Operators planning to extend their fleet replacement cycles in the wake of the coronavirus crisis could incur expensive service, maintenance and repair (SMR) costs, epyx warns.

The company provides the 1link Service Network SMR platform through which fleet operators can buy and manage SMR from around 9,000 franchise, independent and fast-fits.

Debbie Fox, epyx commercial director, warned this week that SMR costs can rise “considerably” in the fourth and fifth years of the cycle.

She added: “It seems like an obvious gain to defer replacing vehicles because it looks as though you are saving money when budgets are under pressure.

“However, the truth can be different. If you examine the cost of SMR over time, it tends to rise quite quickly as the vehicle ages.”

Pointing to industry SMR data, Fox said costs tend to rise around the point of the first MOT at three years, when the warranty ends for most major manufacturers.

She added: “There are several reasons for this and the picture does vary quite considerably when you look at different models and mileages, but you may find that you will have to buy a complete set of tyres or pass the point at which a major scheduled service is due.

“For some vehicles, there may even be relatively expensive one-off costs such as the replacement of a timing chain.”

Fox advises operators to consider leasing which may be a cheaper option.

“Really, the important thing is to do the maths and work out which option results in the lower cost. If you lease vehicles, your leasing company should be able to help with this or, if you are a user of 1link Service Network, we will often be able to provide advice,” she said.