There are plenty of reasons to become an owner-operator, but there's only one reason to buy a truck for your business: to generate revenue. Selecting the right truck is all about matching your purchase to your operations as best you can. This approach ensures that your rig will provide the best possible value, allowing it to generate the revenue you need to keep operating.
If you're buying used, the process is essentially the same as buying new. You still need to choose a truck that meets your business specifications, even if you aren't building your rig line-by-line at the dealer. Before you start planning on the truck you need, make sure you understand these critical specs that will influence how well this asset performs for your business.
1. Aerodynamic vs. Classic Styles
Drivers have plenty of opinions on the style of aerodynamic trucks vs. classic models, but remember that these designs are functional more than aesthetic. Aerodynamic models attempt to increase overall fuel efficiency by reducing the vehicle's drag coefficient. Large, flat surfaces facing into the direction of travel can substantially increase drag, ultimately leading to higher fuel costs.
Typical aerodynamic options include cab-top deflectors, cab-mounted side wings, and vortex generators fitted to the trailer. Many manufacturers offer these as options on their trucks from the factory. If you're considering multiple used models, it's worth doing the math on potential cost savings vs. the price of these modifications. You may find that the long-term benefits far outweigh the upfront cost.
2. DPF, EGR, and Emissions Compliance
When purchasing a used truck, you'll have options that may not meet current regulatory standards. In general, trucks manufactured before the 2007 model year are pre-DPF vehicles. These trucks don't include a diesel particulate filter, which can potentially mean better fuel economy, better performance, and even improved reliability.
If you're looking at much older trucks, vehicles before 2002 are also pre-EGR (exhaust gas recirculation). These trucks have much more straightforward emissions systems, potentially leading to even better fuel economy. However, it's critical to keep in mind that these vehicles may not meet regulatory standards in some states, so be sure you consider where you'll be operating your rig.
3. Gear Ratio and Engine RPM
Your rear-end gear ratio can substantially affect your truck's fuel economy. A higher numerical gear ratio means the input shaft turns faster relative to the wheels, leading to higher RPMs at speed but more available torque. Lower ratios reduce torque but allow the engine to run at a lower RPM at the same road speed. In simple terms, the trade-off is between power and fuel efficiency.
Consider your loads, routes, and the "sweet spot" for your truck's engine when selecting a gear ratio from Arrow Truck Sales. You'll achieve the best efficiency with a rear-end ratio that keeps your tachometer in the most efficient RPM range, allowing you to save money on fuel and ultimately generate more profit.