What It Really Costs to Own a Commercial Truck
Truckers often dream of the day when they can purchase their own Class 8 and become independent contractors or better, owner-operators. However, commercial vehicles are not cheap, which is why many truckers continue to lease vehicles from their employers. In fact, trucks cost much more than their initial asking price, but the advantages to ownership are not insignificant. If you are struggling to decide whether you should invest in your own commercial rig, here are some facts and figures to consider.
Obviously, what you initially pay for your shiny new (or used) truck depends on a few variables. Your desired make and model will influence a seller’s asking price, as will the age of the vehicle and its amount of wear and tear. Almost every trucker has a distinct preference for one style of big rig over all others, and though it is wise to buy the cab you are comfortable in, you might end up paying more for certain brands. For example, Peterbilt and Volvo have reputations for luxurious trucking, whereas Mack trucks are highly regarded for their enduring toughness on the road.
Additionally, individual sellers could have vastly different prices on identical trucks. Because vehicle sales remain somewhat negotiable, unscrupulous dealers will often inflate their prices to profit as much as they can from individual sales. Finding a vendor you can trust is crucial to securing a reliable, affordable price on the truck you need.
Essentially, you should expect to pay over $100,000 for your first commercial vehicle. On average, a brand-new day cab costs about $113,000 and a sleeper will set you back about $125,000. On top of this, new trailers usually add an extra $50,000 as long as you are looking for a standard rig; specialty trucks like loggers or long-combinations will certainly cost more. Already, these numbers may seem huge, but actually, the purchase price of a truck is only a fraction of the total costs of owning a commercial vehicle.
Every new car buyer must know that purchasing the car is just the beginning of car-related payments, and that fact is even more true with commercial trucks. Estimates suggest that a big rig costs about $180,000 to operate for a single year or $1.38 per mile on the road and that does not include the initial asking price. Independent contractors and owner-operators must be able to budget for serious recurring expenses, such as:
- Fuel is the largest operating cost for truckers. While the average four-wheeler will consume around 500 gallons of gasoline every year, your 18-wheeler drinks at least 41 times that, which is easily more than $70,000 annually.
- Truck repair is another significant expense. A driver’s worst nightmare is seeing smoke, and all those hours on the road will eventually put your truck in the shop. Regular maintenance adds up to roughly $15,000 per year.
- Insurance is a mandatory expense. Fortunately, truck insurance can be surprisingly affordable. For $6,500 yearly, you can protect your investment as well as your client’s goods from dangerous accidents.
- Licenses, permits, and tolls are often forgotten expenses. Truckers need special licenses and permits to operate their equipment, and tolls on roads throughout the U.S. will add up fast.
Admittedly, it is difficult to read these numbers, add them up, and still be eager to buy a commercial vehicle of your own. However, the benefits of owning your own truck certainly make up for the expenses.
As with homes, cars, furniture, clothes, and any other rentable commodity, ownership is ideal. By purchasing a truck of your own, you are investing in yourself, allowing you to build worth and increase your profitability.
Leasing may be a good option for companies or drivers that do not expect to remain in the transportation business for long, but if you love the industry and want to stay, owning a truck will allow you to be financially independent in the field. Plus, contractors usually earn higher wages than standard transportation employees, so the costs of the ownership will seem less when compared to your increased income.
Large motor carriers are equipped to handle the expenses of truck ownership, but that doesn’t mean individuals are incapable of gaining independence by buying their own big rigs. Though the numbers are daunting, the possibilities from owning your commercial vehicle are outstanding. Still, as you shop for your first big rig, you should keep the lifetime costs in mind, so you won’t end up buying more truck than you can afford.
© 2016, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.