how many miles does a tractor last?

Discussion in 'Questions To Truckers From The General Public' started by M818, May 9, 2011.

  1. Mr Ed

    Mr Ed Road Train Member

    Apr 6, 2009
    Retired in Taunton Ma
    my brother got 2 million out of his 97 Western Star and 1.7 out of his W900 KW.We get rid of our trucks at under 500,000.The difference is,he's an O/O,I'm a company driver.
    M818 Thanks this.
  2. Truckers Report Jobs

    Trucking Jobs in 30 seconds

    Every month 400 people find a job with the help of TruckersReport.

  3. G/MAN

    G/MAN Road Train Member

    Sep 3, 2010
    Trucks can last for many years with proper maintenance and care. It is still cheaper to do an in-frame than buy a new truck. All trucks require maintenance. It is still cheaper to maintain a truck than make big payments.
    Matt1924 and M818 Thank this.
  4. rockee

    rockee Road Train Member

    Apr 17, 2007
    Pacific Northwest
    You notice I did put a qualifier in there saying "it depends on what kind of life the truck has had" And yes it is my opinion that all things being equal a local truck has a harder life than than a OTR truck
    M818 Thanks this.
  5. Freebird135

    Freebird135 Road Train Member

    May 7, 2009
    In the air conditioning
    1.7 million and counting on my assigned tractor

    she can be seen here

    M818 Thanks this.
  6. SmoothShifter

    SmoothShifter Defender of the Driveline

    Sep 10, 2010
    Feura Bush, NY
    Pretty much been all said here. How it's spec'ed - if it does the work is was built for. Maintenance, driver care, the quality of roads it operates on (a truck pounding the roads of NYC will see more wear and tear than something that runs on pristine highways).

    The trucks of today last longer than the trucks of 25 years ago because the engineering has progressed.

    And, you get what you pay for. Each truck build has it's own quirks and faults. The wind noise between a door of a Peterbilt and a Freightliner Century are worlds apart.

    Million mile engines are common these days with the advent of APU's ( no idling) and regular maintenance and good driving habits.

    I got 740,000 miles on one clutch and ran heavy. I've seen trucks in fleets have a completely destroyed clutch in 125,000 miles, because the drivers were rough, and too lazy to start off in the correct gear.

    Diesel engines have been designed to be rebuilt effortlessly unlike a car engine that needs removed for machine shop work. Regardless, all it takes is one inattentive driver to overheat a motor, operate it low of fluids and ruin an engine block with cracks, or destroy the crankshaft mains by running low on oil.

    Oil changes are important. The one thing I have noticed with the new breed of emissions engines is that the oil gets dirty faster.
    M818 Thanks this.
  7. JeepHammer

    JeepHammer Bobtail Member

    May 6, 2011
    Washington, IN.
    You are trading warranty for low initial cost, but any repairs will quickly jack the price of the vehicle up.

    Engines regularly go 1 million miles without much of a problem IF THEY ARE MAINTAINED PROPERLY!

    What will kill you is the constant barrage of 'Small' issues.
    Around 500,000 miles you will start to see vibration problems, electrical problems, accessories problems, ect.

    An alternator on the road will cost you around $1,200.
    A set of batteries will cost you around $150 each ( x 3 or 4 in most cases)
    Wiring terminals corrode, and electrical problems can be real time consuming to chase down and fix.
    Vibration attacks wiring terminals, hard metal lines and even plastic air lines over time.

    The same vibration that causes squeaks, rattles, buzzes, ect. in the cab is doing the same thing to fittings, connection, hard lines, hangers, rubber components, ect.

    This stuff can 'Nickel & Dime' you to death if you don't know how to repair a lot of it on your own,
    Or you don't have a local parts supply house where you can buy replacement parts at reasonable prices.

    The average shop rate is around $75 an hour, usually with a 2 hour minimum, so for anyone to raise the door and pull your truck in it's going to cost you $150...
    That's before they even raise the hood!

    Then you have to deal with the substandard work of shops in the trucks' past...
    Guys that used soft bolts instead of good quality grade 8 bolts,
    Guys that didn't use heat shrink tubing on electrical splices (or some other way to seal the road salt and crud out) so the 'Repair' isn't going to last...
    Substandard parts that were 'Rebuilt' in countries where the average pay is $1.00 a day...

    If you CAN NOT change your own alternator belt or fan belt,
    If you CAN NOT change your own alternator,
    If you CAN NOT diagnose and change bad batteries,
    If you CAN NOT find, clean or replace bad battery cables,
    If you CAN NOT install a new or REMANUFACTURED air compressor on the engine...

    Then I strongly suggest you DO NOT buy a used truck!


    If you are mechanically inclined, Carry tools, can spare the time to work on your vehicle during down time on the road or on weekends,
    Then a 'High Mileage' vehicle might just pay off for you.

    They are somewhat cheaper to insure, taxes are less, initial cost is less, and operating costs are the same as a new truck (Fuel/Tires/Oil Changes/Ect.)

    Keep in mind that if the Engine/Transmission/Differentials aren't REGULARLY serviced, then the drive train (the expensive parts) are NOT going to live very long.
    Most big trucks are designed to get through warranty periods without the 'Big Parts' giving up...
    That means if you had a gear grinding rookie or 'Super Trucker' that scratched every gear every time they shifted...
    The transmission is designed to survive through the warranty period of about 500,000 miles.

    If you had a PO (Previous Owner) that knew what he was doing,
    Then the drive train will live a LOT longer.
    Regular service/adjustment will keep your vehicle living a LOT longer.

    Nothing beats regular oil changes (around 15,000 miles for average OTR trucks, much sooner for 'Dirty Environment' operations.)


    I purchased my truck from a 'Veteran' driver, which had detailed maintenance records from the day it was purchase new.
    Had 750,000 on it without a hint of engine/drive train leak.

    I finally gave my truck up at 2.25 million miles.
    One 'In Frame' overhaul at 1.75 million miles, original transmission, original differentials, and one clutch (1.75 million when we dropped the crank for the in frame.

    Oil changes,
    DO NOT scrimp on oil filters or oil!
    I run Shell Rotella 'T' oil when I change oil, add the cheap stuff to get me to then next oil change...
    So the majority of the oil in the crank case is Shell Rotella T or Valvoline Diesel oil.

    Keep your fuel system clean and watch for leaks!
    Fuel will be your biggest expense on any vehicle, so any fuel you can 'Save' is money in your pocket!

    A small 'Seep' leak will EASILY drop 2 gallons a day,
    That's $5 a gallon, so you are pissing $10 a day, (or $50 a week on a 5 day week, or $200 in a month) away if you don't fix the leak as soon as you find it!

    Double fuel filters will save your fuel pump!
    Some pumps go over $2,000 each, so DO NOT let crud from the tanks ruin your pump!

    A really good air dryer will save everything in your air system.
    You don't have any idea how many valves I've changed due to corrosion from moisture in the air system!

    Remember to change the lubricant in the transmission and differentials!
    So many people let the lubricant go too long with moisture and crud in it, and it WILL cost you a transmission or differential if you do!

    Tighten up those loose hose clamps!
    When you see a hose or wiring harness/wire starting to chafe, take steps to tie it down or give it protection!
    This can be as easy as wrapping the line with a piece of heater hose to keep it from chafing, and will save you that road service call/out of town repair bill!

    Know how to change an alternator yourself!
    Electrical problems are the most baffling for 'Non-Mechanics',
    But paying for a taxi to get you to/from a parts supply house where you can buy a replacement for $200 and changing that alternator yourself will save you that $1,200 bill on the road!

    Restrain from adding 'Chicken Lights' to trucks...
    Since the 'Chrome & Bling' doesn't add to production,
    And costs you money without any return, it's not financially sound to invest in...
    If you have the light, it's got to work or you stand to get a ticket...
    And most of the 'Chicken Lights' I've seen are IMPROPERLY INSTALLED...
    Inadequate or no circuit protection, no environmental seal on the wiring, drilling holes in the sheet metal where rust WILL start are all bad things.

    Consider upgrading the hoses that carry coolant, air pressure, fuel, ect.
    Steel braided radiator and heater hoses so you don't have a failure on the road that causes a road service bill...

    Keep an eye on not just the belts, but the PULLEYS!
    Pulleys will wear over time, and will overheat/wear your belts out very quickly.

    If you find a worn/cracked belt or cracked hose, REPLACE IT YOURSELF!

    When you replace the turbo, make SURE you replace the oil RETURN Line. Turbos create great heat which thickens the oil and plugs up the return line...
    So if you put a new turbo on an old return line, you just burn up the new turbo since the oil can't circulate with a plugged return line!
    And Turbos are EXPENSIVE!
    (Ask me how I learned that one!)


    If you are NOT mechanically inclined or haven't worked in a truck shop,
    Then I would advise against buying a high mileage truck.

    If you have mechanical experience,
    And you are dedicated to keeping track of the vehicle and it's systems,
    Can do the maintenance and repair the small issues before they become big problems,
    Then I would recommend buying a higher mileage truck.

    Since I will NEVER make $1,200 an hour that I will spend for an alternator problem on the road,
    The $120 to change a headlight,
    The $1,400 to change a wheel seal, ect...

    I fix those things myself since I have the time (Truck Broke Down) and avoid the high cost of a full on truck shop for something simple...

    The cost of a pretty complete set of tools from Sears is about $300,
    The specialty tools you will need, like heavy jack, some large sockets for wheel bearing nuts, ect. are small potatoes compared to some of the shop bill horror stories I've seen first hand!

    The best advise I can give is NEVER settle for a 'Repair'...

    If you can't UPGRADE what ever went wrong, you are doomed to replace it again over and over again.
    It's ALWAYS better to UPGRADE, spend a little extra money and get it right the first time that to 'Scab' it together and do it over and over again!

    Never settle for cheap bearings, insist on TIMKEN bearings, there are none better, and the seals are very good too.

    If a bolt vibrates out, make SURE you clean the hole, use a high quality bolt (Not from the 'Farm Store') and use LOCKTITE in the hole when you replace it.

    If your air compressor gets week, replace it with a BENDIX air compressor, not some 'Freds Reman' from a discount place.

    I know I'm dropping name brands here,
    But this isn't a 'Beater' car you are driving twice a week,
    This is your paycheck, so don't cheap out on the generic stuff!

    When a bolt & nut come up missing or loose,
    Use a good quality LOCKING replacement so this doesn't happen again.

    If you have a heater hose give up, get the best quality hose you can find to replace it so you don't have to do this again right away.
    Besides down time, and parts, you are out 6 gallons of coolant/anti-freeze!
    You can't make any money when the truck is constantly needing the same repairs every 20,000 miles!

    This is just an old mechanic/trucker talking, I've only been doing this all my life,
    And anything you find on the internet is worth EXACTLY what you paid for it,
    So make up your own mind, but at least take some of these points into consideration...
  8. kwforage

    kwforage Road Train Member

    Jun 3, 2007
    ^^^^ what jeephammer said. very good post
    M818 Thanks this.
  9. Christensen

    Christensen Light Load Member

    May 24, 2011
    West Palm Beach, Fl.
    This is what i was thinking to, leasing a truck with that many miles does'nt sound so bad, and its far cheaper than buying new...meaning you can pay it off faster...
    M818 Thanks this.
  10. kajidono

    kajidono Road Train Member

    Jun 1, 2009
    The truck I'm driving now just passed 546,000 miles. It runs fine, rides smooth, is the straightest driving truck I've ever been in and the interior is nearly perfect. I'd buy it.
    M818 Thanks this.
  11. 3starsnasun

    3starsnasun Bobtail Member

    May 23, 2011
    thank you for the advise!!!!
    M818 Thanks this.
  • Truckers Report Jobs

    Trucking Jobs in 30 seconds

    Every month 400 people find a job with the help of TruckersReport.

  • Draft saved Draft deleted