The unprecedented demand for chassis that began during the pandemic in 2020 is expected to continue through 2021 – and most likely into 2022. This is why carriers must consider these key factors when leasing chassis to successfully meet their needs in this challenging environment: chassis condition, leasing flexibility and service quality.

By Doug Hoehn, EVP Marine Chassis, Milestone Equipment Holdings, Special to the AJOT

Value of NEW, Modern Chassis

With the industry average chassis age between 15 and 20 years old, most chassis available for lease are older with outdated features such as two-piece, five-spoke wheels and bias ply retread tires. This leads to greater maintenance and repair costs, especially with more usage during the pandemic, as well as more breakdowns that produce lost driver time on the road and lost revenue from missed appointments. For example, bias ply retread tires often have blow-outs, especially in southern parts of the country with scorching temperatures, and one blown-out tire typically causes three to four hours of downtime for drivers – and significant lost income for carriers.

However, carriers should lease newer chassis as their superior reliability significantly lowers the company’s operating costs. These premium chassis have modern safety and technology features like OEM radial tires, LED lights, anti-lock braking systems, disc wheels and, in some areas, GPS tracking, and automatic tire inflation systems. While the daily lease rate for the new chassis is slightly higher than that of the older chassis, the total daily operating cost is significantly lower when you factor in the greatly reduced daily maintenance and repair costs compared to older chassis. The estimated annual maintenance and repair costs for a newer chassis is just $255 compared to $1,600 for a refurbished and $2,000 for an older chassis. Newer chassis fleets are often more diverse as they include 20- and 40-ft marine models, 33- and 40-ft tri-axles, 40- and 45-ft extendable length, 20- and 40-ft combo spread-axle or tri-axle configurations, and 53-ft domestic units. These specialty chassis are in greater demand because they provide the flexibility to haul a range of containers, which is critical in today’s tightened capacity.

Doug Hoehn, EVP Marine Chassis, Milestone Equipment Holdings
Doug Hoehn, EVP Marine Chassis, Milestone Equipment Holdings

Here are a few things to keep in mind when leasing new chassis:

Don’t settle: Find equipment that will last. You are going to pay more for good, quality chassis on the front end but it will – without a doubt – save you money in the long-run.

Have an eye for detail: Be sure the chassis you are considering possesses all the features that are most beneficial to your company and your drivers – from parts, to technology, to the finish.

Refurbished is NOT new: In an attempt to get more life out of their aging chassis, some companies repaint their old equipment and change out a few components to make them seem shiny and new when, in reality, the chassis is…

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