Truck maintenance contracts gain traction

Heavy vehicle maintenance contracts are becoming increasingly popular, especially among operators who fully understand the factors affecting the operating costs of their vehicles. VIC OLIVER explains why.

Many truck manufacturers in South Africa offer a bolt-on vehicle maintenance contract at the time of purchase – and operators invariably find these contracts to be well priced and financially beneficial. Available from dealers and supported by the vehicle manufacturer, most of the heavy vehicle maintenance contracts available to South African operators fall into two basic categories.

Straightforward service contract
The first is a straightforward service contract, where the operator pays a set monthly amount to cover the cost of the vehicle’s scheduled services as stipulated by the manufacturer. These service contracts normally cover:
• All labour costs related to scheduled services
• Oils and lubricants used during the stipulated service, and
• All replacement parts as specified in the scheduled service.

Full maintenance contract
The second type is a full maintenance contract, where the operator pays a monthly fee which covers the cost of all services during the agreed period – with the added peace of mind that the full drivetrain is covered. The drivetrain includes major components such as the engine, clutch, transmission and rear axle.

Full maintenance contracts normally cover:
• All labour-related costs
• Oils and lubricants
• All replacement parts
• Engine repairs
• Transmission repairs
• Drivetrain repairs
• Electrical repairs, and
• Any other repair not subject to abuse or accident damage.

Operators enjoy many benefits when opting for a full maintenance contract.

• Set budget; no hidden surprises – this is one of the main reasons professional transport companies select full maintenance contracts.
• Protection from parts price increases, which is a major concern for operators, especially with the volatility in global financial markets.
• Reduced overheads, thanks to the need for fewer workshop staff and lower administration costs.
• The need to invest in expensive diagnostic equipment and special tools is eliminated.
• Maximum vehicle uptime is ensured, which allows operators to maximise their vehicle utility and profit.
• Lower running costs; an obvious consequence of a vehicle that is kept in prime condition.
• Improved resale value: operators find they can get good trade-in prices for vehicles that have been correctly serviced and maintained by the franchised dealer.

Quality of service:
• Work is done by qualified and well trained technicians who have all the latest manufacturer service bulletins. This enables them to keep your vehicle in prime operating condition.
• Improved vehicle reliability and uptime.

The convenience factor:
• Free vehicle recovery in the event of a roadside breakdown.
• The task of finding and retaining good technicians who are trained and qualified to work on modern vehicles equipped with the latest electronic vehicle management systems becomes a thing of the past – and fewer staff means fewer labour problems.

Service and full maintenance vehicle contracts might not be suitable for all new truck and bus operators – but with the many benefits that can be derived, they are well worth considering when buying a new truck or bus.


One of this country’s most respected commercial vehicle industry authorities, VIC OLIVER has been in this industry for 49 years. Before joining the FOCUS team, he spent 15 years with Nissan Diesel, 11 years with Busaf and seven years with International.

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Focus on Transport

FOCUS on Transport and Logistics is the oldest and most respected transport and logistics publication in southern Africa.
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