How To Buy a Semi Truck as an Owner Operator?

Becoming an owner operator in the trucking industry is a significant step towards more freedom and money. One of the crucial decisions you’ll face in this journey is buying a semi truck. It isn’t just a simple thing, it’s an investment that can shape your entire trucking career.

Here are some key considerations to keep in mind when buying a semi truck as an owner operator.

Things to consider while buying a semi truck

I. Purchase or Lease a truck

The first and foremost thing to consider is to decide whether to purchase or lease a truck. Carefully decide after considering the pros and cons of each option.

Purchasing a semi truck

When it comes to purchasing a truck, you have to further decide on whether to buy a new or a used truck. By considering the amount of investment you are ready to make and your business type, you can decide whether to buy a new truck or not. 

1. Buying a new truck

If finance is not a problem and you want high reliability on your truck rather than spending on unnecessary repairs and maintenance, buying a new one could be a great option. The cost of new semi truck can be anywhere between $175000 – $190000 depending on the make and model you choose.

Pros: 

  • It comes with a warranty
  • Needs less repairs and maintenance

Cons:

  • It requires heavy investment
  • Its value depreciates rapidly

2. Buying a used truck

If you are an owner operator wanting to save money you can opt for buying a used truck. A used truck can range anywhere from $45000 to $100000. Do keep in mind to avoid trucks that are more than 5 years old and which are driven for more than 600000 miles.

When purchasing a used truck, consider buying it from someone whom you already know as they would be more honest about the truck’s condition and its performance. However, if you are considering dealerships, thoroughly inspect the vehicle and go for a test drive. Also don’t forget to check the truck’s maintenance records to avoid paying more than the truck’s actual worth. 

Pros:

  • It is affordable
  • Easy to customize and add new modifications

Cons:

  • High cost of repairs and maintenance
  • Warranty may not be included

Leasing a semi truck

Leasing is another good option if you are just starting your business as an owner operator or if you don’t want to take huge investment risk. A lease is a kind of agreement between the lessee (Owner operator) and the lessor (Truck leasing company). Just like leasing a house, the former agrees to pay a certain sum of money to the latter till the lease period ends. At the end of the lease period, the lessee can either return the asset or extend the lease agreement.

Before signing the lease agreement thoroughly read the lease contract and know what all costs are included in the lease payment. Some lenders also cover the truck’s maintenance costs. 

Pros:

  • It is a cost-effective way of operating a truck
  • Can immediately start your trucking journey

Cons:

  • Modification options for leased trucks are limited
  • Sometimes, the lease cost when added up can be higher than the upfront purchase cost

II. Truck type

It’s important to consider what features you prefer in your truck. Each driver has their likes and dislikes of how a truck should look and perform. The following are the various features to consider before buying a truck. 

Day cab or a sleeper: Semi trucks are of two types. A day cab is compact and is used for short-haul deliveries. On the other hand, a sleeper cab has room for the drivers to cook and relax and is mainly used for long-haul deliveries.

Type of engine: There are two types of engines – manual transmission and automated transmission. Decide on which is comfortable for you because even though automated transmissions are easy to use, some still prefer manual ones. 

Model: Another feature to consider is the model type you are looking for. Each model has its style, quality, and performance. Depending on the model type, the cost may also vary.

Mileage: Analyze and get to know the expected monthly fuel cost and the fuel mileage for different trucks.

III. Budget

Before you start up that engine and hit the road as a proud semi truck owner, you’ve got to do some math. Sit down and figure out how much you are comfortable to spend. And hey, remember it’s not just the truck price we’re talking about here. There’s the down payment, the monthly installments, insurance, fuel costs, repairs and maintenance.

Once you decide on the budget, it’s time to start looking for semi truck brands that suit your needs. Some of the popular semi truck brands are:

Semi Truck BrandsProsCons
FreightlinerAffordableEasy to find replacement partsExcellent designs with fuel efficient enginesService centers around the nationMost popular engines: Detroit DDR15 and DDR13Suspension system is not comfortableHigh maintenance cost
PeterbiltComfortable sleeper berthsSmooth suspension systemParts are pricierHigh operating cost
KenworthFuel efficient designsWidespread service centersEasy access to partsEngine parts can be costlyUncomfortable sleeper space
VolvoComfortable sleep berthReplacement parts can take time to arriveExpensive to maintain
InternationalLow cost of maintenanceComfortable sleeper berthsAccessible service centersEngine issues related to emissionsFrequent reliability problems with engines

Cost Estimation 

If you are wondering about the financing and the estimated monthly payments, set back and refer to the following table.

Please note that these are rough estimates, and may vary depending on the market conditions.

SpecificationsNewUsed
Year20242020
ManufacturerFreightlinerFreightliner
ModelCascadiaCascadia 126
Miles29 Miles453,552 Miles
Weight ClassClass 8Class 8
Horse Power455 HP455 HP
Engine TypeDD15DD15
Front Axle Weight12000 lbs12350 lbs
Rear Axle Weight40000 lbs40000 lbs
Cost of Vehicle$179,995 USD$67,995 USD
Down Payment$17999.5$6799.5
Interest rate10%10%
Term36 months36 months
Payment Amount$5,227/month$1,974/month

How long is a semi truck?

To answer the question how long is a semi truck, a standard semi-truck is 70 feet long combining the tractor and trailer. However, this may vary based on various factors.

The standard semi truck trailer’s dimension in Length x Width x Height is 53’ x  13 ½’ x 8 ½’.

How long is a semi truck

Semi truck dimensions

AspectDimensionDetails
Length of Semi-TruckTractor– Day cabs: Approximately 20 feet- Sleeper cabs: Approximately 20 feet
Trailer– Standard dry van trailer: 53 feet- Flatbed trailers: 48-53 feet- Intermodal trailers: 53 feet- Step deck:  Total 48 ft. – 53 ft                      Lower Deck 37 ft. – 43 ft                      Upper Deck 10 ft. – 11 ft
State Requirements– Most states cap at 53 feet but Texas and Oklahoma permit up to 59 feet
Height of Semi-TruckTractor– Most tractors: 13 ½ feet tall (including wind fairing). Cab heights vary (6-10 feet)
Trailer– Standard dry van trailers: 13 ½ feet tall (9 feet door height)- Flatbed trailers: Around 5 feet- Intermodal trailers: 9 ½ feet- Step decks: Lower Deck 3 ft. – 3 ½ ft                      Upper Deck 5 ft
State Requirements– Not exceeding 14 feet
Width of Semi-TruckTrailer and Tractor– Mostly: 8 ½ feet. – Exception for mirrors: An additional 10 inches on both sides, allowing a total width of 10 feet
State RequirementsIn 49 states 8 ½ feet, while Hawaii permits 9 feet

What is the average semi truck maintenance cost?

When you own a semi-truck, being smart about money matters. By knowing how often to keep up with maintenance and being ready for surprise repairs or new tires, you can plan your budget better. The following are the average semi truck maintenance costs you will likely incur.

Semi truck maintenance costs

                          Type of costFrequency/IntervalAverage Cost (Approximate)



1. Preventive Maintenance Intervals:
Dry Preventive Maintenance (PM A) Every 10,000 to 25,000 mi$80 to $100
Wet Preventive Maintenance (PM B)Every 25,000 mi (some up to 50,000 mi)$300 to $450
DOT Truck InspectionsAnnual Varies (upwards of $200
2. Unexpected Repairs and BreakdownsAs neededVaries (average $411)



Some expensive repairs
Clutch System ReplacementAs neededAverages $1,000
Cooling System Replacement As neededAverages $704
Charging System ReplacementAs neededAverages $676
3. Tire ReplacementEvery 3 to 6 yearsVaries (average $4,000)

Insights into how much is the average semi truck maintenance cost and how often you need maintenance you can keep your truck rolling smoothly without any costly surprises.

Conclusion

Buying a semi truck requires careful consideration and a thorough understanding of the ins and outs of the industry. From managing your budget to selecting the right truck type, there’s a lot to consider. Remember, it’s not just about trucks, it’s about the safety, efficiency, and sustainability of your entire operation. So, do your research, talk to the experts, and gear up for a smooth ride ahead!

Yoga Laxmi
Social Media Marketer at OpenFR8 | More posts

I am copyright writer with OpenFR8. I take a little bit of time to complete my blogs because I undergo research and analysis of each and every article to gather accurate information. For me, writing is not just a job; it feeds my creativity and desire to share insightful information with readers. As a writer, I like to present content that is valuable and easily understood by every individual. I believe in the power of words, and if they are used in a good manner, they can create many positive changes around us.

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