Breakdowns ‘increasing’ as van delays lengthen replacement cycles

Fleets forced to run vans for longer due to lengthening lead times as a result of the semiconductor crisis are seeing some major component failures, says FleetCheck.

The software company has previously warned that fleet maintenance will require greater attention with lengthening delays to new car and van deliveries

The industry is being impacted by longer lead times for new cars and vans as manufacturers struggle to cope with the global semiconductor shortage.

Every car- and van-maker is being impacted by the computer chip crisis, with some delivery times for cars lengthening from three to six months, and many new vans not expected to be delivered until 2022.

FleetCheck says it means more light commercial vehicles (LCVs) are entering the fifth and sixth year of their operational life, with mechanical breakdowns becoming more commonplace as a result.

Peter Golding, managing director at FleetCheck, explains that many fleets delayed van renewals around the start of the pandemic, but are now finding that new models are difficult to source.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

Golding claims many fleets are starting to have to spend “large sums of money” on aging vehicles. “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,” added Golding.

“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.”

FleetCheck’s warning comes in the wake of a similar advice from the Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP) recently warned that measures may need to be adopted by fleets to cope with the emerging shortage of semiconductors disrupting car and van production.

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