How to Buy a Semi Truck with No Dealers and No Credit

Featured Forum Topics Owning a Trucking Business

On the forum, an owner-operator team discusses how they purchased their semi trucks:

His first time getting his Own Truck, was finding someone in our area that had a for sale sign on it.
An Owner Operator in the next town had a 79 KW900 for Sale sign on it. This was back in 1985,. He approached the guy and since they were both truck drivers, he asked the guy if he could make payments on it. The guy needed to get rid of it due to a divorce , and said Yes!
They both went to the bank were the guy had it financed and the bank drew up a third party contract for them. $700 dollars a month., that he would take over the payments. The contract was written , after the full payment was made , the truck goes in my husbands name.
The Second time was easier,,,, when he wanted another truck, he did the same thing. Approached a Local Owner Operator who was selling his truck.
Well my husband was working for a Straight Broker, hauling produce. He asked the guy if he could make payments on the truck, cause he already has the work for it. He gave him 1,200 dollar down payment.
The guy made up his own contract.
We got about 3 or 4 more trucks afterwards., by the same method. A Volvo, International, and 2 Peterbuilts. His last one now is a Red 379 Peterbuilt. And he used his previous sellers as references.
As Long as you find someone LOCAL, there shouldn’t be a problem asking to make payments.
Many Owner Operators will advertise in your local paper , selling their truck for a specific amount.
It doesn’t hurt, asking them if you can make payments on it.
The reason to stay Local, is, if you stop making payments, he can come take his truck back.
This a Reasurrance for the Seller.

Forget all that Heavy Finance charge from a dealer.
But you don’t get a Warranty buying a truck this way.
So make sure, you check out a Truck Completely !
Before Buying. Know what you’re buying! Tires and all!
And it’s that easy. And all trucks were fully paid within a year or two.
By the way, we did this, to get trailers too.

Some dealers are shady!
You pay much more on a truck with higher payments, along with extra finance charges.

You may be getting one of these fleece trucks, in which this truck has been through many hands. That means, when a truck has gone through many hands, that truck has been beaten to the ground.

We ended up getting two more trucks, and placed drivers in it.

Some company drivers don’t give a hoot on maintaining the truck.
Why? Because it’s not their truck.
They didn’t care about checking the oil or water and so forth. We had one truck sitting in the middle of the country with a blown engine.. because of their negligence. That was another Kenworth that we had.
Finding a truck from another owner operator, you know that truck was well taken care of.
Owner operators, takes care of their trucks, like it was their baby.

Another Owner-Op adds his experience:

In a round about way, thats how I got my first truck. I saw an ad for end dump drivers wanted. I called him and explained I did OTR for (at this time 6 years). He told me he needed people with thier own trucks but I must have talked the right stuff. He said he would buy a truck up to 20,000 and I would just pay him back. $700 a month for my new 94 KW T800 complete with wet kit. I did 50%OTR and 50% city work. I could have paid it off sooner but took my time and paid it off in 2 years and three months.
Like an idiot, I sold it to another driver because I was going to try the college thing.
I just signed papers on my second new truck officially today with a dealer.

Read the rest of the thread here

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33 comments. Add a comment.

  1. Damian says

    this my first year driving truck. I love it, I love doing what I do, I can’t wait to get up in the morning to do what I do. I want to own my own truck, not just a truck several trucks. I know some owner operators believe I should wait a little while longer before I decide to do that. But, due to personal reasons I am unable to. So I come to ask for help in getting started in the right way. I am currently driving for a great company and would like to lease on with them. They do not have a lease program so I am looking to purchase on my own. They promise 75% of load plus 100% fuel. I don’t have to have my own Trl. and they provide many other options. Now before I get to the six trucks I want to have, I need to get that first one. Do I need to get my own authority? What type of insurance do I need to get? What questions should I be asking? What year of truck should I look for? How many miles are acceptable? What do I not want to get? I drive flatbed, so I know I’ll need a mid roof. Something low enough to get under 12′ 7″ bridges in Chicago. I really like the Volvo VNl64t730, is that a good truck? What is the difference between the vnl64t730 and the vnl64t780? Please help, I have do many questions with very few answers.

    • says

      Lots of questions…….The very first thing needed is to research the “Business” itself. After that, witch type of loads would you want to “pull”. Then after extensive research on the vehicle themselves…(service programs and so on)….you find the company to lease onto. After
      the right connections are made….and MOrE ReSearch…then you get your Authority..((by should have made the decision to continue the “Sacrifice” that involves in being a TRUCK DRIVER.

  2. brenda lawrence says

    my husband is a truck driver.we are currently looking to buy his first truck.please if there is anyone out there that can help me please let me knew .I would like to surprise him for our anniversary. we live in Wisconsin.he has been driving trucks since he was 19,he is now dream is for him to retire owning his own truck for our boys to take over..thank you

    • Keith says

      I just bought my first truck, a 2003 Century out of Florida. What helped me is I got my LLC, a commercial checking account at me credit union and a DOT # back in 2010, even tho I never used any of it, the history helped. My credit union has helped me tremendously. I would start a relationship with a small local credit union.

  3. helen says

    I can’t imagine anyone wanting a truck with fuel the way it is.. we were in business since 2002 an the fuel got us.. there is only so much a person can absorb. with fuel, maintianence, tires. insurance and unexpected breakdowns. your profit margin is very narrow. we kept the company going, but couldn’t pay our personal bills. so in may we sold the last truck.. I would think long an hard.. but thats just me..

    • Robert says

      IF your thrifty on your fuel use, (easy on the pedal) then when the price goes up, so does your profit.. using the surcharge, gives you a bonus with higher prices coupled with good fuel economy, since its based on 6 mpg, you need to drive slower, and smarter.

  4. Glenn Fasick says

    I appreciate the ins & outs. My wife and I are looking to buy our first truck. Like the first story we would like to purchase it without the dealership mess. Any advise on how to find some of these O/Os selling their trucks? I thought maybe craiglist or posting it at the local stops.



  5. Mike S. says

    The question:s you ask, sounds like you need some more time behind the wheel. I have 28+ years still doing what I love.

  6. Coffeeclue says

    Why should someone give you credit if banks refuse to do so? There is a reason for good/bad credit rating. I had a driver working for me for 2 years. I decided to close the company and offered him killer terms on the truck he was driving. He signed up with other carriers, but 3 past due payments later I asked for the truck back. He left the truck in PA, about 900 miles away and told me to come get it. Never again would I sell equipment to anyone on terms. Simply not worth it.

    • ERIC says

      I understand where you are coming from but don’t think that way about everyone else because of tha butthead.There are good people who need a help getting started or needing a second chance.

    • lee says

      Please don’t tell me you let one bad instance destroy your faith in good people I hope no one did that to you or yours unless you are perfect you have made a bad choice or a poor decision at least once and credit ratings don’t tell the whole story where knowing someone should if he worked for you for three years and had no concerns about his character where were your attention to details at he obviously was in no shape to take care of anything and if you took the time to know your employee you would have never sold him anything that required payments just my two cents

  7. Lou villa says

    you sound like a politician. If you were offering the guy such a good deal he woulda took it. come on. you put the guy outa work. so he dumps the truck. at least he left it for ya to come get. be real , he was just finding his way. he probably had no way to drive 2 trucks to bring yours back. Besides banks are hiway robbers with a pen. bad credit means you are behind on your bills,not a bad person dude!!

    • Darren says

      Bad credit doesn’t mean you’re behind on bills. I had to claim bankruptcy because I couldn’t sell my house in a small community that was dependent on the forest industry which tanked. So no job, and had to move for work.

  8. doug says

    Oddly enough, I bought a pos truck 4 years ago, cheap, cash. 3.9 mpg…I put 200k on it, broke the transmission, lol, but with my shitty credit at that time(600), I got screwed for another million mile truck, for way too much…point being, my credit score went to 723 in 1.5 years. So, bad credit sucks, but if you can find the right “starter truck”, and you have the skills to run a business with a slim profit margin, keep looking, everyone is quitting, lol…this million mile truck gets 6.75 mpg, which justifys the payment 10 fold. And Lou, don’t encourage dishonor and destruction. It would piss me off to pay someone to abandon my equipment, or stiff me on an honorably made deal

  9. Trucker Girl says

    I have a credit score of 580. I filled out a lone mountain application. I was conditionally approved. As long as I can keep 4500 in the bank for 2 months, they’re willing to offer me a 2007 freightliner columbia for 3300 down. It has high mileage (600’s). But, considering this is my first truck, and I am DEFINITELY going to get a newer truck after paying this one off, I am going to team with my ex co-driver, and pay off a 36 month loan in 7 months. I figure once I prove worthy, it should be easier getting them or any other company to getting me into something a more….well…modern. Luckily for me, my ex co-driver has 13 yrs otr, has had a fleet and was a broker/agent. I’ve learned a lot in my one year of trucking, and determination, hard work and sacrifice will get me there. I tell you all to keep your heads up. If you can use your tax returns for your ‘money in the bank as proof you aren’t a big spender’ to allow lone mountain to finance you, by all means, be patient and do it. I am. Good luck to you all.

  10. Jon McKinney says

    I just bought my first truck. $26,000. Paid it off in 6 months. I knew a guy who didn’t want it. I wanted it. Now I own it. You can do it.

    • Robert says

      6 months times 8k a month net, use less than half for your living expense the other half is for clearing the truck.. you gotta have some luck too.

  11. Mike says

    I have my LLC, I have approximately 500k over the road with no violations no accidents no missed or late arrivals and I have my TWIC Card. I have been off the road for 6 months and going broke. I have pretty good credit and really think I am going to look into this, it sounds really good way to get started with my own truck!

  12. Brion says

    Tata..she said “Lone Mountain” application. . Dan, She said she PLANS to pay off in 6 months with a team driver.

  13. George says

    I mean just because someone has bad credit doesn’t mean much, I was told because of that I’d never be successful as an owner I leased my first truck paid it off ran with Schinder bought three more trucks now under my own with a decent sized fleet, if you are business savy anything is possible. Good luck.

  14. charles says

    I’m going to school to get my cdl in two months. I’m a veteran so are there certain companies that offer the best opportunity across the board for vets? I am considering con-way and swifty. They seem really reputable and like they have great programs for rookies. But i don’t know anything about the “good” companies to join. Any advice on what school i should go thru (thru a company or thru a school), what companies offer the most benefits for their drivers, from advancement to most opportunity to drive as much as possible, and treat their people well. Any and all advice is really appreciated.

    • Dan says

      Do the training at a cdl school don’t use swift or any company to train and hire you, that’s one of the biggest scams I’ve watched ppl sink you don’t do well for miles, swift has a bad rep I clinch everytime I see a swift truck backing up, but rookies do have to have a year in somewhere my advice do the training at a school near you, work a reefer or flatbed if your able bodied, then go somewhere like covenant, I work for a very small o/o company 16 drivers to be exact it is not the best but I’ve got a dedicated route that I gross about 5-6K a week and I’m happy but I can’t take a day off unless my broker can find a replacement for a week or so.

  15. Dan says

    I just talked to a guy about a Columbia he had for sale he was asking 28,000 for it on an owner finance he said 1700 down 695 a week plus .10 a mile I run about 3400 miles every week, so I’d be looking at 1,035 a week (the .10 a mile being maintenance, I’ve done the math he said 12 months with a 5K payoff or 18 months free and clear AS LONG AS I DIDN’T USE THE MAINTENANCE FUND. So get out your calculator do the math and laugh as I did, the truck is an 07 Colombia Detroit 14L 980K miles no overhaul done yet and a 35K mile warranty, 10 spd manual, recap drives at 80%steers50% brakes roughly 60% drums slightly 1/8 before wear is under dot biggest part was no history. Still he said well you won’t find a better deal anywhere else.

    3 days later I bought a Pete 379 midnight black already painted with lightning not really my style red leather interior chromed out inside blue lit everywhere a Cummins cranked to 525 HP 13 spd man. 280″ stretch frame all for 12K as I sent him a pic of it and a shot of the price tag and he asked if he could buy it I said sure and said his own payment plan back to him. Only mine would be listed much higher if he wanted it. And he said I’m not going to fall for that. Some ppl are out to scam a hard working man and for 7 years straight I seemed to find them all. Just this one thing went right it made everything worth it.

  16. Adrian Lanier says

    I’m interested in purchasing my first truck to run teams. I’ve held my CDL for almost 20 years as I was in a professional career and investing in real estate along with two registered businesses (Non for Profit Organization & For Profit LLC). After a down fall in the economy, I lost my career job, a property and my credit score dropped. I’ve now been driving otr since 2007 and most companies I’ve run for aren’t maximizing my time. Thus I’m interested in my own truck. I have a registered Transportation LLC and tax ID (no DOT # yet) however….finding financing seems to be my problem. I’m currently living on the truck by choice as my home (an owner occupied investment) is fully rented…but company running still isn’t enough for me to maximize my desire to run. Please help?!!!

  17. stacy says

    I was wondering if any one can give me some insight as to how I can purchase a end dump truck, I am unsure if a Company and or a broker with stand behind me where we both are on title until the TRUCK IS PAID OFF . I need help as I have bad credit . but I am a hard worker and am looking to purchase as soon as I can, Please I hope some one can provide some good feed back, Keep in mind we can set up monthly payments, and draw a contract. Thank you for any and all assistance

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