Buying your first semi-truck? 5 things to consider

July 27, 2020

A row of semi-trucks in a used truck lot

If you’re a new owner-operator buying your first semi-truck, you may be thinking, "What is the best semi-truck for my business?"

It is a loaded question. Every owner-operator has different needs, is in a different financial situation and is looking for something different. All these will play a factor in you answering that question.

Although we cannot flat-out tell you what truck to buy, we can provide a list of things you should consider in order to purchase the best semi-truck for your business.

Things to consider when buying your first semi-truck

1. Do you want to buy new or used?

One of the biggest decisions when buying your first semi-truck is determining whether you want to buy a new or a used truck. How much money you have saved, what you can afford to pay each month and how much risk you are willing to take on with potential repairs will play a factor in choosing new or used.

Buying a brand-new truck has its advantages, like being covered by a warranty and having less risk of needing repairs. However, the truck will probably cost more upfront and lose significant value as soon as it is driven off the lot.

Purchasing a used truck, from a place like Schneider Trucks, will cost less upfront and the payments will most likely be smaller each month than a new truck’s would be. However, a used truck may require some repairs sooner and the warranty usually expires earlier and does not cover as much.

2. Do you need a day cab or a truck with a sleeper?

What type of owner-operator you are will determine if you need a day cab or a sleeper cab.

If you move mostly short-haul freight and get home every night, why spend more on a sleeper cab when a day cab would work just fine? On the other hand, if you are a long-haul owner-operator, a sleeper cab is almost certainly a must.

3. Do you prefer a manual or automated manual transmission?

What type of transmission you want will most likely have a big influence when determining what the best semi-truck to buy for your business is. Most drivers have a strong opinion as to whether they prefer an automated manual or manual transmission.

Automated manual transmissions are typically more efficient and easier to use, but some drivers still prefer manuals.

4. Are you set on a specific make of truck?

Some owner-operators know exactly what make and model of truck they want and would never buy a truck that’s another, and that’s OK.

If you have no idea what make is right for your business, we encourage you to talk to other owner-operators about what makes and models they’ve had success with and ones they have not. Doing research on truck manufacturers’ websites is a great way to see what features and specs some trucks have that others don’t.

Viewing the inventory pages on truck providers such as Schneider Trucks can also provide great insights on truck features and options.

5. Is there one thing your truck must have?

The most important thing your truck must have is different for all owner-operators. Before you start truck shopping, consider making a list of all the things your truck absolutely cannot go without.

Some of the most common things owner-operators find to be most important, include:

  • The way the truck handles.
  • What the truck looks like.
  • How the truck rides.
  • The MPG of the truck.
  • How much the truck costs.