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Vehicle Replacement Schedule for Semi-Trucks: A Quick and Helpful Guide

Trying to determine the best time to replace a rig can be difficult for fleet managers. Too early, and you’re spending money on a vehicle that isn’t fully utilized. Too late, and you risk mechanical issues and unexpected downtime.

The key is to create and follow a replacement schedule that takes into account all of the factors that affect a truck’s lifespan. In this blog post, we will be discussing everything you need to know about vehicle replacement schedules – specifically, how to calculate them, implement them, and monitor your results.  


One of the most important factors in deciding when to replace a semi-truck is age. Older trucks are more likely to experience mechanical issues and require more frequent repairs.

This can lead to unexpected downtime, which can be costly for your business. Additionally, newer trucks are often more fuel-efficient, meaning they’ll save you money over time, sometimes exponentially when gas prices are stubbornly high as they have been for the last two years.

Some will tell you to replace the vehicle every 4-5 years, and while that’s conservative advice, it may not be the best way to get the most value out of your semi-trucks. Age should be taken into account, but as you’re about to see, it’s one of several factors.

Mileage and Use

In addition to age, another factor affecting a truck’s lifespan is mileage. The average semi-truck covers about 45,000 miles per year, but busy haulers can go well beyond this.

If a truck consistently exceeds the average, as it will if you’ve got some good haulers working for you, it will likely need to be replaced sooner than later, regardless of the truck’s age. This is because excessive mileage puts additional stress on the engine, transmission, and other vital components.

As such, it’s important to track your trucks’ mileage and keep an eye out for any trends that may indicate the need for an early replacement. Keep in mind that many big rigs can hit 750,000-1 million miles if they are well cared for. But preventative maintenance is key to that.

Another factor is how, specifically, you are using the truck. For example, if you’re mostly hauling light loads over short distances, your truck will last longer than if you’re constantly maxing out its capacity with cross-country hauls.

This is because the former scenario puts less stress on the aforementioned parts and components. Parts of the country with rugged terrain will also play a role in the truck’s performance depreciation over time. So, whether using the truck for short or long distances, you must keep close tabs on preventative maintenance and seize on concerns before they get a chance to become major issues.

Cost of Repairs 

Even if you stay on top of PMs, your truck is destined for repairs. You can’t stop them from happening. With that in mind, it’s vital to look at the truck’s cost of repairs quarterly and annually to stay on top of significant changes that occur over time.

Older trucks, especially, will need more expensive repairs. And if those repairs come too closely to the end of the vehicle’s replacement schedule, then you’ll never get that rig back into the black. It’s when the cost of repairing an older truck starts to exceed the cost of buying a new one that it’s probably time for a replacement. 

Setting Your Vehicle Replacement Schedule Will Keep Your Fleet in the Driver’s Seat

There is no hard and fast rule for when fleet managers should replace their semi-trucks. However, age, mileage, and repair costs are all important factors to consider when making this decision. By taking these factors into account and creating a replacement schedule accordingly, you can help ensure that your business always has the well-functioning vehicles it needs to succeed.

At J&A Fleet Maintenance, we have many years of experience working with companies of all sizes to ensure that they get every last bit of value from the rigs that they’re using. It’s our goal to keep your trucks running smoothly well past 150,000 miles, and we’re ready to do the same for you with affordable packages that can keep you moving, earning, and safe. Call or check out the rest of our website today to learn more.

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