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Pros and Cons of Purchasing a Used Semi-Truck

 

There are countless factors to consider when purchasing a semi-truck, and it’s important to carefully consider them all. In the complex and dynamic world of trucking, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with all of the various facets. One of the most important decisions when it comes to buying a semi-truck is whether to go with a new versus a used vehicle. While both have their individual pros and cons, many drivers choose to go with a used truck for various reasons.

If you’re considering purchasing your first semi-truck, it is important to consider the logistics of the purchase. Here are some factors to consider when weighing the pros and cons of a used semi-truck vs a new one.

Budget Talk

Obviously, one of the most important variables during this entire process is going to be your budgetary limitations, assuming they’re present. A used truck can be significantly cheaper than a new one, while still gaining all the features you want. A new truck tends to run you upwards of $150,000 and beyond. For many people, especially those for whom this is their first truck purchase, this is a wildly unobtainable expense, especially when trying to get started in the business.

A used truck gives you a more reasonable beginning expense that is likely more easily tackled while maintaining financial stability on your new journey. You can often find a used truck in  good condition for under $75,000, which is vastly more accessible for someone with a stricter budget.

A lower initial cost can also be immensely beneficial for your loaning process. The smaller cost means that you’ll have less to actually finance, leading to drastically lowered loan rates that can save you a lot of money down the road. Check out this helpful resource for more details on semi-truck loans and commercial vehicle financing.

Used Semi-Trucks are Lower Risk

Because the initial cost is lower, it also lowers your risk factors significantly in terms of financial loss. Lower costs up front mean that a change of course down the line is not as huge of a blow to your wallet when a particular truck doesn’t work out the way you might have initially intended. This is also a potential benefit to people or companies who are just starting out. New beginnings contain immensely exciting potential, but they also often aren’t the ideals that we dream of. Lowering initial investments help you keep your losses in check if you decide for a change in career path, or simply a shift in the direction of the company. A used truck allows for an easier change in track than a new truck, because the heavy commitment that comes with a new truck is far more binding. 

Potential for Great Quality

Going the used route for your semi-truck purchase doesn’t always mean that you have to sacrifice on the general quality of the truck. Used trucks, if they are somewhat recently produced or renovated, or simply well maintained by their previous owners, can be in excellent condition for you or your staff to utilize. Going for a model that is only a few years old might provide many of the same features that you would typically look for in a new truck, without the hefty price tag that comes along with the “new” sticker.

In fact, many seasoned trucking veterans prefer older trucks to their newer counterparts. It is often insisted that older trucks are sturdier, stronger, and generally more reliable than new trucks. When it comes to valuable opinions, it doesn’t get much more immediate than the drivers themselves, so make sure that you listen to their opinions and desires in order to make the best purchasing decisions for you or your company.

Used Semi-Trucks: Potential Pitfalls  

While there is a hefty plethora of reasonable benefits that come along with choosing a used truck over a new one, there are also different risks that come along with the territory. There are certain conditions associated with any used vehicle that put you at a higher risk for mechanical problems, increased repairs and heightened operational costs.

The cons of a used semi-truck include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • Increased mileage
  • High-polluting, diesel engine
  • Internal wear and tear such as seat tears or any internal material damage
  • An unknown history that can lead to unexpected repairs or damages
  • Unknown habits of previous driver that could have led to excessive mechanical strain

Weighing the Pros and Cons

All of these factors add risk to your truck buying experience, but it’s up to you and your team to decide if you’re ready to tackle them for the financial benefits that a used truck provides. While a used semi contains many unknowns, many owner operators have found it to be the best option for their current situation. Just make sure that you do plenty of research and properly educate yourself before committing to such a significant purchase.

To get started in the wild world of trucking, apply for a semi-truck loan and begin the process today. You can also stay up to date on the latest industry news and gain insight into this dynamic field with our blog.

 

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Alternatives to Diesel Fuel: Reducing Emissions with Electric Semi-Trucks

Image Credit: Tesla

 

In the wake of the popularization of electric cars, scooters and bikes, sustainability is one of the most controversial buzzwords in the transportation industry. Reducing air pollution and fuel consumption is a worldwide obsession and the biggest names in the automobile industry are playing right along. Developers are consistently expounding on ideals of efficient trucking, but the practicality of such is up for substantial debate.

Semi-trucks are one of the only remaining transportation systems that hadn’t been seduced by the glamour of electric and increasingly sustainable fuel sources, until now. Diesel big rigs have been running the game for far too long and now is finally the time for more environmentally-friendly options. Get ready, because the trucking industry is going green at a stunningly fast rate.

Tesla’s Electric Semi-Truck is Here

Electric-operated semi-trucks are emerging more than ever. Modern intelligence mogul Elon Musk recently announced a new option for truckers worldwide who were looking to lower fuel costs, reduce emissions, and achieve maximum efficiency in their resource usage. From the popular yet controversial brand Tesla, the new semi-truck option has the entire trucking community buzzing.

Simply called the “Tesla Semi,” the new truck has sparked provocative discussions about the practicality of the green movement for the entire trucking industry. Musk asserts that not only is this option better for the environment and pollution levels, it’s beneficial for the truckers themselves. In a mockup, he compares the acceleration efficiency of his Semi to a traditional diesel truck. The new Tesla truck supposedly can go from 0-60 miles per hour in a mere 20 seconds, an acceleration rate which would greatly increase on-road efficiency and traffic flow for truckers.

On top of the mechanical superiorities, Tesla claims that this new innovation will help to save costs with an estimated $200,000 in fuel savings. While this number may seem appealing initially, it’s estimated for over a span of two years and might not outweigh the additional costs that come along with such a high-tech purchase. With an expected base of $180,000, it’s no mystery why many truckers are skeptical of the payoff. While an electric truck may save in fuel, such a high cost upfront isn’t realistic for most truckers, leaving them still searching for more financially realistic diesel alternatives.

Fuel Cell Alternatives

A slightly less costly way to achieve an alternative power source for the trucking industry is through hydrogen-fuel cell powered vehicles. Hydrogen fuel cells create energy without burning the same polluting outputs as conventional diesel. Combining Hydrogen and Oxygen creates a power source that has been found to be remarkably efficient for transportation.

Toyota, a more traditionally obtainable brand is releasing its first truck powered by hydrogen fuel cells in the last quarter of this calendar year. They partnered with Kenworth Trucking Co. for their mutual goal. They seek to reduce emissions at major U.S. ports that were experiencing especially bad air pollution from the high trucking traffic that took place there. The truck is fitted with two fuel cells that have been determined to provide substantial power for the alternative semi-trucks.

Toyota and Kenworth both assert that this move was motivated by environmental awareness, but it coincidentally is a politically popular move. They are seeking to eliminate air pollution caused by heavy trucking routes and develop more sustainable practices to propel trucking into the future of fuel technology.

This truck is suspected to be slightly more affordable upfront, since the funding for the research and production of these vehicles was partially funded by government initiatives that sought to reduce large masses of harmful emissions, which pose a threat to public health. Public funding will most likely lower final costs to consumers as those expenses aren’t factored into base costs.

Electric vs Hydrogen Fuel Cell Power

Both hydrogen-fuel cell powered trucks and full-electric trucks have their individual benefits in respect to efficiency and reductions in emissions, but it’s hard to definitively say which is the superior choice for a trucker seeking zero-emissions options. The final decision will depend on the individual needs of each route.

Additional factors such as charging/fueling opportunities and availability can sway the practicality option of these developments drastically. Developing charging stations and fueling ports for hydrogen cells will require substantial updates to major highways and interstate peel-offs in order to accommodate the long, often expansive routes of cargo delivery drivers. If this trend flourishes, alternative fueling stations will need to massively grow in abundance to accommodate the nature of the industry itself.

The trucking industry contains infinite intricacies that can often be complex and unpredictable, so it’s immensely important to properly educate yourself before exploring any type of alternate semi-truck options. Even if you’re not ready to commit to the investment of alternatively powered semi-trucks, there are lots of ways fleet owners can conserve fuel and help reduce emissions. Check out other helpful tips and keep up with the latest industry news with Mission Financial.

DOT Overturns California Trucking Regulations

 

California tried to update its trucking laws to more closely resemble a typical work environment but was recently overruled. In an office setting, it’s suggested that employees take frequent breaks to stretch and refocus. Getting up from a desk and getting time away from the harsh blue light of a computer can be helpful for workplace wellness. While small breaks throughout the day are fine when you have to merely stand up from a desk, frequent breaks are more of an interruption than a relief for truckers.  When government regulations attempt to force them into the same box as office workers, their needs aren’t being properly met.

California’s Strict Break Requirements   

Typically, drivers get a 30-minute meal break per day and are not permitted to drive for more than 11 hours at a time. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit passed a law in 2014 that required California drivers to take a paid 10-minute break every 4 hours and a 30-minute meal break every 5 hours. The breaks were also required to be taken separately as to further break up driving. The law also pushed back total driving time allotted to 12 hours before stopping for the day to sleep and rest. These regulations are considerably stricter than the surrounding states’ rules, particularly the 10-minute break requirement that only adds tediousness to a drive. The inconsistency between states has drivers fearing for the efficiency and predictability of their routes.

Flaws in the Plan

While consistent breaks work effectively in a traditional office environment, the trucking industry is unique and doesn’t conform to the same standards of a typical workplace. After the passing of this law, national protest came from industry officials and benefactors alike. One group in particular who signed numerous petitions was the American Trucking Association (ATA). The law was designed by people who were supposedly unfamiliar with what truckers and transport businesses actually want and need. The law would greatly differ from regulations in other states, and therefore robs drivers of their consistency and routine. Having such different regulations from one state to another doesn’t allow truckers to properly plan their meal breaks and rest stops, as the timing would become complicated and tiresome.

Additionally, stopping too frequently breaks up work flow in a way that can actually be more tiring for drivers. In a more conventional office, breaks might help to relax and ease the stress of a workday, but for truckers, it can do the opposite. It also significantly cuts down on efficiency, so it’s a taxing financial regulation as well; less productive drivers mean longer transport times and more money spent per route. More time pulling off of the highway to take excessive breaks leads to less distance covered per day and therefore higher costs for transported product and harm done to the American consumer. In fact, driver productivity in California was reduced by three percent after these regulations were passed, according to an FMCSA Administrator.

FMCSA Grants Petitions

In 2018, the ATA filled a petition with the Department of Transportation (DOT) that proved all of the following points:

  • “California’s meal period and rest break laws offer no additional safety benefit beyond the safety benefit generated by the hours-of-service requirements
  • The laws are incompatible with the hours-of-service regulations enforced by the Department of Transportation
  • The meal and rest break laws cause an unreasonable burden to drivers and carriers operating in interstate commerce”

After a long debate, the DOT and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) granted the petition, stating that California trucking companies were no longer required to provide paid rest and meal breaks. While the law was initially set in place to create safer driving conditions for truckers, industry gurus asserted that more national consistency would lead to safer trucking practices as opposed to additional breaks.

Standards for American Drivers

While regulations that require excessive breaks can be a burden for productivity, the intent behind the California law was to decrease worker exploitation in the trucking industry, which is a persistent problem. Commercial truck drivers are often forced to work long hours without substantial breaks, and while California overstepped in execution, the industry is making strides by putting these necessities in a federally sanctioned domain. Truckers already work some of the country’s longest and most tiresome hours in our nation and need helpful standards to prevent their hard work from being exploited. Now that California trucking companies are no longer required to provide paid breaks, drivers can choose when and how they take them.

Why Military Veterans Should Consider a Career in Trucking

According to the United States Bureau of Transportation Statistics, as of March 2019, trucks traveling between the United States and Canadian borders and between the United States and Mexican borders carried 62.8% of all transborder freight, representing a value of $67.4 billion.

According to the American Trucking Association, domestically, trucks carry nearly 71% of all the freight tonnage moved within the United States and that percentage will most likely increase. Trucks deliver the California produce that you buy at your local grocery store, the Mexican avocados you use to make guacamole, the huge machinery and equipment used in commercial construction, the material used to build houses, and the cars you buy at your local dealership. There are many facets of our economy that rely on the trucking industry.

Military Veteran Skills Valued by the Trucking Industry

Continued economic growth leads to continued growth in transportation, especially in respect to long-haul trucking. As luck would have it, there are many skills often found in military service veterans that closely parallel those required and valued by the commercial trucking industry, according to Roadmaster Driving School. Here are the top reasons why military veterans are well-prepared for a career in the trucking industry.

Aware of Surroundings

Driving a big rig requires you to be aware of your surroundings at all times; in the military, this is referred to as situational awareness. You need to know where you are and exactly where others are relative to you. You also need to be aware of impending weather changes, changing road conditions, and detours.

Logistical Efficiency  

The trucking industry values veterans’ abilities to be effective and efficient when accomplishing tasks. Performing logistics tasks such as route planning efficiently and effectively help keep costs in check.

Ability to Adapt

Closely related to situational awareness is adaptability. As in the military, conditions can change and evolve faster than you realize. You must be able to adapt to all sorts changes – weather, other drivers’ actions, and road conditions are just a few examples.

Mental Endurance

All military branches focus on building and maintaining both physical and mental endurance because your life, as well as the lives of your squad, depend on being able to keep your eyes on the prize for extended periods of time. When driving a long-haul route, which can often last several weeks, you must be able to stay focused and fresh. As a veteran, you’ll definitely have an advantage in this domain.

Sense of Responsibility

The military teaches the importance of taking responsibility and being accountable for your actions and outcomes. The outcome that all professional long-haul truck drivers strive to meet is that of delivering their shipments to their destinations safely and on schedule.

Understanding of Teamwork

There’s an old saying: “There is no ‘I’ in team.” It’s a lesson the military quickly and effectively teaches. When your squad has to accomplish a mission, everyone must work for the betterment of the crew – even when you work independently and alone. The same holds true in the trucking industry. Teamwork from everyone involved in a successful delivery – you, the dispatcher, the operations manager – is a must.

Respect for Others

Respect is highly valued not only within the military, but within the trucking industry and every aspect of life. Respecting everyone you encounter on the job will go a long way, and respect will come back to you in return– in spades – and will help you advance further in the industry.

Military Experience Offers Advantages to Truck Drivers

If you drove a heavy vehicle while in the military, you already have an advantage over most civilians. If you have a military CDL, you can waive the civilian CDL skills test, which is typically required to obtain a license. If you worked with hazardous materials, you could qualify for higher-paying loads. G.I. Bill benefits may cover weeks-or months-long training programs offered by the best truck driving companies for veterans. You can also get paid via a stipend to learn your new driving skills in these military apprenticeship programs.

The personal qualities and life skills obtained from military training make veterans the among the safest and most sought-after drivers on the road. Regardless of the reason you joined the military, you supported and defended your country. As a professional truck driver, you can continue to support your country because without professional drivers, the country’s economy, its lifeblood, will cease to flow. Your work will help keep your country’s economy vibrant and alive. Get pre-approved for your semi-truck loan and get out on the road today.

Why June is Considered a Pivotal Month for the Spot Market

 

2018 was a booming year for the trucking industry’s spot market. A corporate tax cut unleashed a strong demand for all types of freight services, creating tighter capacity, higher volumes, and stronger pricing power throughout the trucking industry. The U.S. tariff that threatened a penalty of 25 percent on $200 billion dollars of Chinese products caused huge amounts of early shipments of goods to be moved in Q3 and Q4 of 2018. Earlier in 2018, trucking firms added to their fleets to handle the increased demand.

The trucking industry, or rather the flow of shipments facilitated by the trucking industry, is one of the leading indicators of the United States’ economic health. As such, the industry is a proverbial parakeet in the coal mine; it feels the effects of any economic turbulence before most of the industries and businesses it serves. So, why did the first half of 2019 tell a different story from the previous year?

Weaker European Economy

Several factors sparked major shifts within the trade world. A weaker European economy and Great Britain’s “Brexit” have created a plethora of trade uncertainties within the area and throughout all of their trading opportunities in the Eurozone.

Weather Events

Weather events affected food and crop availability in early 2019 throughout the United States. When crops fail, or harvests are delayed, they might not need to be transported at all or their transport occurs later than it normally would, which affects the normal rhythms of the supply chain. In effect, shipping volume decreases while trucks not being used at their normal rates become available and create excess capacity. Lower shipping volumes coupled with higher capacity means too many trucks for too few transports. That was, and is, a recipe for softer rates, which is exactly what came to fruition.

New Tariffs

Tariffs, or the threat of their implementation, have been the broadsword that the United States has used to drive trade negotiations and agreements throughout industries and nations, especially with respect to China and Mexico. Regardless of your opinion regarding the tactic, tariffs and their related negotiations take time to resolve and close. In so doing, they introduce uncertainty into the business landscape due to the businesses affected by them not knowing the final outcome. This uncertainty persists until a negotiation closes and the affected businesses understand the terms of the resulting agreement.

The United States has placed tariffs on a variety of goods that businesses import from a variety of countries. In response, these countries have retaliated, placing tariffs on goods they import from the U.S.

If there is one thing businesses dislike, it is uncertainty. What happens during times of uncertainty? Businesses temporarily retrench until they can determine the eventual impacts – plans may never come to fruition or can be postponed; manufacturing slows down; orders are canceled; and shipments get canceled. All decisions reside in a “wait-and-see” mode and it takes large amounts of time for companies to return to a “business-as-usual” rhythm.

You may be asking, “Which industries have been affected?” An easier question to ask may be, “Which have not been affected?” Some of the industries caught in the crosshairs include the agricultural industry, the automotive industry, the telecommunications industry, the semiconductor industry, the energy industry, and the construction industry. All of these industries rely on big rigs to transport their goods.

Housing Starts Slump

In comparison to former years, housing starts declined by 4.7 percent as of May 2019. Fewer housing starts reduce demand for the various products used in housing construction, which in return lowers manufacturing output as well as the amount and types of product to be transported to their various destinations. This once again means lower shipping volume on the spot market, mostly for flatbeds, but this could affect the demand for reefers and vans, too.

June 2019 and Forward

May’s load count numbers continued in a downward fashion and disappointed those within the industry greatly. However, signs of a June rebound are now being discovered. An abundant capacity still exists within the spot market, but so does a relatively strong, growing capacity for volume.

Seasonal shipments come with the warmer weather during this time of year, and stored goods are moving towards the east from the west. This removes capacity from the spot market because the time it takes for a truck to make a round-trip is higher, which may nudge up rates.

Speaking of which, the average national DAT truckload June rates for vans, flatbeds, and reefers moved upward to $1.90, $2.30, and $2.25, respectively. These rates represent a roughly 6.1 percent rate increase for vans, a 0.9 percent rate increase for flatbeds, and an approximately 4.6 percent rate increase for reefers. A portion of a month does not necessarily indicate a steady trend, but it is an increase over the month of May across the board that many hope will continue for the rest of the year.

No one can say for sure, indeed, several market analysts see continued clouds for the industry. However, DAT market analysts see cause for optimism. They indicate a slow, steady year-over-year growth in spot freight volumes, with the only drag on rates being excess spot market capacity due to the fact that trucking demand did not grow as fast as capacity. Seasonal freight movement, as well as the resolution of tariffs, may help to consume existing excess capacity and help boost spot market rates.

Stay tuned for more updates on the freight industry and changes in spot market trends.

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