Many of us either have our names on a lease or on a mortgage and which one we choose will depend on a number of circumstances and considerations. Owner operator commercial truck drivers have similar factors to consider when deciding whether to purchase or lease their commercial vehicle. A few things to consider when deciding whether to lease or purchase a commercial truck are:

  • How long do you plan to keep the vehicle?
  • What financing options are available for purchasing vs. leasing?
  • What are the tax implications or benefits?

Leasing a Commercial Vehicle: Pros and Cons

Leasing a commercial vehicle is much like paying monthly rent. The money that is paid on a monthly basis is for the use of commercial vehicle, but no ownership equity is ever realized. The leased vehicle remains the property of the company issuing the lease and they will continue to profit from your use of the vehicle. Rules and restrictions may be assigned to the lease, allowing for less control on behalf of the driver. Leases are typically structured for a set time period, ranging from one to three years and payments are required, without fail, for the complete term of the contract. If, at any point, you decide that you are no longer interested in continuing use of the semi truck, and early termination fee will be assessed and the security deposit will be forfeited.

The benefit of leasing is having increased flexibility and less commitment. Leasing commercial vehicles requires less upfront cash and monthly lease payments are usually less than finance payments. When the lease period has expired, the lessee can simply turn in the vehicle. Drivers may be able to claim tax deductions that are available for the use of leased vehicles as well. If you are not confident that you will be driving the commercial vehicle for a minimum of three years, leasing may be the best option for you.

Purchasing a Commercial Vehicle: Pros and Cons

A person who purchases a commercial truck has the assurances of ownership. From the time of the purchase, the truck is considered an asset that may be sold at any time. With each month’s payment, the vehicle gains equity. And, when the truck has been paid off, the driver may drive it indefinitely with no monthly payment. The truck may also be used as a valuable trade in when the driver decides to purchase a new commercial vehicle. Many truck drivers notice that insurance rates for commercial truck loans are often less than insurance for truck leases, which is another savings benefit.

Although commercial truck loan rules can vary among the types of commercial vehicles, there are some general financing details to consider. If you have been operating your business for a while and can demonstrate good cash flows, you are purchasing a newer truck, and you have reasonable credit, many times a down payment will not be required. As additional risk factors increase, the amount of a down payment needed for the semi truck loan may go up.

The industry trend has shown that serious, career truck drivers experience many benefits from owning their own vehicles. Ownership of a commercial vehicle is much like ownership of a home and the long term equity and freedom outweigh the short term benefits that may be experienced through leasing.

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