"What truck should I buy?" It's a great question before going owner operator. Unfortunately, there no easy answer. The first thing that you must consider is what you plan on doing with the truck? What will you haul and where will you run? How long will you keep it?
When I first started trucking I asked that same question to everyone, including good diesel mechanics. I will share with you what I learned from their answers and my experiences and some opinion of mechanics.
My basic response is that if you simply want to make the most money with the truck hauling regular freight, go Freightliner or International with Detroit or Cummings engine. Volvos would be next on my list with a Detroit, Cummings or Volvo Engine. This opinion is based on lower cost of entry and maintenance.
This basically comes down to philosophy. There are many ways to look at going each route. Two different people might feel very different about whether to buy a new or used 18 wheeler. You have to determine what makes you more comfortable based on your intentions for truck and other information you find out related to that.
A new truck will loose a
lot of value as soon as you take it off of the lot. You might think it
guarantees no break downs. Well that would be a wish not a guarantee.
Brand new trucks actually break down more than you might think.
lots of stuff might be covered if you break down but some stuff isn't.
Usually the power train is covered for a certain period of time or mileage. Make sure you find out what is and isn't covered with breakdowns and
you're OK with that. Also see if you can get a loaner or rental if your
new truck breaks down.
A new truck definitely lets you know ALL of the history with the truck. If you're going to get the truck, pay for it, keep it for a few years after it's paid for to get that extra value out of it. Go for it if that's your thing.
For a first truck though unless you've driven a few years already, I would say go slightly used. Maybe 2 years old.
If go used, also consider certain truck retain value better then others, which we will talk about later.
If like having a smaller bill to pay and possibly shorter term to pay it, a used truck is for you. Especially smart if you are new to trucking and it is your first truck better because you don't even know if you're going to love being a trucker or owner operator. With a cheaper truck you can get out sooner if need be. And also you might be able to get all of your money out of the truck as long as you get it at a good price.
A used truck can be just as profitable as a new truck and have you in the black sooner. Even with repairs. You pay less insurance and taxes. You might pay some money in repairs but your monthly expenses otherwise might be a lot lower. Especially after you replace/repair all of the wear and tear parts. (Don't forget a brand new truck also gets low fuel mileage until broken in!)
The trick is doing a thorough look over when choosing a used truck. Also don't over pay for that truck. I like getting a steal, not a deal. I buy with equity already in the truck.
Inspect everything and see if they will let you take it to get a Dyno. Be aware that many places won't. So there's that. Alternatively, you could just get an oil sample and have it tested. Most reputable dealers though are not trying to get over on you by selling you junk for a truck. Especially if they have a website and social media.
Also check the VIN number at www.rigdig.com to get history of that truck. Make sure it hasn't been in an accident or at least you know about the extent of damages and repairs. About that...... you can buy trucks that have cosmetic issues (ugly trucks) at a greatly reduced rate. You might get DOT inspected more often but just stay legal and you really can make higher profit margins with a lesser truck expense.
Many people will do this, stack their money and then buy a newer truck with cash later from the lot or an auction. This is a good idea if you're going to the oil fields to work too. You don't need a pretty truck in the oil fields, just a dependable one.
Even if you get a used truck just a year or two older, you save a lot of depreciation.
If you are worried about a warranty you can get an extended warranty on used trucks. Some companies like Ryder and Freightliner will have warranty on certain used trucks.
All truck manufacturers actually have entry level trucks these days in their product line. However, I still consider certain brands to go to for 1st time buyers.
I suggest Freightliner because those trucks are very popular. That means the parts can be found pretty much anywhere. So if you break down, it means lower down time and a cheaper price. Most shops are qualified to work on them. Sure people talk junk about Freightliner but pay attention to how many experienced owner operators choose them.
I've owned 2 Freightliners with Detroit 60 engines 12.7 liter. I have driven about 8 years in various Freightliners. I loved it and would buy another. (Just talked to my mechanic 3 weeks ago and asked about the 12.7 liter vs the 14 and he said he suggest getting the 12.7 any day but said the 14 liter is great too.)
I said international for the same reason. However, I have talked to drivers who had both Freightliner and international and many said they prefer the Freightliner for one reason or another. Many drivers and mechanics say stay away from PACCAR engines. I personally have no experience with one.
You can get both trucks with either Detroit engines or Cummings engines in them. My mechanic said he likes Cummings engines but Detroit would be his first choice. By the way, he works on FedEx fleet trucks so he does plenty of work.
Both of these companies have some very nice looking trucks that will even fit in the high end category. Both companies have many models and you will need to compare apples to apples when comparing against the two for price. (Same bunk space, horsepower, mileage (etc) for price)
Volvos - I drove Volvo for 5 years and I loved it. The turning ratio and the room inside the cab. First 2 had a Cummings. The first year was terrible with the auto transmission. The last year there were no problems. I drive Volvo now with their engine D13. No issues on 2012.
Volvos and Macks are as different as Chevy and GMC. Macks are marketed as Heavy Duty. Volvo is more marketed as comfort and luxury.
I loved my Volvo and would buy one with Cummings or Detroit or Volvo. Volvo to me has the most trucks that straddle the fence of entry and luxury and have truck that goes comfortably in both category.
Peterbilts and Kenworth - Both of these trucks are the luxury of trucks. Peterbilt is slightly higher cost and KW might be higher resale value depending on the truck model and market. Some Petes might resale higher. It's like Lexus and Mercedes. Mercedes is Petes and KW are like Lexus.
Western Star Trucks - These trucks were built by hand one at a time. You ordered them the way you want them. Obviously, they are high quality and more expensive. They are like the Apple of Truck, lol. or using a car analogy maybe the Bently. Although the same people that owns freightliner owns Western Star
I don't recommend you higher end trucks as your first truck but to each his/her own.
They do have a higher resale value than the lower cost brands last I checked but you need to check at the time you are able to going to buy.
I have bought two used trucks. One truck had well over 1,000,000 with a rebuilt 12.7 Detroit engine 400hp. I had to buy a transmission within the first 3 months. Had to do a lot of other work as well in the first year. It was a 92' FLD120 Frieghtliner.
The other truck was used as well. It was a Freightliner Midroof with about 800,000 (I think) on a Detroit 12.7 430 engine. Never rebuilt that I know of.
I will buy a used truck again but that is me.
When buying used, you have to be mentally prepared to expect that you might break down and need to spend money on parts. This is how I look at it though, once you get those part replaced, you no longer have to worry about that part again.
The benefit of buying used is that you will have lower or no payment and lower taxes. Also no monthly payment sooner than with a new truck.
I like Detroit and Cummings simply because you get more for your money and it is easier to find parts.
Other people like CAT. Some claim they are better quality or pull harder. The parts are not as abundant as Detroit and Cummings so it costs more and could have you sitting longer for repairs.
Glider kits are a great way to get a newer truck with an older engine that doesn't have the to meet new engine emissions requirements. These truck will have rebuilt engines often warranted. You can also buy glider kits with just the body and you get your own engine put in it.
Fitzgerald Glider kits is one of the best places to get Glider Kits or learn More info about them.
At the end of the day, you have to determine what truck you want based on your goals and personal desires. Take into account the info and perspective I have provided but also ask questions to mechanics and other owner operators.
It might help to talk to a mechanic. I already did that for you Dec. 2016. I have interviewed him as well on video but that is a few years old. He gave pretty much the same advice though.
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