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© 2012, Transport Topics Publishing Group. All rights reserved.

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