Should You Refurbish That Work Truck?
Considering purchasing a brand new work truck? Has your current work truck seen better days? Your work truck may take a beating day in and day out on the jobsite and appear like its useful life is over. Time for a new work truck, right? Not so fast. It’s time to consider refurbishment.
Most refurbishment programs offer the following services for your upfit:
- Hardware replacement (compartment latches, hinges, etc if needed)
- Body repairs
- Hydraulic repairs & preventative maintenance (cranes, hoists, pumps, hoses, etc)
Many times, cost is a major factor in the decision to refurb or purchase new. Work trucks with highly customized upfits or a steep new acquisition price tag are the most common for refurbishment. These can include mechanics trucks, utility and service trucks, heavy-duty dump trucks, lube trucks and more. In order to properly evaluate the cost and quantify the difference between new and refurbishment, you must first know the costs and projected life in years of each.
An example would be a brand new mechanics truck will cost you $100,000 and you expect to get ten years of life out of the vehicle. In contrast, if you refurb your existing mechanics truck it will cost $30,000 and you expect to get five additional years of life out of the vehicle. With these numbers you can determine a per operating year cost (minus fuel and maintenance) with both of these choices. To calculate, you would divide the cost by the numbers of expected life years. So for a new truck, the cost per year would come to $10,000 ($100,000 / 10). For a refurbished truck, the cost per year would come to $6,000 ($30,000 / 5). In this example, the refurbishment option would save you $4,000 per year over five years, providing a total savings of $20,000.
With a new work truck placed into service there is typically little time lost transitioning from the old work truck to the new. This direct swap out keeps you on the job. Refurbishments, on the other hand, can take weeks or months to complete depending upon the complexity of the vehicle. Generally speaking, many can’t afford to take a vehicle out of service that long and lose the revenue potential associated with the vehicle. Always ask to receive a reliable timeline for completion of the refurbishment so you understand how much downtime will occur. If your work experiences slow times throughout the year, plan ahead and have the refurbishment completed when it will least affect your work.
While there are many companies that specialize in installing truck bodies and equipment, far fewer offer refurbishment services. Refurbishment requires substantial attention to detail and a staff with the proper skill sets and experience. Upfits like mechanics trucks, lube trucks and dump trucks require techs that can refurbish hydraulic equipment such as telescopic cranes, hoists and more. Be diligent when evaluating and selecting your refurbishment partner and ensure they have the expertise to complete the job. If you are unsure, ask for client references of past refurbishments they have completed.
Remounts are the “middle ground” between buying all new and refurbishment. Truck equipment distributors remove the body and equipment form the old work truck, refurbish it and mount it on a new truck chassis. In some cases, remounting may not be feasible or possible. The refurbished body and equipment may have been designed for a specific truck. Trucks constantly evolve from model year to model year and the older your current work truck is the more difficult a remount will be. Always speak to your refurbishment partner so they can determine if a remount is possible and safe for a new truck.
Regardless of your budget, needs, or timeline, there are many options to consider when in need of a new work vehicle. What’s important is that you consider all of the factors and make the decision that makes most sense for your business.