Sunday, November 10, 2013

Buy A New Truck And Beat The Old Timers At Their Own Game

New owner operators can get in and scoop up California freight while the majority of existing owners cling to older equipment.  I have a 2007 Freightliner that is in excellent condition along with many other drivers that are in my same position.  We buy these trucks because we want to use them until the wheels fall off.  We maintain them meticulously and make sure they last a long time.  Ideally, you want to buy a new truck and run it for ten years or more.  At the million mile mark, you consider an in-frame rebuild and try to put another million miles on the truck.  You change out shocks, bearings, and maybe some wiring, but you keep the maintenance up and a good truck owner can keep a new truck running for well into 1.5 million miles with no catastrophic failures.
Our truck has 600K miles on it and everything under the hood is original except the head on the engine, the starter, and the A/C compressor.  The engine head could have been saved from being replaced, but that is how it happened.  It was a warranty item so it didn’t cost me anything to replace.  The starter had 600K miles on it and the A/C compressor, well, those go out with constant use, but the first one that was original on the truck reached 421K miles until it failed. 

With the California regulations coming to into full effect in January for everyone who doesn't have a DPF installed on their truck, many operators are forced to buy new equipment.  If you are new to the game, you are at an advantage because you don’t have to salvage an old truck or worry about resale.  You can buy a compliant truck and frequent the ports in California or anywhere in the state for that matter and be compliant.  There are some trade-offs though in that the older trucks don’t use DEF or have to have a DPF cleaned every year.  These trucks with the latest environmental technology have higher upfront costs and higher DPF maintenance costs as well. 

The bottom line is that if you go buy a new truck at least 2010 or later, you can capitalize on the new environment of 2014.


Ed said...

Ed, didn't I read that california is going to relax some of the rules to if you travel less than 10K miles inside cali that you won't have to abide by the new regs..
I thought I read that cause they were afraid of chaos with the system being to heavy handed.

Ed said...

That is still up for debate. They wont change the rules until it hits their pocketbooks. We wont know until next year. There was a proposal to allow people to drive 5000 miles in the state per year, but the actual law said that 5000 miles was the total miles the vehicle could travel anywhere per year.

Claire Reynolds said...

My husband is looking at International trucks. My questions is whether it is better to buy new or a truck that is just a couple of years old. Are there more benefits to one than the other? These are the trucks he was looking at.

Claire Reynolds ||

Ed said...

The new trucks come with a complete warranty and the latest technology. This is important because the new emissions regulations are creating new untested technology that is being put on the market so that the manufacturers can see what works and what doesn't. The warranty is very important.

However with the used truck, you don't know what the original owner did with the truck. Did they run it without changing the oil? Did they neglect the greasing and required maintenance? Did they overload the drive axles and damage the bearings? Or did they do everything right and treat the truck like royalty? It really depends on what condition the used truck is in. If I was going to buy used, I'd look into the forums online and talk to existing owners of the model you are considering and find out what kinds of problems they have had.

I would do an in depth inspection of the truck's frame, bearings, seals, and all accessories. I would take it to a place that has a dyno and get a dyno read out of the truck's engine and drivetrain power. I would spend a lot of time inspecting the truck. Pull oil samples from the engine, transmission, and the differentials. Get all records of maintenance that you can. Finally, test drive the truck on the highway. Listen for noises and feel the way the truck behaves on the road.

Price wise, the new truck is obviously more expensive, but maintenance is less. The used truck will have more maintenance costs and some folks don't like doing the extra work. The used truck requires someone who is more mechanically inclined. It needs more attention to minor issues that crop up so that they don't become major issues that destroy the equipment.

For example, I recently bought a used trailer which had an air leak. It wasn't a problem that would cause me to fail an inspection, but it was bad enough to cause the air compressor to run more than it should have. This caused the air dryer to become full of water and then caused the air system to become contaminated with water. This happened slowly over an 8 month period and the first symptom I had was that the air dryer started to make noises. I caught it in time to stop any permanent damage, drained the air tanks, replaced the air dryer, and it only cost $500.00 vs. a $10,000 bill that would have resulted from not addressing the issue. This is also the typical thing that could have happened to a used truck which you will never know about from the used truck dealership. So any warranty they offer is great!