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.
Table of Contents
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.
- It comes with a warranty
- Needs less repairs and maintenance
- 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.
- It is affordable
- Easy to customize and add new modifications
- 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.
- It is a cost-effective way of operating a truck
- Can immediately start your trucking journey
- 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.
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 Brands
|AffordableEasy to find replacement partsExcellent designs with fuel efficient enginesService centers around the nationMost popular engines: Detroit DDR15 and DDR13
|Suspension system is not comfortableHigh maintenance cost
|Comfortable sleeper berthsSmooth suspension system
|Parts are pricierHigh operating cost
|Fuel efficient designsWidespread service centersEasy access to parts
|Engine parts can be costlyUncomfortable sleeper space
|Comfortable sleep berth
|Replacement parts can take time to arriveExpensive to maintain
|Low cost of maintenanceComfortable sleeper berthsAccessible service centers
|Engine issues related to emissionsFrequent reliability problems with engines
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.
|Front Axle Weight
|Rear Axle Weight
|Cost of Vehicle
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’.
Semi truck dimensions
|Length of Semi-Truck
|– Day cabs: Approximately 20 feet- Sleeper cabs: Approximately 20 feet
|– 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
|– Most states cap at 53 feet but Texas and Oklahoma permit up to 59 feet
|Height of Semi-Truck
|– Most tractors: 13 ½ feet tall (including wind fairing). Cab heights vary (6-10 feet)
|– 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
|– Not exceeding 14 feet
|Width of Semi-Truck
|Trailer and Tractor
|– Mostly: 8 ½ feet. – Exception for mirrors: An additional 10 inches on both sides, allowing a total width of 10 feet
|In 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 cost
|Average 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 Inspections
|Varies (upwards of $200
|2. Unexpected Repairs and Breakdowns
|Varies (average $411)
Some expensive repairs
|Clutch System Replacement
|Cooling System Replacement
|Charging System Replacement
|3. Tire Replacement
|Every 3 to 6 years
|Varies (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.
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!
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