Buying your first semi-truck is an intimidating experience because there are numerous things to consider.
That's why to reduce your stress levels, it's recommended to get informed about making such an important decision as buying a semi-truck.
Below, find questions that you should ask yourself when planning to buy your first semi-truck.
Do you need a semi-truck with a sleeper or without?
If you are an over-the-road truck driver, a sleeper is essential because sleeper cabs are spacious and ideal for the driver's resting time.
For many OTR drivers, their rigs are like their homes because they spend in them so much time and because they cost a lot of money.
A rig may cost as much as a house.
Some drivers who own their rigs even live in them.
But, if you are a short-haul or local driver, a day cab should work for your needs.
Day cabs don’t include sleepers.
So they are used for quick day trips.
They tend to be less expensive compared to semi-trucks with sleepers.
So, knowing if you need a semi-truck with a sleeper or without depends on whether you do OTR routes or not.
How much should you spend on a semi-truck?
A brand-new semi-truck may cost around $100,000 and beyond. This is big money. Right?!
Though a used semi-truck may cost a little less than a new semi-truck, its cost is still too high to spend all at once.
So, as you may understand, buying your first semi-truck is a major investment and you don't want to rush the process of purchasing it.
A better way to think about buying a semi-truck is to consider this purchase as a business investment.
A semi-truck is an asset that will provide a financial return for years to come.
Is it best to buy a new or used semi-truck?
The next high-level decision to make is whether to go for a brand-new unit or pick up something used.
There are advantages to each option:
Advantages Of Buying A New Truck
- Reliability - the semi-truck mechanical systems weaken as they age. That is why by buying a new semi-truck, you can be more confident that your rig will stay on the road longer without the risk of costly breakdowns. New trucks usually include factory warranties. So, even if something goes wrong, you’ll know it’s covered.
- Fewer maintenance requirements - new trucks usually require far less scheduled maintenance than used ones. At least for a few years, that adds up to less downtime and lower operating costs.
- More potential business opportunities - some brokers and shippers require that carriers provide newer equipment. Even if your 20-year-old rig is shipshape, running used vehicles may knock you out of the running on certain bids.
- High-tech perk -looking for advanced telematics built into your cab? What about pre-installed auxiliary power units or digital safety features? The newer the truck, the more likely it’ll come with these features ready to go.
Advantages Of Buying A Used Truck
- Lower cost - many first-time truck buyers simply can’t afford a new rig. You’ll face lower initial and monthly truck payments when you buy a used semi-truck.
- Availability - even if you order a new truck, the manufacturer may not be able to deliver immediately. Used semi-trucks are already sitting on the lot, ready to go.
- Matching driver experience - a more mechanically inclined owner-operator may be comfortable handling maintenance or even breakdowns on their own. That could make the lower cost of a used vehicle more attractive.
Should you lease or buy your semi-truck?
Leasing a semi-truck outsources many of the responsibilities of its ownership.
Your leasing company may handle maintenance, DOT compliance, vehicle registration, and even roadside assistance.
It’s what some business owners call a “turnkey solution.”
On the other side, there are advantages to owning a semi-truck.
One thing is the asset value.
If you want to take out a loan, banks may require collateral. Your own trucks pack a lot more value into your business and can open up more funding opportunities.
Plus, when you own your truck, you have the freedom to use and modify it as you want.
Ultimately, ownership gives you more control over your business. But also adds a lot of responsibility. Leasing may be the safer bet for a new operator.
What technical specifications does your business require?
There’s no one perfect truck for every situation.
To choose the correct truck specification, consider the routes that the semi-truck will be used for.
Will it drive the flat areas or roll uphill of the mountains?
Based on the answer to these questions, you may consider the technical specifications that you may like to see on your future semi-truck such as:
- Transmission - while the industry continues to move toward automatic transmissions, experienced truckers may still prefer the feel of a manual gearbox. So, if you've been trained to drive a semi-truck on automatic transmission then go with it. But, if you are an experienced owner-operator who likes to have control over switching speeds, you may prefer to purchase a semi-truck manual transmission.
- Manufacturer - leading semi-truck manufacturers include Volvo, Freightliner, International, and Mack. Ask around for preferences, and you’ll find champions for them all.
- Horsepower and torque - horsepower measures the power of the engine, while torque measures the twisting force that determines how quickly you can take the rig from a full stop to full motion. Higher torque helps move smoothly up steep grades, while higher horsepower helps move those heavy loads at speed. Most of today’s semi-trucks put out between 400 and 600 foot pounds per minute and torque in the 1,450 to 2,000 pound-foot range. Choose to match your routes and loads.
- Average miles per gallon - This metric is a key consideration in buying your first semi-truck. To keep fuel costs down, look for a truck that offers the best average miles per gallon during operation. Of course, the engine, transmission, and fuel economy features in your rig are only part of the equation, but they’re an important part. Establish a goal for average MPGs and reject trucks that can’t match it. That could influence your decision on which model years to consider.
A semi-truck can look good from the exterior but its flaws can be uncovered during its inspection.
The inspection of the semi-truck should start with a test drive.
Check the tires
Tires are the major components of the semi-truck.
Their condition impacts the driver's and that other's safety.
Closely check the truck's tires for cracks or other defects. These defects show up the semi-truck tires have been improperly mounted or repaired, or when the tires are just old.
Take a look at the inside of the driver cabin
How many hours do you think you spend inside your truck cabin? The answer could easily be in the hundreds of thousands. Take the time to look at the cabin, feel the comfort of the seats, test the radio, look for storage space, and see how well you fit in the sleeping compartment. Make sure you will be comfortable and happy with your truck.
Conduct a thorough equipment inspection, including brake pads, hoses, axles, tire tread, and belts. You’ll also want to look for leaks and other potential problems.
Check how many miles the semi-truck will last
The normal lifespan of a semi-truck engine may last between 700,000 to 1 million miles before you start seeing mechanical issues.
The truck is that, with regular maintenance, you can increase the amount of miles the semi-truck lasts.