Automotive fleets rank tire costs No. 3

Dec. 25, 2011

By far, the number one expense of automotive fleet operators is fuel. How do tires rank as an operating cost?

Automotive Fleet (AF) magazine, a sister publication of Modern Tire Dealer, records such costs annually. In its November 2011 issue, AF broke down the costs by light-duty vehicle type and miles driven for 2011.

As you might expect during the vehicle's lifecycle, cost per mile generally rises as miles increase. That is particularly true of tire costs.

"Fuel prices were approximately 73 cents to $1 per gallon higher than the same period in 2010," wrote Editor Mike Antich and Senior Editor Grace Suizo in the article accompanyng the statistics. "The price of replacement tires for light-duty vehicles rose 6 to 10 percent."

Here are some of the facts from the 20th annual operating costs survey, using two light vehicle segments: compact cars, which, on average, cost the least to maintain, and full-size vans, which require the most.

Compact cars

Miles                  Cost/month   % tire cost

<24,001              $218.96        3.2%

24,001-48,000     $259.56         5.6%

48,001-80,000     $336.40         5.3%

80,001-100,000   $290.70         9.5%

As you can see, the monthly cost of tires per compact car to fleet owners generally increases as the mileage increases.

Full-size vans

Miles                  Cost/month  % tire cost

<24,001              $467.44       2.0%

24,001-48,000     $488.04        4.2%

48,001-80,000     $568.33        5.0%

80,001-100,000   $580.18        4.7%

With full-size vans, the tire cost per month declines after 80,000 miles drive -- but not by much.

In addition to compact cars and full-size vans, AF breaks down the costs for intermediate cars, minivans, light trucks and SUVs.

Tire represent the third highest cost -- behind gasoline and maintenance/repair -- to light vehicle fleet owners. Oil is fourth.

However, within the first 24,000 miles driven by compact cars, intermediate cars and SUVs, the average cost of oil per month is actually higher than tire costs. That quickly changes as the miles pile up.