Why Kenworth and Peterbilt Trucks Are (Still) Better Than the Rest

2009 Peterbilt 389 Glider

A common question among truckers looking to become owner operators is what brand of truck they should buy.

Two of the top contenders are Kenworth and Peterbilt brands.

They both have an exceptional reputation for being dependable, high quality trucks.

As far as quality goes, it might help you to know that both the Kenworth truck and the Pete are both manufactured by the same company.

Red and White Kenworth Custom Semi Truck

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.

What Makes Kenworth & Peterbilt Such Great 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

Custom Kenworth Green Truck

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 big trucking fleets are starting to get away from Freightliner because they can’t afford the downtime. They are also 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 Kenworth at Stevens to a Freightliner at Swift Transport.

These trucking companies are trying to retain drivers.

And due to the ‘shortage of qualified truck drivers’, professional drivers are hard to find. 

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.

Related > The Peterbilt 379 Collection, King of the Highway

Blue 379 Peterbilt

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  on the low side, it’s necessary to maximize the use of the equipment. The truck owner cannot afford downtime. 

The big guys and the little guys are going to PACCAR because they’re experiencing fewer 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.

As a result, many truck  owners are staying with the more dependable Kenworth and Peterbilt truck brands.

Yes, the Freightliners are cheaper to buy.

But that lower initial investment sometimes comes back to bite you. I also know many owner operators who have purchased a Freightliner and have had a whole lot of  repair and maintenance issues with them.

Sometimes these issues wind up costing the truck owner more in the long run. Maybe better to buy 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.”

Related > Quick Guide to the Best Make of Truck For New Owner Operators

Red Kenworth Big Truck

Better Quality — Freightliner vs. Peterbilt

Cheap Thin Metal on the Freightliner.

Let me tell you an example of one little experience I had with Freightliner.

A friend of mine and I were getting ready to go load in Salinas, CA in the morning.

I was driving a Peterbilt at the time. He was driving a Freightliner. Both trucks were the same age with virtually the same mileage.

As we were leaving the parking lot, my friend pushes in the clutch. The clutch linkage snaps.

Not a big problem. This was something that could be easily dealt with and we would still make our pick up appointments. 

We took apart his clutch linkage. I was stunned about how thin the metal was.

The rods on his clutch were thinner than pencils.  In comparison, the clutch rods on my Peterbilt were quite beefy.

This Freightliner was put together with such flimsy parts it is no wonder Freightliner trucks are lighter weight than a Peterbilt.

Everything seemed to be an issue with these trucks because they couldn’t take the constant pounding and vibration from the road.

Kenworths and Peterbilt — Great Seals on the Cab, Best Insulated, Wiring + Routing A-1

Meanwhile, Kenworth and Peterbilt cabs have the best seal in the industry.

They’re also the best insulated trucks.

Just look at the wiring and the routing of the airlines — the best in the industry. There’s less trouble because they’re properly routed and wrapped to protect the lines from chafing. 

PACCAR’s Peterbilts and Kenworths are built  well resulting in sturdier equipment.

And when you’re pounding in 500,000 – 800,000 miles, it’s important to have sturdy equipment.

Related > The Ultimate Photo Collection of Peterbilt 389 Trucks

Red White Peterbilt 389 Truck With Stainless Tanker Trailer

Dealership Network

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 the truck owner. 

Because they control less market share than Freightliner, those two dealerships are usually a little easier to get a repair appointment, rather than the Freightliner dealer that’s just booked with problems galore!

A truck owner could potentially wait a couple weeks to get into a Freightliner dealer despite advertising 24/7 service.

While it’s a great sales pitch, it’s not much good if you can’t get a repair appointment asap.  Downtime for a truck owner is critical.

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. Less downtime, less shop time.

They’ve got the best classic truck appearance,  best aerodynamic truck appearance.

Paccar is also building their own engines now, which means it’s kinda like one stop shopping. If you need repairs or warranty work on your truck,  you can go in for engine work and/or truck repair.

This is so 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.

Related > 5 Reasons Truckers Loved the 359 Peterbilt Model

Blue and Black Peterbilt Truck

In-House Financing

PACCAR does in-house financing as well for their Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks. That’s can be a huge time saver for the owner operator. 

Related > 2004 Peterbilt 379: Reliable And In It For The Long Haul

2004 Peterbilt 379 Custom Rig Blue

Why I Buy Kenworth and Peterbilt Trucks, Every Time

In the course of my career, (since ’84) I’ve been buying PACCAR equipment.
Here’s why.

  1. I’ve never had one lemon.
  2. I’ve never had one I was even close to being disappointed in.
  3. I’ve never had bad service from a dealership.
  4. I’ve never had major mechanical issues with a Kenworth or a Peterbilt truck.
  5. A few of the trucks I’ve owned, I’ve kept for over 10 years or more. I currently own a 2004 Peterbilt 379, which still runs flawlessly. No engine rebuild ever or any major repairs.
  6. I’ve never had any warranty issues with any Paccar product.
  7.  Each of the Paccar trucks I’ve owned have made money for my trucking business. After all, that’s why were in trucking. Profit. 
  8. If I did have an issue of any sort with any of my PACCAR trucks, the company stood behind my warranty 100% . 

Perhaps for regional or short haul trucking, a Freightliner may be in order, so a truck owner could save a little money. 

But in my experience in long haul trucking it’s necessary to have a reliable, quality truck. ,

I’ve always bought PACCAR and it has never let me down. The mark of a good truck if it’s back on the road, asap after a breakdown. 

Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks have been leading in the marketplace because they are providing a quality truck and dependable service.

They have beat out the other manufacturers because their trucks stay on the road longer and in the long run, save the truck owner some money.

Peterbilt and Kenworth have been the best trucks I know of for a long time.

Kenworth Show Truck Orange White

And they still are.

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