Tips For Buying Your First Truck as an Owner Operator
Buying a semi-truck is a huge investment and a wonderful decision but as a driver and business owner it is smart to do as much research as possible. Becoming an Owner Operator is a liberating experience but comes with a lot of decisions that could affect your future for years to come. The following tips will help you navigate the process of buying your first semi-truck to become an Owner Operator.
Buying New or Used – First decide whether you will buy or lease a truck from a dealership. If you have the cash and buy private party make sure you get a complete inspection by a trusted diesel mechanic. If you buy a brand new truck try to get a complete warranty that covers the truck’s most important parts. Research engine types in trucks and the most reliable manufactured engines/years of engines. There are some years of engines that are better than others so don’t get stuck with a lemon.
Fuel Economy – Most brand new Owner Operators are dead set on one particular truck – a long nose Petebilt or a Kenworth with rugged appeal. This can be a complete mistake because some of these types of trucks do not necessarily get the best fuel economy. Think about what will make you the most money with the least amount of money. You want a truck that gets at least 6-7mph – the better fuel economy will pay off in the long run.
Dream Truck vs Work Truck – If you are unable to get financed for your dream truck but get approved for a similar truck that will make you the same amount of money – it might be wise to get into that truck, build your credit and work towards your dream truck. Some drivers make the mistake of going big right out of the gate and end up failing because they can’t keep up with the truck payments. Be wise!
Down Payment – Some drivers want to get into a truck for little to nothing down. Just like buying a house, buying a semi-truck is a investment. You are investing in your career, family and yourself – don’t cheap yourself and get into something with high payments. You want your truck payment to be around $1500 a month. Make sure you get a loan where you can make extra payments without penalty. If you do a lease through a dealership make sure there is not a large balloon payment at the end of the contract.
What are you hauling? – Don’t buy a heavy haul quad axle truck if you are going to be hauling a reefer. If you are buying a truck to haul flatbed freight make sure it has the right setup. Some oil field semi-trucks could be sold off at a cheaper price which can be appealing but make sure it isn’t too heavy to scale legally. Don’t buy unnecessary equipment or flashy chrome for a truck that is meant to make you money.
Get a good mechanic and accountant- As a business owner; you need a good mechanic and a good accountant to help run your business efficiently. The first year in business might be overwhelming or confusing so partnering with professionals that you trust will make your life a little easier. Being an Owner Operator is very rewarding but is also full of challenges so be prepared.