Maintenance Costs Rise in Q3, Report Finds

Parts, Labor Nudge Upward After Falling in Q2
A maintenance mechanic
A maintenance mechanic checks his data. (The Pete Store)

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Parts and labor costs in the trucking industry rose 1.9% in the third quarter of 2023 after falling during Q2, according to a report released Jan. 23 by American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council and Decisiv Inc.

“This return to increasing parts and labor costs highlights the fact that fleets must remain vigilant when it comes to managing their maintenance expense data,” TMC Executive Director Robert Braswell said in response to the findings, contained in the latest North American Service Event Benchmark Report. TMC and Decisiv jointly produce the quarterly report. Decisiv, based in Reston, Va., specializes in technology for vehicle maintenance.

Braswell noted that the Q3 gains followed a 1.3% decline in Q2 across the top 25 Vehicle Maintenance Reporting System Level Codes, which serve as the basis for the report. Interestingly, parts and labor expenses rose 1.9% individually during the quarter. On a year-over-year basis, Q3 parts costs rose 0.9% and labor costs rose 4.9% for a total combined increase of 2.5%.

“This important parts and labor cost analysis report is an excellent tool to help council members see how their operations are performing and plan accordingly,” Braswell said.

Per Decisiv data, combined parts and labor costs rose quarter-over-quarter in 18 of the 25 VMRS categories, while combined costs increased across 22 VMRS codes on an annual basis.


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The Q3 report comes just a few weeks before TMC is scheduled to host its 2024 Annual Meeting and Transportation Technology Exhibition in New Orleans March 4-7.

TMC in a news release noted that with truck tonnage and mileage continuing to decline, the higher parts costs are likely due to the impact of ongoing inflationary pressures.

Truck tonnage dipped in December, closing out the worst 12 months for freight activity since the pandemic year of 2020, ATA reported Jan. 23. The ATA For-Hire Truck Tonnage index fell 0.5% to 115.7 from a year ago, the federation said. On a month-to-month basis, the index rose 2.1% from 113.7 in November, offering a glimmer of hope that trucking is fighting its way out of a stubborn freight recession. December marked the 10th consecutive year-over-year decrease, albeit the smallest, ATA noted.

TMC also noted that the ongoing technician shortage in the heavy equipment field is causing challenges for the labor costs side of the equation and is impacting dealers and fleets. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the costs associated with technician recruitment will not see any relief for the foreseeable future and are likely to remain high, with a projected need of nearly 24,000 heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians each year on average over the next decade.

Dick Hyatt


“Despite running fewer miles to handle lower freight volumes and the influx of less repair-intensive new trucks, fleets and service providers are still challenged by inflationary cost pressures on parts prices and higher labor costs,” Decisiv President and CEO Dick Hyatt said. “The data in this report, however, enables everyone in the service supply chain to anticipate and focus on areas where cost control measures will prove most valuable.”

The Decisiv/TMC North American Service Event Benchmark Reports are generated using data from the Decisiv SRM platform on service and repair events for more than 7 million commercial assets operating across the U.S. and Canada. The company’s asset service management system is used to manage a weekly average of 70,000 service events at nearly 5,000 locations.

ATA’s Technology & Maintenance Council issues the quarterly reports to its fleet members. The reports are organized based on VMRS-coded vehicle systems and geographic location.

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