Short-Term Or Long-Term – What's Best For Your First Used Truck?

There's one unavoidable capital requirement for everyone starting as an owner-operator: a truck. If you're just getting going as a single driver, your rig will likely be your most significant investment initially and for a long time to come. Because you'll be spending so much of your starting capital on this one purchase, it's crucial to make the best decision possible.

Buying a used truck is an excellent way to save some money, but you'll need to make a few decisions before you step foot onto your nearest lot. In many ways, these choices won't just shape your truck purchase but also your near-term business goals. One critical decision is whether you're looking to buy a truck to keep for the long haul or if you're after a quick way to jump-start your business.

Going Long

A long-term truck is one that you plan to keep for many years and, ideally, for as long as it will remain profitable to operate. If you have the funds and are confident about your business plan, investing in a "forever" truck can be a good decision. Sticking with one truck means that you'll get to learn it inside and out while maximizing your profits by amortizing your purchase over the long term.

Of course, choosing a truck that you intend to drive for many years also requires more research, care, and dedication. You'll most likely need to spend more to purchase a newer rig or one with fewer miles. You may also be looking at higher costs in the short term if your truck requires repairs or an overhaul. While this work can pay off, it can mean spending more money as you're trying to launch your business.

One other consideration is how your hauling business may change over time. Are you confident in the routes you'll be running or the cargo you'll be hauling? If you are, choosing a truck to go the distance makes a lot of sense. On the other hand, you may want to look at other options if you're less sure about your future business plans.

Keeping it Short

Another option is to minimize your upfront costs by choosing a truck you don't intend to keep forever. In these cases, you can look for rigs that may have a few more miles or years on them or even trucks with known problems. While you still want to choose a reliable vehicle, you don't need to worry as much about making a purchase that'll last for another decade.

This approach can be valuable if you expect your business requirements to change or if you want to avoid taking out a large loan while launching your new company. Lower startup costs can mean more substantial upfront profits, and a smaller loan can make it easier to upgrade into a newer truck in a few years.

Ultimately, the right approach to buying a heavy duty used truck will be unique to every owner-operator. When deciding on the best option for your business, make sure you consider your budget, goals, and your immediate business needs.