What are Engine Hours?

October 26, 2021

engine hours

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Key Takeaways

Engine hour data helps businesses monitor the wear and tear on their vehicles, even when the vehicle is stationary. With engine hour information, fleet managers can set up preventive maintenance, track idling time, and ensure accurate billing for equipment use. Learn more about tracking engine hours.

What are engine hours?

Engine hours are the number of hours an engine has run over its lifetime. Fleet managers can track total hours with an engine hour meter.

Why track engine hours?

Tracking engine hour data is useful for measuring wear and tear on commercial vehicles, even when the vehicle is stationary. By tracking engine hours, fleet managers gain insight into a vehicle or piece of equipment’s actual condition and adjust accordingly.

Proactive maintenance

When businesses use a fleet management system, they can schedule and receive preventive maintenance alerts based on engine hours. By tracking data over time, fleet managers can identify trends in performance and spot potential issues earlier. When businesses know when their vehicles and assets need to be serviced, they can build maintenance schedules and plan downtime.

For example, tracking engine hours helps manage oil changes. Or, equipment managers and operators can spot-check engine hours for stationary assets that run for hours, such as bulldozers and cranes.

Idling time

In tracking engine hours, businesses can also track idle time. Aside from fuel consumption costs, the other main drawback from a lot of idling is engine wear. Because a diesel engine doesn’t operate at peak temperature while idling, fuel doesn’t combust as well, leaving behind residue and a building up of carbon in the engine. Idling could ultimately lead to increased engine maintenance and damage to the exhaust system.

Accurate billing

By tracking engine runtime and power takeoff, construction companies can better estimate the cost of upcoming projects. They can also use this data to bill customers accurately or prove claimed usage with actual equipment and vehicle usage in the event of a dispute.

Stay under warranties

Some manufacturers require companies to keep track of how many hours the asset or vehicle has been used to stay under warranty. Tracking engine hours lets fleet managers easily view engine use and stay within the warranty’s limits.

Tracking vehicle wear: engine hours vs. mileage

There is an ongoing debate about whether businesses should use engine hours or miles as a performance indicator. Currently, many businesses follow a service year- or mileage-based replacement policy. However, this strategy isn't as accurate for vehicles and equipment with significant idle hours.

Fleet managers can use both metrics to determine regular maintenance intervals and replacements—it all depends on the work trucks' application. For fleet vehicles that experience a lot of time over the road, mileage is usually preferred. Mileage helps businesses assess expenses incurred against revenue generated for every vehicle and mile. However, if the organization owns fleet vehicles with higher idle time than drive time—such as cement mixers or waste management trucks—their engine runtime will be high without it reflected in odometer readings. This is when engine hours can be a better marker for maintenance intervals.

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