Imagine the freedom and career fulfillment you can achieve living life on your terms as an owner-operator trucker. If you’re a CDL driver, to achieve the dreams of starting your own trucking business, you‘ll need an affordable truck first. Most new semi trucks are expensive, but just like your first car, you can buy used semi trucks. Let’s look at how much a semi-truck can cost and how to choose the right used big rig so you can get started as an owner-operator today.
What Is a Used Semi Truck?
A used semi truck is any semi that has been previously owned. Though there are a wide range of options for used semi trucks, all of these trucks have their varied history. Used trucks can be retired from large or small fleets and owner-operators. Not all used semi trucks are going to be in the same working condition due to weathering various environments where they may have been subject to varying degrees of wear or subpar maintenance.
Used semi trucks have a wide range of prices based on the age and condition of the vehicle. On average, you can expect prices in this range
- Low End: $35,000
- Mid Market: $100,000
- High End: $180,000+
Pros & Cons of a Used Semi Truck
When deciding whether or not a used semi is for you, consider the pros and cons of purchasing one of these previously owned commercial vehicles.
Pros of a Used Semi Truck
- Price: Used semi trucks are almost always less expensive than new options, just make sure the price isn’t too good to be true and going to cost you in maintenance, fuel economy, or replacement parts.
- Convenience: Finding the right truck is difficult, but there are a wider array of durable options available for used semis.
- Value: Gently-used trucks can comparatively be of a similar quality to new trucks, and you can get a significant discount for buying used ones.
- Quality of Older Trucks: Many older semi-truck models are powerful and built to last, even when compared to newer models, possibly being even more physically duable.
- Lower Depreciation: The moment you drive a vehicle off the lot, it decreases in value, because of this used semi trucks don’t depreciate at the same rate because their value is inherent.
Cons of a Used Semi Truck
- Financing: It can be more challenging to finance a used truck, especially if it is more than ten years old or has more than 700,000 miles. Conversely, many dealers selling new semi trucks offer “buy here pay here” options.
- Previous Wear: You can never be sure of all the places your semi has been or how well it was treated by its previous owner, maintenance receipts can always be forged.
- Repair Costs: Older trucks are more likely to break down and need more maintenance.
- Fuel Efficiency: Newer model trucks tend to be more fuel efficient than older models, make sure your truck follows federal pollution mandates
- Warranty: Used trucks often have no warranty or a limited warranty, check this before you leave the lot.
How to Shop for a Used Semi Truck
Looking for the right used semi truck for you? Follow these steps to buy a used semi truck.
Look at Average Semi Truck Prices in Your Area
Semi truck prices vary widely based on where you live. As each region has a unique set of companies and owner-operators looking to sell used semis, researching the average prices where you live can prepare for what you should expect to pay. No matter where you live, you want to purchase your used semi-truck from a reputable dealer.
Arrange for Financing or Start Saving Cash
Financing a used semi truck can be more complicated than buying a new one. Lenders typically view a used semi as a less secure investment and are more hesitant about giving loans. Therefore, getting pre-approved and arranging the logistics with your bank before purchasing is essential. If you think you will need to pay in cash, start saving as soon as possible.
Shop for the Right Semi Truck
When looking for a truck, you want to ensure it will suit your needs and meet your expectations. Therefore, it’s best to consider what types of semi trucks you’re interested in and research before committing.
Here are some essential factors you should keep in mind when making your decision:
- Age: A semi truck’s useful working life is around 15 years. Trucks older than this are far more likely to cause you problems down the road.
- Mileage: Commercial trucks travel far more miles than passenger vehicles, but a high mileage can indicate necessary repairs on the horizon. For example, a semi-truck usually needs an engine rebuild after 700,000 miles.
- Service Record: You can’t be sure of everything a used semi truck has been through, but you can learn a lot about previous issues through its service record and prepare for future repairs. A detailed service record can also indicate a well-maintained truck.
- Average Fuel Costs: Older semi trucks are typically less fuel efficient than newer models. Investigate the vehicle’s fuel efficiency to avoid surprise fuel costs on the road.
- Insurance Costs: Owning a truck involves many expenses. Consider how much the used semi you want to buy will cost you in insurance every year.
- Maintenance Costs: Vehicle maintenance is another expense to consider. Since older trucks need more upkeep, you want to select a quality used-semi truck.
Meet the Owner and Ask for a Test Drive
Just like any other vehicle, you should try it before you buy. Meet the owner, inspect the vehicle, and take it for a test drive. A used semi truck is a considerable investment, and you want to ensure that you make the best decision.
Negotiate or Walk Away From Bad Deals
While the prospect of owning your own semi-truck is exciting, you should never buy one “just because.” If you think you’re getting a bad deal, try negotiating or walk away. It is also a major red flag if you cannot access the vehicle’s maintenance logs, as the dealer could be hiding something critical. Remember, there are plenty of other eligible trucks for you to buy.
Buying a Used Semi Truck
Are you ready to take the leap and purchase a used semi truck? A used semi can help you get started as an owner-operator or expand your fleet for a much smaller upfront investment than buying new. With an average cost of $35,000 to $180,000, there’s a used semi at every price point that will get you on the road and carrying loads.
The hourly cost of owning a semi ranges from $22 to $350 per hour.
New Hampshire is the cheapest state to purchase a semi-truck due to low registration fees and sales tax.
There are a few makers of reliable semi trucks – Freightliner, Peterbilt, Kenworth, Mack, and Volvo.
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