Money-Saving Tricks for Commercial Vehicle Parts Owner-Operators Need to Know
The cost of commercial truck parts is at an all-time high. How can small trucking companies keep up without breaking the bank?
If you've purchased parts for your commercial motor vehicle (CMV) lately, you've probably noticed that prices keep climbing and shipping times keep getting longer. Neither of these challenges are ideal when you need your truck fixed ASAP.
Uncertain economic conditions and supply chain issues continue to factor together to create the perfect storm – and owner-operators are feeling the impact on their profits.
In a recent FleetOwner article, small trucking companies expressed their frustrations surrounding sourcing commercial truck parts. One owner-operator, John McCormick, shared he’d recently purchased an actuator that normally costs about $500, but the only one he could find was available online for $2,000.
"I had to have it because the truck wouldn’t run without it,” said McCormick. “There seems to be a lot of that, a lot of price gouging.”
It's All About the Bottom Line
Many owner-operators like McCormick are taking things into their own hands in an effort to salvage their 2023 profits. A Truckstop survey revealed small trucking business owners are doing the following:
- 66% are spending more time looking for fuel-efficient routes
- 66% are using additional technology to help keep costs low
- 60% are joining more reward programs to take advantage of money-saving incentives
- 51% are using factoring to help improve cash flow
- 47% are looking more intently for cheaper fuel
- 45% are taking on additional loads to compensate for rising costs
Despite the challenging market and difficulty sourcing commercial truck parts, nearly 65% of owner-operators reported that they're still extremely satisfied with their job, according to the same survey. And there are additional realistic steps this hardworking group can take to maintain that satisfaction while focusing on their profitability, which we dive into below.
How to Keep Up with the Cost of Commercial Truck Parts
Even as scarce availability and skyrocketing pricing of commercial vehicle parts remain the new norm for small trucking companies, there are a few solutions out there that can help prevent the need for rushed part orders.
Regularly Maintain & Inspect Your Vehicles
As the Truckstop survey highlighted, more and more owner-operators are taking regular maintenance seriously, since it can make a real difference in the longevity of commercial vehicles.
Ensuring your CMVs are in good working condition reduces the likelihood of breakdowns and accidents – both of which can add the expense of calling on a wrecker to tow your CMV to your bottom line. Plus, the more accidents you're involved in, the higher your risk of DOT vehicle inspections and compliance audits climbs.
Regular maintenance can prolong the lifespan of your vehicles as well as any costly parts you may have already replaced. For instance, if you notice your brakes are noisier than usual, replacing the pads as soon as possible can reduce further wear on the rotors themselves, which can be a pricey and time-consuming job.
Routine inspections are the crucial counterpart to regular maintenance. Whether you're an owner-operator and conduct your own inspections or you run a small fleet and train your drivers to perform pre- and post-trip inspections, you're much more likely to identify and address potential issues before they become major problems. Improving the overall safety and reliability of your CMVs is easier when you add scheduled maintenance and inspections to your list of priorities.
Slow Down & Cruise
Whether you're the primary driver for your company or you rely on a handful of employees who drive, engaging the cruise control when you get behind the wheel of your CMVs can make a real difference. Using cruise control reduces the number of times and the rate that the vehicle accelerates. Maintaining a consistent speed on flat, straight roads is less stressful on the truck's motor.
Related Foley Article: CDL Drivers Can Face the Highest Speeding Fines in these States
Using cruise control also eases foot fatigue for those who take longer hauls. It also helps ensure drivers are traveling at safe, consistent speeds to reduce the likelihood of you or your drivers committing traffic violations. Although it's an indirect source of savings, using cruise control can dial back the costs of speeding.
Consider Your (Parts) Options
Working with a reputable parts provider is key to getting reliable and affordable commercial vehicle parts in less time. Although they may cost less than original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts, aftermarket parts do have their pros and cons.
Parts sourced directly from the manufacturer may be of higher quality and often include a limited warranty, but their price tag may be higher and the shipping ETA may take longer than you'd like; however, aftermarket parts can be priced lower and potentially be available sooner, but their quality and performance may not be guaranteed.
Choosing between OEM and aftermarket parts can be a tough decision for any truck owner, but your local truck dealer or mechanic may be able to provide further insight into the best option for your specific repair or maintenance needs.
Cost Savings Beyond Commercial Truck Parts
Now that you know some of the secrets to avoid wasting your hard-earned money on commercial vehicle parts, there's another money-saving trick we'd like to fill you in on: Relying on Foley for your DOT compliance needs.
The last thing any owner-operator or small trucking company needs is to pay thousands of dollars in fines after failing to comply with the latest federal regulations. And if you're still handling your compliance on your own, you could be missing numerous requirements that you're not even aware of yet.
Don't put your DOT compliance (and finances) to chance! Talk to a Foley compliance expert today and see how easy and affordable it can be to meet the complex federal guidelines set for small trucking companies like yours.
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