choosing a semi truck

Whether purchasing your first truck or upgrading to a newer model, buying a semi-truck is a significant investment that requires many considerations. As an owner-operator, your truck is the most essential piece of equipment that your entire business relies on. So, choosing the right truck is vital.

There are many types of semi-trucks out there, each catering to different trucking needs and preferences. The type you choose should be carefully selected based on the specifics of your trucking business.

In this guide, we’ll break down some of the most important things to remember to help you choose the right semi-truck as an owner-operator.

Choosing The Truck For New Owner Operators

As a semi-truck owner-operator, one of the most critical business decisions you need to make is choosing the right truck for your business. Unfortunately, there’s no single “best truck” for owner-operators.

Picking your semi-truck brand and model depends on your preferences and the type of work the truck will do. Of course, different trucks offer different benefits. These include improved fuel efficiency, greater power, increased comfort, and advanced features, like driver performance assist.

However, the vehicle you choose should depend on the type of work you do in the trucking industry and what kind of truck you prefer.


Points To Consider When Buying A Semi Truck

There’s a lot to consider when choosing the right semi-truck for your business needs. Here are a few important considerations to ensure you select a reliable semi-truck.

Budget Wisely

Determining a realistic budget is the all-important initial step in choosing a semi-truck. Consider not only the upfront cost but also ongoing expenses like maintenance, fuel efficiency, insurance, and potential repairs.

Once you have a budget, you can narrow down your list of semi-truck brands, models, and years.

Age of the Truck

Decide whether you prefer an older or newer truck.

Newer trucks generally offer updated technology, better fuel efficiency, and fewer maintenance issues. Older trucks might be cheaper initially but may require more frequent repairs.

Some drivers prefer older classic American semi-trucks as a personal choice, while others like the latest models from truck manufacturers. Of course, your budget will also dictate how old or new your chosen truck will be. Just keep in mind that financing older trucks can be more difficult.

Technical Requirements for Routes and Freight

Assess the technical specifications required for your trucking business.

Consider factors like engine power, axle configuration, load capacity, fuel efficiency, and adaptability to different road conditions. If you need to haul oversized loads or unique cargo (like a tanker), then make sure your truck aligns with these needs.

truck cab

Cab Type – Day Cab or Sleeper

Determine whether you need a day cab for shorter routes or a truck with a sleeper compartment for long-haul trips. Sleeper cabs offer resting space and amenities for drivers during overnight stops.

Semi trucks with a sleeper cab are more expensive but they are necessary for long-haul trucking.

Transmission Preference

Decide between a manual transmission for more control or an automated manual transmission (AMT) for ease of use and potentially better fuel efficiency. This really just comes down to your personal preference for driving.

State Regulations on Vehicle Emissions

Understand the emission regulations in the states where you operate. Some areas have strict emission standards that might affect your choice of truck or require additional modifications.

Business Operator Strengths

Consider your strengths as a business operator.

Are you proficient in maintaining and repairing vehicles, or do you rely heavily on maintenance services? This can influence the type of truck that best suits your operation.

Truck Make Preference

Do you have a preferred truck manufacturer based on reputation, previous experience, or reliability? Choosing from the best semi-truck brands that you trust is always a good call.


Identify any specific features or necessities that you need for your operations.

This might include advanced safety systems, comfort amenities, specific engine specifications, or warranty considerations.

truck use

Best Trucks For Long-Haul

Choosing the right truck for long-haul operations should come down to the vehicle’s reliability, comfort, fuel efficiency, and performance.

While this can vary depending on specific preferences and needs, here are some of the most popular options for long-haul trucking.

Volvo VNL Series

These trucks have earned a reputation for their comfort, safety features, and fuel efficiency.  They offer various sleeper cab options and advanced technology for long-haul comfort.

Freightliner Cascadia

These trucks have gained recognition for their fuel efficiency and aerodynamic design. This truck provides a range of sleeper cab configurations and advanced driver-assistance systems.

Kenworth T680/T880

The durability and driver comfort of these Kenworth trucks are renowned.  They offer customizable options for sleeper cabs and fuel-efficient engines.

Peterbilt 579/587

The main focus of these trucks is on fuel efficiency and aerodynamics. They provide sleeper cab options and have a reputation for reliability.

Mack Anthem

People know the Mack Anthem for its ruggedness and advanced safety features. This truck offers various sleeper cab configurations for long-haul comfort.
International LT Series

These popular trucks focus on providing driver comfort and fuel efficiency. They include sleeper cab options and advanced technology for long-haul operations.


Best For Short-Haul Trucking

For short-haul trucking, where frequent stops and local deliveries are common, versatility, maneuverability, and efficiency are crucial. Here are some of the most reliable semi-trucks for these types of operations.

Isuzu NPR Series

This type of truck is known for its compact size and maneuverability. It’s ideal for urban deliveries and smaller loads with good fuel efficiency.

Ford F-650/F-750

These trucks offer a range of configurations suitable for various short-haul tasks. They’re known for their reliability and versatility for local deliveries.

Hino 155/195 Series

These are compact and efficient trucks suitable for urban deliveries. They’re known for their maneuverability and reliability in city driving.

Freightliner M2 106

The Freightliner are versatile and customizable trucks for various short-haul applications. They offer good maneuverability and fuel efficiency for local deliveries.

Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra 4500/5500

These are solid and reliable trucks suitable for smaller-scale short-haul operations. They provide excellent versatility and ease of maneuverability for urban deliveries.

Ram 5500 Chassis Cab

These international trucks offer multiple configurations suitable for various short-haul tasks.
They’re known for their durability and capability for local deliveries.


Best For Local Trucking

Local trucking involves frequent stops, city driving, and shorter distances. So, you’ll want trucks that offer maneuverability, durability, and efficiency in urban environments. Here are some of the most popular options.

Isuzu N-Series (NPR/NQR)

Known for compact size and maneuverability, these trucks are ideal for urban deliveries. They offer good fuel efficiency and durability for local routes.

Ford Transit

A versatile truck that’s available in various sizes suitable for local deliveries. These trucks provide excellent agility and efficiency for navigating city streets.

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

This popular type of truck offers multiple body styles and configurations for local cargo transportation. It’s known for its comfort, efficiency, and maneuverability in urban settings.

Chevrolet Express/GMC Savana

Chevrolet Express are versatile vans suitable for various local delivery tasks. They’re durable and offer ample cargo space for urban deliveries.

Ram ProMaster

These smaller trucks offer customizable options for local cargo transportation. They’re known for their maneuverability and efficiency in city driving.

Nissan NV Series

The Nissan NV Series provides various configurations for local cargo transportation. They’re durable and reliable for urban delivery operations.

5 Best Semi-Truck Brands

A massive part of choosing the best semi-trucks comes down to the brand. Here are five of the most reputable and widely recognized semi-truck brands known for their quality, reliability, and performance in the industry.

Mack Trucks

Their durability and ruggedness have made Mack trucks renowned. They’re recognized for their robust construction and strength, making them popular choices for various hauling applications.



Freightliner offers a wide range of trucks suitable for different operations. They’re known for their innovation, efficiency, and advanced technology in trucking.


These trucks generally focus on customization and driver comfort. Kenworth trucks are popular for their reliability, versatility, and personalized options.

Volvo Trucks

Volvo takes up a huge share of the truck market. Volvo semi-trucks are focused on safety, fuel efficiency, and advanced technology. Volvo trucks are known for their innovation in safety features and environmental sustainability.


Peterbilt trucks offer a combination of performance and style. They’re recognized for their distinctive design, reliability, and customizable options.

Great Condition is a Priority .

Regardless of the make, model, or production year, it’s essential that the semi-truck you purchase is in great condition.

The overall quality, maintenance history, and current condition of your trucking equipment is more important than the specific brand or model you choose. Ensuring that your truck is in top-notch shape is crucial to its performance, reliability, and longevity, ultimately impacting the efficiency and success of your operations.

Regular maintenance, thorough inspections, and verifying the equipment’s condition before purchase are critical steps to ensure it meets the necessary standards for your business needs. A well-maintained vehicle will also help you avoid commercial truck accidents.

Final Thoughts

Whatever make or model of semi-truck you choose, make sure that you focus on finding a quality vehicle that has been well-maintained. Of course, the truck you choose should tick all of the right boxes for your business needs.

When purchasing a semi-truck, you’ll also need to make sure that you work with the right financing supplier. Get in touch with us at Mission Financial Services to discover just how easy semi-truck financing can be – even if you have poor credit or are looking for an older model of truck.

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