Lengthening replacement cycles caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and new vehicle supply shortages are causing a sharp rise in major component failures for some van operators, according to software firm Fleetcheck.
It said that was more fleet vans entering the fifth and even sixth year of their operational lives, expensive mechanical breakdowns were becoming more commonplace.
Fleetcheck managing director Peter Golding said: “It’s not uncommon for vans for break the 100,000 mile mark during their operational life but we are seeing numbers running well beyond that point and it is a development resulting in mechanical failures that fleets don’t often experience.
“Top of the list is probably gearboxes but we are also seeing more vehicles undergoing a second clutch or cambelt replacement. These are expensive items for which few fleets will have budgeted.
“The fact is the older vans are more costly to keep on the road than newer ones and – until they can source replacements - many fleets are starting to have to spend large sums of money on aged vehicles that, in absolute terms, are worth relatively small sums of cash.”
Golding added that there were strategies operators could use to reduce the chances of breakdowns occurring.
He said: “There are a number of practices that fleets can employ but the simplest and most effective is to ensure that the vehicles that are most likely to suffer failures – something that the technology can help to identify – are used in the lowest stress applications.
“If you have a van that is six years old and has covered 150,000 miles, it is best used for light local duties than for ploughing up and down the motorway, adding another 1,000 miles every week. Just making that kind of change can have a positive impact.”