If you make repairs only when your truck breaks down then you aren’t running your truck, it’s running you. Preventative maintenance (PM) done on a regular basis and performed properly puts you in charge. PM can be expensive, but neglect is even more costly. Systematic PM saves you money in the long run by reducing the chances of equipment failure on the road and reducing time lost to repairs.
So how much should you really be putting away for maintenance? When a major engine repair can cost $22,000, it’s hard to determine how much you should save. Every good PM schedule begins with establishing a maintenance escrow savings account. Here is our recommended maintenance escrow savings schedule:

Maintenance Escrow Savings Scheudule
Age of Truck Maintenance Savings
New 5 cents per mile
1 year old or 150,000 miles 6 cents per mile
2 years old or 300,000 miles 7 cents per mile
3 years old or 450,000 miles 8 cents per mile
4 years old or 600,000 miles 10 cents per mile
5+ years old or 750,000+ miles 15 cents per mile

 *If you are spending more than 13-14 cents per mile on maintenance, it might be a good time to look into investing in a new truck. Check out our “Upgrade vs Rebuild” article to see a payment and maintenance cost analysis.
If you follow this schedule, you should be prepared with the appropriate funds to perform routine PM and pay for those unplanned costs that always seem to pop up. If you save too much and don’t have to use it, it’s money in the bank! Save for maintenance and it will save you time and money in the long run.

Comments (19)

Bill McClusky

I have been in the trucking and construction equipment service industry for 23 years as a service technician, component rebuild specialist (engine, transmission, and axle), service department manager, instructor and consultant. I was a class 8 truck driver for 3 years pulling wet and dry tanks. I have been with American Truck Business Services for 4 years serving as a Business Consultant, Maintenance Consultant, and Instructor.

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No Surprises!

January 03, 2015


Very helpful

January 08, 2017 16:59:37 PM

Very good and timely article. We are in the process of reviewing our escrow policy for our owner-operators.

August 23, 2013 3:37:30 AM

Great article and advise. Keep them coming.

February 22, 2013 14:24:29 PM

I put 150.00 a week in a maintenance account

September 25, 2012 17:20:29 PM

Thanks Bill. Great article, keep the info coming.

September 23, 2012 11:40:43 AM

New or old, it seems you are going to be spending either as much in maintenance a month on an old truck as you would in truck payments on a new truck. However, if I want to take a few weeks off, that truck is just sitting there not eating my funds up in either maintenance or truck payments. It's all how you want to run I suppose.

September 23, 2012 11:26:16 AM

An ounce of prevention. Pay me now or pay me later.

September 19, 2012 4:42:36 AM

a good friend of mines told me the problem with most O/O is they think the good time will last forever, and they don't so you better be ready for the bad times or you are out of business. I am still waiting for the good times. just kidding

September 12, 2012 19:01:28 PM

Nice seeing the escrow chart for maintenance budget.

Thanks Bill!

September 11, 2012 8:55:27 AM

great tip have better perspective now.

August 28, 2012 19:14:55 PM

Thank you for the article. In my 15 years over the road and growing up in the business I found new or used you should always have a rainy day fund. Warranty's are nice for major break downs but their are otheir items that still break that do not fall under the warranty.. Plus no matter what you still have you daily cost that you still have to pay with or without incoming freight.

August 21, 2012 13:22:36 PM

It scares me when I hear of O/O not have any money set aside for repairs or even worse that they do have money for fuel if they do not get a load. When I hear people say they have warranty so they do not need an emergency fund I cringe... While the truck is in the shop for warranty work the bills keep marching on and there is no money rolling in. Have money set aside even if the truck is under warranty

August 20, 2012 17:48:37 PM

.05 per mile for a new truck up to 150,000 miles sounds high to me....I would think about half that for the first year or even as little as .02 per mile.

August 17, 2012 20:53:26 PM

Guys, I just wanted to say thank you for this post. I have been owner operator sales specialist over 6 years for Selectrucks of New England out here in good old Massachusetts. We are the used division of Freightliner. I was just recently was introduced to this new site and so far I have found some very interesting topics. You can never do enough home work not only for your customers but just to better your own knowledge of the industry. I’m looking forward to reading more!!
Thanks a bunch

August 08, 2012 13:06:24 PM

Sometimes what you think is best and what you should do can be a grey shaded area. I believe this article hits the nail square on the head.

August 04, 2012 19:54:38 PM

In addition to a maintenance account another good thing is to have your self set up with a truck rental company . This cuts down the amount of time it takes to get a rental truck should your truck need major repairs. The rental truck will allow you to keep all of your commitments to all of your valued customers.

July 29, 2012 15:49:27 PM

Great savings plan to be ready for those costly repairs!

July 26, 2012 11:48:34 AM

Bill, great article! Preventative Maintenance is the key! Catch it early and you will be ahead of the game and making more money!

July 26, 2012 11:24:08 AM

Great advice Bill, and the chart is great way of showing how you can prepare for sudden maintenance emergencies.

July 26, 2012 9:41:29 AM