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Is Buying an 18-Wheeler a Good Investment?

Like any investment, profitability comes in time. It might be scary to buy an expensive item because you’re taking a chance on something that may or may not work out, but purchasing an 18-wheeler outright and in full can result in big long-term payoffs. 

There are many steps you can take to better your odds of having an investment that pays off, and today, we’re going to take a closer look at them. Depending on the size of your potential down payment, there are also different avenues you may want to take to minimize your interest and maximize the profits of your owner-operator semi truck company. 

Ultimately, if you have a solid plan and you’re willing to put in a good amount of hours, buying an 18-wheeler can be a very good investment. 

How Does Financing an 18-Wheeler Work?

Financing an 18-wheeler, like financing anything, requires that you pay set dollar amounts over agreed-upon increments of time. For most people, financing entails monthly payments, just like those for a car or a mortgage. 

However, unlike financing anything else, an 18-wheeler is a purchase you make for your business, not for enjoyment or transportation purposes. As such, the purpose creates slight differences. Proving to a potential lender that you have a plan to use the truck to make money immediately can be a good mark on your financing application, as is an extended credit history of ten years or more. 

Is It Worth Buying Your Own Semi Truck?

It really depends on what you are looking to get out of your semi truck driving job. If you want to be on the road for as many hours as the laws allow, you can make this purchase worthwhile quite quickly. 

However, many drivers would argue that there is just too much overhead to earn back, and as such, they recommend that people just drive for someone else. Ultimately, it all comes down to weighing the pros and the cons. 

Is It Hard to Finance a Semi Truck?

Like any large purchase, whether or not financing is hard will be pretty dependent on your credit. If your credit score is decent, meaning more than 600, and you have a stellar business plan, there are several options for financing an 18-wheeler. 

Depending on where you plan to operate your business, you may also benefit from financing in certain states over others, and it’s something you should look into before you start applying for semi truck financing.

How Much Money Can You Make Owning an 18-Wheeler?

Owner-operators in the United States generally make well over $100,000 per year. However, keep in mind that this doesn’t mean you will take that much money home with you on a yearly basis. You’ll need to pay for the maintenance of your rig, as well as insurance, fuel, lodging, loans, and other business-related expenses. 

These costs can sometimes scare potential owner-operators away from starting due to the fear of inconsistent income. However, there are companies that hire owner-operators to complete work for them, which offers a consistent flow of work to help you feel at ease about covering your expenses. 

With a steady flow of work and a paid-off rig, some truck drivers bring home more than $150,000 per year. And that’s after they pay their truck-related expenses! 

How Much Does an 18-Wheeler Semi Truck Cost?

If you’re nervous about making a large investment, many recommend buying a used truck as your first 18-wheeler. Like any purchase, you get what you pay for, and being cheap with your future business is not a great move, but sometimes, it is a necessary step to get the ball rolling. 

New trucks, of course, come with better warranties, and they are generally safer bets when you want to avoid frequent maintenance-related issues. However, they come with much more expensive price tags, generally costing around $150,000 each. Used semi trucks usually cost somewhere between $50,000 and $100,000.

How Long Does a Semi Truck Last?

Most owner-operator semi truck drivers run their rig between 50,000 miles and 100,000 miles, the latter being more typical of long-haul drivers. That’s a lot of mileage for a normal vehicle, but well-maintained semi trucks can last for upwards of 750,000 miles, with some going well into the millions. That often comes with some good fortune, though. Don’t expect this. 

With a regular driving schedule, a new truck can last you more than 15 years, and even with a long-haul rig, you can expect to use your equipment for at least 10 years. 

Things to Consider with Buying an 18-Wheeler

Before investigating the quality of the semi truck rig, you need to evaluate your trucking needs when deciding whether or not to become an owner-operator. Here are some things to look at when buying an 18-wheeler. 

Purchase From a Reputable Company

If you’re purchasing a semi truck with the intention of using the truck as a way to make a living, shortcuts aren’t the way to go. There are certainly a few stories in which someone finds a magical deal from someone along Route 66 and it ends up saving them tens of thousands of dollars, but keep in mind that it’s common for these deals to go wrong. 

Pick a reputable company to buy or lease your truck from, whether you’re buying new or used. Just like daily drivers, used semi truck sales companies are aplenty, but they all vary in terms of what they offer. Look for those who have certified vehicles, as well as those who offer warranties, as this is proof that they trust their products. 

Set a Budget

Perhaps the most important factor when deciding if you should buy an 18-wheeler and become an owner-operator is your budget. You need to be realistic. Consider your potential earnings, and remember that there are several costly factors that come with owning your own rig. Fuel and insurance are only the beginning. 

Some 18-wheelers have pretty fancy cabins that can let you ride in style… But is that necessary for your business in the early years? Perhaps it is, but perhaps it isn’t. Creating a budget will let you know if you can afford these additional luxuries and help you figure out if used or new is the best decision for you.

Get a Warranty

This is a no-brainer. If you’re offered a truck with no warranty, look elsewhere. This is going to be your livelihood, and you need a safety net. If a truck doesn’t come with a warranty of any kind, it’s a deal that’s too good to be true. 

Understand Cost Per Mile

Cost per mile is the granular level you need to look at in order to properly understand how much of your income is actually going into your pocket as opposed to how much is going towards business-related expenses. 

When you determine your exact cost per mile including fuel, maintenance, and other payments, you can take the next step in your business plan. From there, you can determine how often you will need to drive in order to take home your desired amount of money after expenses. 

Buying vs Leasing an 18-Wheeler

The major difference is the level of commitment, and here are some pros and cons of buying vs leasing an 18-wheeler:


  • Little to no money on down payment
  • Shorter commitment 
  • Opportunity to end agreement when you want to
  • Lower financial risk
  • Easier to upgrade your rig


  • Paying more if you do go from lease to buy
  • Not technically owned by you for a while
  • Must be wary of agreements

If you’re mentally set on being in business for a long time, buying is the way to go.

Is it Time to Buy Your First 18-Wheeler?

Owner-operatorship comes with a lot of pride and a lot of potential for earnings, but with any major decision, there are some things to be wary of. You must heavily weigh your future before making an investment in an 18-wheeler, but if you’re sure that trucking is your calling, you can make a lot more money in the long run by owning your rig outright. 

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