Going O/O: Which Truck to Buy?

Discussion in 'Questions From New Drivers' started by csmith1281, May 29, 2017.

  1. csmith1281

    csmith1281 Medium Load Member

    May 29, 2017
    Atlanta, GA
    I've been driving now for one month solo. In my first full three weeks, I averaged 2,764 mi/wk. If I'm going to spend all that time away from my family, I want to maximize that time, so I want to go owner operator ASAP. I'm not going to lease from anyone. I'm going to put down a 20% down payment, take out a loan from my bank, and buy a used truck with 1/2M miles or less and pay $1000 or less per month. I have plenty of experience operating my own contracting business and rental real estate. I know how to operate a business, and I know how to run miles. I would be more than glad to hear anyone who wants to bring up specific concerns I will need to be aware of as I go into truck ownership. But my main question here is: which truck would be a good one for a new owner operator to start with? I'm currently driving a 2015 Cascadia that I think works really well. I haul refrigerated freight over the road, so I'm familiar with how it pulls mountains and how it pulls up to 80k lbs in general. I drive for Swift, so I'm aware they have governed it and may have castrated some horse power as well. Would anybody recommend a middle of the road truck other than the Cascadia? What trucks should I absolutely stay away from?
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  3. buddyd157

    buddyd157 Road Train Member

    May 25, 2017
    under a shade tree
    i would go Freightliner as well.

    i loved my condo many years ago, more room than a pete or k-whopper.

    resale value may not be as high, but hey, you buy one used, run it into the ground, buy another.
    Bean Jr. and csmith1281 Thank this.
  4. Bean Jr.

    Bean Jr. Road Train Member

    Mar 30, 2014
    I havent driven one, but I've heard that Internationals are better avoided. Another one, in my opinion to avoid is Volvo. I know a lot of guys like the ishift, or whatever it is called. Perhaps my loathing of them has affected my objective opinion, but i will give 3 reasons to avoid them.
    1) Electrical issues
    2) Their lack of ability to hold air as they get older.
    Tied into most important, that few non-Volvo shops can do anything about it. The light control module goes out, and a regular shop can't diagnose it, so you go to Volvo. AC doesn't work? With a Volvo it is most likely an electric issue, not a mechanical one, and you could be spending all summer finding out why!
    Last edited: May 29, 2017
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  5. STexan

    STexan Road Train Member

    Oct 3, 2011
    Longview, TX
    Oh my ... hold on while I get my popcorn and beer cart stocked.

    ... fast learner, though. I'm impressed.
  6. Diesel Dave

    Diesel Dave Last Few of the OUTLAWS

    Jan 20, 2010
    Hesperia, Ca.
    IMG_0133.JPG Things to concern about you say?,....... seems you know how to run a business, but trucking is a complete different animal. The main concern is cost and knowing the power train. With today's motors, EGR, DPF,etc......when issues arise, it's gonna end up in the shop. My personal opinion, your jumping into it to quick, but to which is own. Buy some overalls and plenty of tools and of course, I figure since you want to take the plunge, I'm sure they taught you how to turn wrenches in real estate. And on your days off or weekends holidays, you will doing this number.....(picture enclosed above) :p
    Last edited: May 29, 2017
  7. dngrous_dime

    dngrous_dime Road Train Member

    Jan 28, 2014
    GR, MI
    Buying a truck is much like having children. If you think you're ready, you're not. And it will constantly suck every dollar out of your wallet, sometimes without even telling you.
  8. Bakerman

    Bakerman Road Train Member

    Jan 27, 2013
    Phoenix, AZ
    You either go brand new or old, nothing in between. If you buy something with 1/2M miles on it, you better have a competent mechanic go over it with a fine tooth comb! Don't believe me? Check out Rawze.com videos and see a guy who purchased a truck like you want to & got screwed.

    I would focus more on drivetrain than truck mfr. Cummins, Cat or Detroit with a 13 spd trans. Stay away from fleet trucks and try and find a truck an O/O is selling.
    Stay away from proprietary engines and transmissions, as you usually need to take them to dealers for diagnostics.
    The cab on top of the frame is just what flavor of ice cream you want on the cone.

    Good luck in your search and don't be in a hurry to buy.
  9. Pedigreed Bulldog

    Pedigreed Bulldog Road Train Member

    May 7, 2011
    Buying a truck isn't like buying a car. With a car, they all come off the assembly line pretty much identical, save for a few limited options. A truck, on the other hand, even the same make/model coming off the line one after the other, can have an engine from any of several manufacturers, and each manufacturer has 2 or 3 different size engines, and each of those different engine sizes might have a half dozen or so different power levels they can be set to. The transmission, again, has a dozen or more different varieties by a few different transmission manufacturers. Same with the rear ends, with gearing ranging from 2.xx all of the way down to 4.xx for road trucks (and even lower for "off road" spec'd trucks). Suspensions will give you another dozen or so different options. Then there are frame rail thickness, wheel base, wheel and tire size, brakes, etc., etc., etc. Just because you drove one 2015 Freightliner Cascadia and liked it doesn't mean EVERY 2015 Freightliner Cascadia will drive and handle the same way....and we aren't even taking into account the difference in wear & tear, driver abuse, and maintenance (or neglect) any particular truck may have been subject to in those first "1/2 million miles or less" that you are looking for.

    Bottom line, you need to know how the truck you want should be spec'd...and then look for a truck with those specs. Your best bet is to pay attention to how the company rides you are provided with are set up, what you like about them, and what you dislike about them, and what you would improve upon. Drive as many different company rides as you can to get an idea how each combination of specs performs. It is a business tool, and you need to make sure that you're buying the RIGHT tool for the job.

    Or, you could just buy a truck that "looks" good...or LOOKS like a truck that you used to drive, and essentially play Russian Roulette with whether or not it'll work for you.

    Now if you're driving for a large fleet, and intend to continue doing that same sort of work, a used truck from that fleet is probably going to be set up pretty close, because they have chosen specs that meet their needs. Those specs sometimes lean a little more favorably toward the pencil-pusher in the office than the way a driver might prefer, but it will get the job done. The biggest problem with those fleet trucks, though, is the drivers were probably relatively new to the industry, and in the 1/2 million miles or so they might have had 4 or 5 different "new" drivers scratching gears trying to figure things out. In other words, they were 1/2 million hard miles...and the fleet knows when to get rid of their trucks BEFORE those hard miles start costing too much to repair, and so those repairs will have to be made by the buyer of those trucks.
  10. Badmon

    Badmon Heavy Load Member

    Oct 6, 2014
    Deep south
    ooo this is gold
    RedRover, csmith1281 and Bakerman Thank this.
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