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How Much Does a Semi Truck Cost? 2021 Guide

If you have experience driving semi trucks and are looking to start your own transportation company, you’re most likely looking for a truck of your own.

The price of a commercial truck varies widely depending on the manufacturer, model, and whether you’re buying new or used. Knowing what to look for and what to expect for the price tag is vital if you want to make an informed purchase.

Semi Trucks Lined Up
Image from: https://pixabay.com/photos/truck-semi-transportation-3401529/

How Much Does a Semi Truck Cost?

Semi truck prices vary significantly depending on make, model, age, provenance, features, and optional extras. Here are some rough estimates of what you can expect a new or used semi truck to cost:

Semi truck cost comparison table

How Much is a Semi Truck: Buying New or Used

When shopping for a used or new semi truck or commercial vehicle, there are more factors to consider than the price, such as options, features, gas mileage, reliability, and other elements that can affect your new investment’s Real Cost of Ownership (RCO).

Pros of Buying New
Buying a new vehicle is about peace of mind. New trucks have a much lower risk of breaking down soon after purchase. If a breakdown occurs, your new semi truck typically comes with a full powertrain warranty that covers any issues with your engine, transmission, driveshaft, axles, differential, and other parts.

Buying new means being able to choose from any manufacturer’s full range of latest-year models, specs, and options, enabling you to customize your rig to your specifications to suit your business.

For example, a manufacturer may offer various day cabs (for daytime transportation) and sleeper trucks (with a rear bedroom compartment for long-haul jobs), each with different engines, transmissions, interior features (especially for sleeper trucks), and other options.

Cons of Buying New
While a new rig is reliable and can be customized to your exact needs, the primary disadvantage is the cost.

Unless you can afford to buy your new truck outright, you will need to factor monthly payments into your expenses until you have paid for your new investment in full. These costs can potentially match or surpass a new company’s revenue.

Another factor to keep in mind is environmental regulations. All trucks operating in the United States must abide by federal emission laws, as outlined by the Environmental Protection Agency. New engines feature technologies that comply with the latest emissions laws, making them more complex and challenging to repair and maintain.

Pros of Buying Used
The lower asking price of a used truck is less challenging for a new company to pay off. This relieves the financial pressure on new companies that are just starting to build a client list and have irregular cash flow.

If you’re wondering how much do semi trucks cost on the used market, the asking price for an older, low-end model may be as low as $35,000, less than half of what you’d expect to pay for a new truck.

Cons of Buying Used
The older the rig is, the more likely it is to have reliability issues. Even if it has been properly maintained and cared for, a used rig always comes with a certain degree of wear and tear, resulting in decreased performance, low gas mileage, or increased maintenance costs.

In addition, used trucks come as-is, with the configuration and specs their original owners selected when they rolled out of the factory. These specifications may not always match your needs, especially if you have precise requirements, such as a specific engine and transmission, in mind.

Yellow & White Semi Truck
Image from: https://pixabay.com/photos/truck-semi-truck-semi-truck-desert-1499377/

How to Search for a New Truck

If you’re in the market for a semi truck, the first step is to research dealers available in your area.

Next, establish the specifications you need for your truck, look for vehicle models that match your needs, and write down a list of options.

If you’re primarily looking for used trucks, run VIN checks and look up as much data as possible, including mileage, maintenance history, ECM report, and engine inspection reports.

If you can’t find the information yourself, contact the dealership and ask them for it. If the dealer can’t answer your questions or is unwilling to answer them, the truck may have significant issues they are trying to conceal. Steer clear and move on to the next one on your list.

Semi Truck Pricing: Payment Plans and Alternatives

For most owner-operators, the solution is to spread the payment in monthly installments, only becoming the owner when the truck has been paid in full, several months or years down the line.

How much does a semi truck cost you every month? The answer depends on your credit score and annual income, as well as the loan term. An average credit score could mean a higher interest rate on the loan. A longer loan term means lower monthly installments, but you pay more in interest over the life of the loan.

If you’re unsure whether you’ll be in the business five years from now, this type of commitment may not be worth it from a financial perspective. Fortunately, there are alternatives for the short- and medium-term: renting and leasing plans.

Renting
Renting lets you drive a vehicle owned by a rental company for a duration of 6 to 12 months, often requiring little more than one month of upfront deposit.

However, this solution is only viable in the short term, as rental costs can quickly add up ($175 to $215 a day on average), and very few companies offer ways for you to buy the loaner truck at the end of your rental period.

Leasing
Leasing plans are similar to renting, but the contract varies between 2 and 5 years and allows you to build equity over time, requiring a long-term commitment.

Monthly payments are much lower ($800 to $2,500 per month, depending on the vehicle), and once you reach the end of the leasing contract, you have an opportunity to buy the truck.

Most leasing contracts also come with a maintenance plan (the owners take care of all maintenance costs).

How to Finance a Semi Truck

After you’ve determined which truck model you need, research lenders like banks, credit unions, or even your used truck dealer for the best financing options. Will they cover your specific model? Do they impose maximum vehicle age or mileage requirements? Are they willing to cover multiple vehicles if needed? Do they offer fast approvals?

Don’t forget that you’ll need cash for the initial down payment. For example, a 15% down payment on a $120,000 used truck would be $18,000, which does not include taxes or other fees. Some lenders offer no-money-down plans, but they often have higher interest and repayments and require good credit. Also, a longer-term loan may have lower monthly installments, but you will pay more in interest over the life of the loan. 

Once you’ve found a lender and a plan that satisfies your needs and meets your budget, contact them to begin the application process. Although every lender has different requirements, you should expect to provide them with the following details and information:

  • Your business’ type and annual revenue
  • Your credit score
  • How long you’ve been in the CDL business (licensing, job history, etc.)
  • Your vehicle’s make, model, age, and mileage

Protect Your New Truck With Durabak

A semi truck is a long-term business investment that you should care for and protect from damage. Changing road conditions and harsh weather can accelerate your truck’s wear and tear, eventually ruining the paint job, and potentially compromising the undercarriage and engine components.

If you’re just starting out as an owner-operator, chances are you might not have a garage that can fit a semi-truck, meaning that your new vehicle may have to remain outside, exposed to the elements 24/7.

When it’s time to hit the road, your truck may face harsh road conditions, such as snow, sand, dirt, flying debris, rock chips, and more, all of which can ruin your paint job and dent your truck’s bodywork.

With Durabak-18 truck liner, you can give your truck a protective layer with a fresh coat of polyurethane paint to minimize damage to your bodywork from moisture and debris. Durabak-18 is easy to apply, easy to maintain with soap and water, and does not chip, peel, or lose its integrity over time.

Hauling goods on your semi truck flatbed can cause scratches and dents that can lead to rust. Protect your truck bed from shifting pallets and items with Durabak. The textured variety contains recycled rubber tire granules to provide a high grip surface, minimizing item slippage while creating a protective barrier against damage.

Frequent & Popular Semi Truck Questions

How much money can you make owning a semi truck?
The average yearly salary of an owner-operator truck driver in the United States is approximately $199,000 (or roughly $96 per hour). However, the actual salary may vary significantly depending on the business, location, overhead costs, and other factors.

Can I buy a Tesla semi? How much does a Tesla semi truck cost?
Tesla announced their all-electric Semi truck in 2017, with an MSRP of $150,000 for the base 300-mile range truck and $180,000 for the 500-mile model. However, as of August 2021, they are not yet available and are not expected to hit the market until 2022.

How much does a semi truck cost for a new model?
Some of the most popular semi truck manufacturers in 2021 are Freightliner, Peterbilt, Volvo, Navistar/International, Mack, and Kenworth. New 2021 and 2022 models from these companies cost $125,000 to $150,000 on average.

 

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