A common question among truckers looking to become owner operators is what truck they should buy. Two of the top contenders are Kenworth & Peterbilt. They both have an exceptional reputation for being dependable, high quality trucks.
So, how do you choose? Well, as far as quality goes, it might help you to know that they’re both manufactured by the same company. That’s right. Both of these trucks are made by PACCAR, which comes as no surprise when you consider that they’re the best Class 8 trucks around.
Why are Kenworths & Peterbilts the best trucks?
There are many reasons that Kenworth and Peterbilt have consistently been recognized, recommended and requested by truckers all around North America. Aside from having an extensive dealership network and strong customer service, they also are simply built better with more intelligent designs and sturdy materials.
Related > Gallery of Custom Kenworth Trucks
The Class 8 Market Share for Trucks
Let the numbers do the talking.
Freightliner right now controls around 37% of market share, but they’ve been losing this over the last few years. They initially had better than 50% of the Class 8 market because they could mass produce trucks at a lower price.
There are some little guys in there picking away; Volvo, Mack, International, for instance, they all have about each 10% of the market share. But the really big players are Freightliner and PACCAR.
Over the years, truckers have begun to notice that Freightliner has been putting out poor quality vehicles that need constant repairs. Truck buyers now just can’t afford the downtime with a profit margin so thin. Poor build and poor quality control have resulted in Freightliners steadily losing market share to PACCAR. PACCAR now controls about 28% of market share.
Even the fleets are starting to get away from Freightliner because they can’t afford the downtime and they’re trying to attract drivers. Even the big fleets like Steven’s Transport in Dallas buy quality PACCAR equipment. Why? Because no one’s going to jump from a brand new T680 at Stevens to a Freightliner at Swift transport. It’s part of retaining your drivers. Lately, drivers are as hard to find as hen’s teeth.
So, why is PACCAR the best and gaining more and more of the market share? The primary reason is that they’re experiencing less downtime.
Fewer Repairs, Less Downtime
Anyone who has ever owned a vehicle knows that you can either face major (and pricey) malfunctions or you can just as easily be nickel and dimed to death on the little stuff. It’s no different for a big rig.
These days with freight rates being at the bottom, you’ve got to maximize the use of your equipment and you just cannot afford downtime.
The big guys and the little guys are going to PACCAR because they’re experiencing less mechanical issues with their trucks than they were with Freightliner, Volvo, and Mack. International has been a disaster as far as breakdowns and emissions are concerned. So many truck drivers are staying with the more dependable Kenworth & Peterbilt trucks.
I know that the Freightliners are cheaper to get into these days. But that lower initial investment sometimes comes back to bite you. I also know a whole lot of guys that have gone the Freightliner route and have had a whole lot of issues with them. Sometimes these issues wind up costing them more in the long run than spending more on a nice Peterbilt truck to begin with.
To add insult to injury, I’ve heard of Freightliner stepping away from a damaged vehicle and telling the owner-operator to “Live with it. Deal with it. Good luck.”
Better Quality: Freightliner vs. Peterbilt
Let me tell you an example of one little experience I had with Freightliner. A buddy of mine and I were getting ready to go load in Salinas in the morning. I had a Pete. He had a Freightliner. They’re both the same age with virtually the same mileage.
We go to leave the lot. He pushes in the clutch and the clutch linkage snaps. So not a big problem, something we can get to and still make our appointments. We took apart his clutch linkage and I couldn’t believe how thin the metal was.
The rods on his clutch were thinner than pencils. Whereas the clutch rods on my Peterbilt were quite beefy.
This Freightliner was put together with such flimsy parts it is no wonder they are a little lighter. Everything was always an issue with these trucks because they couldn’t take the pounding from the road.
Meanwhile, Kenworth & Peterbilt cabs have the best seal in the industry. They’re the best insulated. Look at the wiring and the routing of the airlines; best in the industry, less trouble because they’re properly routed and wrapped, protecting the lines from chafing.
PACCAR’s Peterbilts and Kenworths are built from sturdier equipment. And when you’re pounding in 500,000 – 800,000 miles; it’s important to have sturdy equipment.
A major benefit to PACCAR’s Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks is that they’ve got the best dealership network available. PACCAR usually has both Peterbilt and Kenworth dealers in the same town which doubles the number of dealerships available to you.
Also, because they control less market share than Freightliner, those two dealerships are usually a little easier to get to rather than the lonely Freightliner dealer that’s just booked with problems all the time. You could wait a couple weeks to get into a Freightliner dealer despite advertising 24/7 service. While that’s a great sales pitch, it’s no good if you can’t get in.
I’ve never been in a situation yet where I couldn’t get into a PACCAR dealership.
They have better quality control of their vehicles which also means that they’re building a better truck. So, you’re experiencing less downtime, less shop time.
They’ve got the best classic truck appearance; they’ve got the best aerodynamic truck appearance. They’re building their own engines now, which means, it’s kinda like one stop shopping. If you need repairs or warranty work, you can go in for engine work or truck work.
That is highly important when you’re buying a truck. But even when you do experience a breakdown, you can rest assured that you’ll find a dealership that is happy to get you back on the road.
PACCAR does in-house financing as well for their Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks. That’s a huge time saver.
Why I Buy Kenworth & Peterbilt Trucks Every Time
In the course of my career, (since ’84) I’ve been buying PACCAR equipment there’s a lot I’ve come to expect from them.
- I’ve never had one lemon.
- I’ve never had one I was disappointed in.
- I’ve never had bad service from a dealership.
- I’ve never had major mechanical issues.
- I’ve had good trucks every time I bought one of their trucks.
- I have had some run for 10 years plus. In fact, including the one I’m running now is a 2004, still runs flawlessly.
- I’ve never had any warranty issues with any of them. They’ve been excellent trucks for me.
- They’ve all made me money and that’s what I’m in the business for, is to profit.
- If I did have an issue with any of my PACCAR trucks, they stood behind me 100% warranty and I was on my way again.
Now maybe for short haul work, if you want to save a little money, you could get away with buying a Freightliner. But in my experience in long haul, you have to have a good quality in the truck to do long haul and make money. You need to be able to rely on the thing.
I’ve always bought PACCAR and it has never let me down. The mark of a good truck is: If it’s making you money, that’s a good truck. But also remember you can’t eat sweet feet.
Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks have been leading in the marketplace because they are providing a quality truck and dependable service. They beat out the other guys because their trucks stay on the road longer and save you money. They have been the best for a long time and still are.