Whether to rebuild a big rig or purchase new.
We asked several experienced truckers and big rig mechanics their view point about rebuilding an older model truck vs. buying new, looking for the best choice for an owner operator.
By William McKelvie (NC, USA)
This is the last truck I plan on owning. Sure, the new truck dealers scream better fuel mileage, but they surely do not tell you about the numerous problems with sensors and other emissions related parts.
What good is better fuel mileage if your truck is sitting in the shop while the technicians look or try to find which sensor is doing what? Or your truck will not regen?
Then, we hear the argument that the fuel savings alone will cover the cost of the monthly payment? Well, that math does not work for me.
Forgetting the cost of DEF fluid, plus DPF cleaning, plus the DPF injector. What? What’s that the DPF has an injector? Well how else is that thing going to burn off all that soot? An electric heater?
I have no truck payment, just the repair bills. Most of my BIG repairs have already been done. What’s left now? Tires and brakes and changing the fluids on a regular basis.
Mileage? Better mileage is a JOKE! The mileage drops significantly due to regen burns….high temps….power robbing emissions! New = Junk. Thank you EPA. I’ll rebuild my truck before ever thinking of buying new.
Not Buying New (By Pirate CDL) I have a 2006 International 9900I with 850,000 miles on it and it runs like a top. I average 8 mpg. I use synthetic blend oil and change it every 20,000 miles and grease it weekly. I will never buy a new truck. Yes, I have to make occasional repairs, but it’s better than the cost of a new truck. I might not be able to go to California, but I don’t care. I will continue to make upgrades on my rig and not worry about truck payments.
Keeping my old truck (By Rene Mineault) Go for it and rebuild. I’m doing it too… I’ll keep rebuilding my 1984 Peterbilt 359.
Rebuild a big rig, I say. (By David King) I do all my repairs myself. I had a head gasket blown… I took it off and took it to ‘Cat‘ and they tried to talk me in to letting them rebuild my engine. They told me my head was junk, but I didn’t think so.
I bought a head gasket set and number four injector and spacer plate, and put it together. It’s still running after 140,000 miles. The cost if I remember correctly, was around $1400.00! My transmission started making odd sounds and I pulled it out and put a new clutch and new bearing kit in it. It’s running like new for $1400… a remade transmission would have been $6500 plus labor.
There’s no way I could stay trucking with the fuel rate so high and depending on shop repairs. My friend has 2 trucks, a 2011 Peterbilt and a 2010 Kenworth with a Cummins in them… in the last 5 months, he has spend about $20,000 to $30,000 on them and still isn’t getting the fuel mileage that I do with my 2001 Pete and Cat motor.
So this is my last truck… if I wear it out, I’ll just retire!
New vs. Rebuilding (By Kaskae) I am the lead mechanic for a severe use fleet.
We have often dealt with the question of buying new or rebuilding. We average a new truck about every 6 years in a fleet of 21 tractors. At that point, we retire one of our old trucks. Our fleet has trucks from a vintage 1984 Auto car ( I just had to rebuild this one) to 2012 models with the majority of the fleet being 1999-2001.
We have Peterbilts, T800 Kenworths and Internationals. We run Cummins engines on all. That said, I think if you have good mechanical skills, rebuilding is a good option. Engines and trannies are cheap when you the consider the cost of new ones.
However, if you are paying a shop to install these, the ROI can tilt the other way fast with dealer shop labor rates. Also, what are you going to use the truck for? OTR or specialized?
Our severe use trucks are vacuum pump trucks manufactured in Canada by Presvac. These trucks can cost over $500,000 USD when new so rebuilding makes good sense for sure. If I were looking for an OTR truck, I think I would look at used fleet models before I looked at new simply from a cost standpoint.
Most of these trucks have had good maintenance, so if you can change brakes, wheel seals, tires etc., these might be a good choice. I think much of the choice one makes depends on how much work on an old vehicle you can do and how much you have to ‘farm’ out to a dealer or heavy truck mechanic, and if you have the ready cash to pay for parts and repairs up front.
Many of the guys I see driving brand new trucks are buying them, because the financing was right for them. They did not need to come up with a lot of cash to repair/rebuild an older truck, or they drive in California.
The main problem I see with a new truck is it costs so much to run and maintain that many people who were looking for freedom on the highway, find they have simply bought a low paying truck driving job.
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