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Reservations About Buying Used Trucks and Being an Owner-Operator

A recent r/Trucking user posed the question, "what stops most people from buying a used truck and being an owner-operator?"

Such a question is one that many people who are just getting into the industry might be wondering -- thus, the answers (from experienced truckers) are a great way to enlighten the community.

Here are some of the most complete and thorough responses:

1. "Then a month into your business you blow an engine.
There's risk with any small business, and if you're not smart, you can lose some money.
I know an owner op who is always bragging about how he makes "over $100k" a year. I know for a fact that at least half of that (before tax) went to repairs.
When you own a truck, you assume the risk. You're the one who will get sued, you're the one who eats the cost every time something goes wrong.
If that's the kind of stress you have no problem dealing with, and you've got some savings or credit that you think can cover a catastrophic mechanical failure, and you're up for the paperwork and bookkeeping, it might be for you. I know guys who became millionaires who started off by buying their own truck."

2. "It's a 1.25 to $1.50 per mile just to run (on average. repairs, deprecations, insurance, taxes etc, etc, etc.) So you need to take contracts that pay more than that just to make money.
Now, you actually have to deliver on time and the chances are fewer with older trucks. Sometimes stuff just breaks and sometimes stuff just wears out. I'm not sure what B50 is anymore, but around 2008, they were saying that B50 was around 750,000 miles. (B50 is when 50% of the engines are worn out and need to be replaced. you might do better you might do worse). Given the 2010 changes, the number has certainly gone down.
There's a reason the mega's get rid of tractors at the 500k mark. They have thousands of tractors and running the numbers they obviously see it's cheaper to get rid of it than keep it running. Think about the data they have at their fingertips and why they are getting rid of it."

The common theme amongst both answers is that you -- the sole owner, operator and money-contributor -- has to be prepared for anything, both the good and bad. The stress is too much to handle for some, but long-term monetary benefits propel the most dedicated and intelligent people forward.