Highway Trucks Buyer's Guide
Semi truck pricing
Table of Contents
New highway trucks are a big investment for the average buyer. Even for large fleet operators, new purchases have to be weighed against the amount of additional revenue they'll bring in. While new and used truck prices can range considerably, there are some general guidelines you can keep in mind.
New heavy-duty truck cabs typically range in price from $80,000 to $150,000. The high end of that range gets you high-horsepower engines, full-sized sleepers, premium accessories, and the latest technologies for reducing fuel and other operating costs. The low end includes mainly day cabs with single axles and lower overall capacities.
If you're buying new, you'll have the chance to add and remove options to customize your truck. Extended custom sleepers, extreme-duty frames and suspensions, or custom paint and chrome jobs can push total costs over $200,000.
While most buyers don't push the envelope quite this far, some find that the extra investment up front can eventually be recouped. Extras like premium seats and sleeper packages hold their value and can help when it comes time to resell the truck.
On the other hand, consider that those extras have a higher cost than just their initial purchase price. Adding more weight to your truck reduces your fuel efficiency as well as the total weight of cargo you can haul.
Used highway truck costs
Used highway truck prices can vary almost as much as new truck prices - but in a far lower range. Once a truck has a few hundred thousand miles on it, the resale price starts to drop considerably.
Oversized sleepers with all the extras that cost $175,000 when new might be found for $115,000 once they have reached 200,000 miles. When that same truck accumulates 500,000 miles, it might sell again for $80,000.
A more common price point seems to be two-to-five-year-old sleepers in relatively good condition - with 300,000 to 600,000 miles - for $45,000 to $60,000. Many of these trucks are likely fleet trucks or trucks coming off leases. Day cab trucks are slightly less, with a wide variety of serviceable used trucks in the $30,000 to $50,000 range.
Be cautious when looking at the low end of the price spectrum. In the $15,000-to-$40,000 price range, you'll find either very high-mileage trucks, where reliability can be questionable, or lower-horsepower trucks that are more limited in the types of loads they can haul.
Financing and leasing
As with any major investment, you'll have to decide whether you want to purchase your truck or lease it. The decision really should be based on your financial situation and the available lease options.
Owner/operators more often tend to purchase trucks than lease them, while fleet buyers lean more toward leasing. The main reason is that individual drivers tend to hang on to their trucks for much longer, while fleets turn over their vehicles more regularly.