Lessons learned, and clearing the air. New&perspective O/O's should read.

Discussion in 'Ask An Owner Operator' started by Michael H, Dec 4, 2020.

  1. Michael H

    Michael H Medium Load Member

    Nov 3, 2015
    I guess I'm feeling wordy today. I've done a lot of hinting around the issue and thought I'd pass on the story to help with perspective for those looking at getting into this quagmire.

    I purchased a truck with cash. That's good. However, I rushed into it and ended up with a lemon. That's tragic.

    For the last few years, I have been working for the dealership and not myself. I go out, I save money, the truck goes right back to the dealership for the next round of repairs. I've earned a lot of money as an O/O. Unfortunately, almost all of it went right back into the truck. My mantra became, "One week without a breakdown, Please, One week without a breakdown." That's no way to operate a business.

    I even realized this and went to work as a company driver for a short period to save up some operating capital.

    After a few years of living like this, the end of the truck finally came last month. Here's where the expenses of being an O/O can really hurt. Pay attention to this next part, perspectives.

    After working as a company driver, I decided it was time to go back on my own. COVID-19 is actually a code word. The true meaning of it is, "get a free paycheck while you do absolutely nothing all day while working for the FMCSA." Item #1 to getting authority is truck insurance. So, you pay your down payment on the insurance and wait for it to be filed with the FMCSA. In my case, I was reinstating my authority, but it's pretty much the same process all around. Pay their blood money to apply. Then, I spent two months sitting around waiting for them to "process" my paperwork. Now mind you, you're still making insurance payments while you're not earning any money. For some of you, that also means making truck payments with no income.

    Finally, after two months, someone at the FMCSA made the true sacrifice and horrendous effort to push a couple of keys on their keyboard. My authority was reinstated. Great. Now for IFTA/IRP registration.

    That's about $1900 due up front. Then, I waited a month for the state employee to also muster the courage to make the supreme sacrifice of punching a couple buttons.

    So now, we are three months and about $10k in the hole getting started. Out I go. First trip out, truck starts acting up..again. I also had to get new tires on the truck and trailer, as well as some rims from a couple blow-outs. Three trips to the shop, each time not making it out of the parking lot before another failure.

    My first month back out? $10k lost in startup expenses. $20k in tires and repairs. READ THIS CAREFULLY ALL YOU TROLLS: I had cash in reserve. I was able to front the $30k for the startup and repairs. It's not like I was a fly-by night bottom-feeder. I ran into bad luck on a bad truck.

    I ended up selling the truck and trailer to the dealership's used-parts guy. Got a pittance that was more a slap in the face insult than anything else.

    I am not a quitter. I spent a lot of time and effort to reinstate my authority and won't go down without a fight. However, I'm also a realist. So I'm grabbing my boot straps and picking myself up. I'm going to rent a truck and trailer long enough to save up a down payment for my next truck. I know that I am successful when the truck is running. Third time's the charm and I WILL succeed.

    Don't even bother with the one-line insults and criticism. This post isn't for you, troll. Go stir the s-pot somewhere else. This post is for me and is lessons learned for perspective O/O's to prepare them for possible eventualities in their startup. Everyone else, feel free to add some of your lessons learned. Let's use this forum as intended: to help each other out.
    Dino soar, 650cat425, Vampire and 20 others Thank this.
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  3. PNwMtFlwr

    PNwMtFlwr Bobtail Member

    Jul 30, 2020
    Washington State
    Thank you for sharing your story @Michael H. I’ve been thinking about how I would go about making a truck purchase - more specifically, how to inspect or pay to get a used truck inspection. I wonder if there are certified, independent inspectors offering this service (these are easy to find in the RV community). Thanks again, and wishing you all the best!
    Dino soar, 650cat425, Vampire and 2 others Thank this.
  4. DUNE-T

    DUNE-T Road Train Member

    May 10, 2015
    Detroit, MI
    What kind of truck did you have?
    LameMule and Lonesome Thank this.
  5. Michael H

    Michael H Medium Load Member

    Nov 3, 2015
    2008 Freightliner Columbia midroof with a Series 60 14L and eaton automatic. It's the one in my avatar pic.

    PnW, NYCgorilla started a thread Flatbed tractor questions that has amazing engine info from some true guru contributors. Worth a read.
  6. Michael H

    Michael H Medium Load Member

    Nov 3, 2015
    The Avatar pic was a Halloween dress-up that I had no idea at the time was a fair prediction of the future!
    Dale thompson Thanks this.
  7. Accidental Trucker

    Accidental Trucker Road Train Member

    Jun 4, 2015
    In reality, pre-purchase inspections only save you from SOME repairs. Old iron needs constant attention. Either from you, or a shop. Period.

    And by “attention”, I mean MONEY and TIME.
  8. ready2truck

    ready2truck Light Load Member

    Oct 27, 2020
    What was going wrong with the truck?
    Speed_Drums Thanks this.
  9. Oscar the KW

    Oscar the KW No Filter

    May 19, 2011
    2006 or older, 2016 or newer. Anything in between those years is just not worth the risk.
    Vampire, Opendeckin, 2CAN and 10 others Thank this.
  10. wichris

    wichris Road Train Member

    Jan 17, 2011
    Had 6 2008's brand new, traded them off @ 2 years instead of 3. My phone beeped 24/7 with the virtual tech alerts the whole time. Bypassed buying the 2009's and held some trucks an extra year to get 2010"s Pretty sure that's when my hair turned gray.
    Dino soar, Tug Toy, tommymonza and 2 others Thank this.
  11. Lonesome

    Lonesome Mr. Sarcasm

    Dec 15, 2007
    Northern Indiana
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