For some, the pull of the open road starts early, tugging at them while they’re still kids with the “come hither” appeal of a particularly attractive member of the opposite sex, and millions have answered that call. For thousands of drivers, driving for the company isn’t nearly enough, and they want the full experience of being in business for themselves. However, many would-be owner-operators have to face the harsh reality that financial skeletons in their closets have put their dream out of reach until their credit situation improves.
Recognizing the demand for a viable alternative, many trucking companies have put together lease purchase, lease option, and drive-to-own opportunities for drivers unable to pursue their dreams through more traditional financing sources.
The question is: Does leasing a truck from a carrier ever make financial sense for the driver — or should you avoid all of them like the plague?
The answer to that question depends upon your individual circumstances — and whose message you choose to believe.
From the carrier’s perspective, leasing a truck makes perfect sense for those drivers who are credit-challenged or have a lack of down payment money and other start-up costs.
Carriers have heavily marketed lease opportunities to would-drivers as a short-term path to truck ownership, and thousands of drivers have taken the bait. While the terms vary from carrier to carrier, carriers claim that leases benefit drivers in a variety of ways, including:
- Low Down Payments (in some cases — no down payment)
- Low deposits
- No long-term commitment
- Opportunity to drive up-spec equipment
- Pride of Ownership
- Relaxed credit standards (in some cases no credit checks)
- Lease completion incentives (cash back, lease buy-outs, etc.)
This gives lease operators the chance to experience first-hand the perks of ownership, while limiting their financial risk. Many carriers advertise their leases as being “walk-away” leases, meaning that the driver can simply walk away from their lease obligation if for some reason things don’t work out.
Driver Advocacy Groups
Driver advocacy groups have a different take on carrier-sponsored semi truck lease opportunities. Some, such as the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) have successfully filed class-action lawsuits on behalf of drivers who have fallen prey to unfair or illegal carrier leasing practices.
In recent years [click to continue…]