If you want to further your career with a truck startup, leasing a semi-trailer truck is probably the best way forward. Usually, people starting in business have financial limitations, so buying a semi-truck, also known as an articulated truck, semi–trailer, or transport-truck, is out of the question. Instead, leasing for a small or no down payment and a set fee each month is a more affordable way of becoming an owner-operator.
If you choose against buying, semi-truck leasing prices range from $800 to $2,800/month. Moreover, insurance sits around $1,000/month.
A tractor-trailer combination is indispensable for most haulage work. You have a trailer to go with the truck, and you hire yourself out. However, haulage companies often contract an owner–operator‘s tractor unit to pull pre-loaded trailers from A to B and return with another trailer. Fortunately, the hitch (or fifth wheel) between the two parts is universal throughout the USA. So, a driver only needs the tractor or transfer truck to earn a living.
Although commercial truck leasing rates look more expensive than a standard car lease, many owner-operators regularly bring in revenuers of tens of thousands a month. Therefore, there‘s no problem keeping up with the monthly or weekly semi-truck rental prices.
How Much Does It Cost To Lease A Semi-Truck?
Commercial truck leasing prices differ according to your specific lease agreement. But, to get an idea of ballpark figures, we‘ve outlined some typical lease rates.
If you‘re an inexperienced truck driver, the lease provider will probably want a down-payment as well as the standard monthly charge. Similarly, if you have a poor credit rating, you have to pay a very high down payment, or you might not be able to lease at all. In comparison, the lease company will usually waive the deposit for a more experienced driver with many more years of cross-state road driving. Typical down payments can run up to $1,000 or more.
Used vs. new
Probably, the most affordable semi-truck leasing deal will be for a pre-owned model. It‘s also a good place to start if you want an individual semi-truck or are building up a business fleet.
A typical, used semi-truck leasing deal starts at around $800/month and rises to around $1,600/month. In contrast, a new tractor-trailer rig lease costs from $1,500 to $2,500.
There are a few extras you must incorporate into your calculations. Firstly, lease providers usually expect your lease payments to be monthly, but some expect weekly payments. The option depends on the company‘s policy.
Next, you must include costs of insurance when leasing a truck. Insurance payments vary depending on your experience on the road and the size of your vehicle. Typical insurance premiums cost between $800 and $1,500/month.
As you probably already know, controlling a tractor and trailer is difficult. Therefore, it needs skill and experience to drive safely. That‘s why a truck driver in the USA needs a Commercial Driver‘s License (CDL) regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). In practice, the federal laws state the general requirements while the State laws specify the application process and age requirements. Finally, the vehicle‘s gross weight (the GVWR) dictates the CDL class you need. So, although this might sound obvious, only lease a vehicle that you have a license for.
Variety of choice
Be aware of the competition in the state where you live. Depending on the variety of vehicles available, you might find that the cost to rent a semi-truck is cheaper in a neighboring state.
Fuel & maintenance
Finally, you must plan for fuel and maintenance. Fuel costs depend on how many miles you travel, your load’s weight, and the gas station’s price. However, care and maintenance are very important, and the contract specifies the terms. Unlike many other leased equipment, the maintenance is down to you, the owner-operator. But check the small print, just in case. If you are responsible for repairs, most lease providers insist that you set up an escrow account. Then, you set aside a specified amount each month that should cover maintenance work.
Semi-Truck Leasing Rates Factors
There are a few factors that affect the lease rates and lease agreements for commercial semi-trucks. We‘ll now highlight a few of these.
Standard Lease Provisions
Semi-truck leasing companies are in the business to make money. Therefore, expect your credit rating to be researched as if you‘re applying for any other type of loan. Additionally, you must pass certain driving-specific conditions.
- Your credit history must be good enough to satisfy the company that you‘re not a credit risk.
- You have enough revenue to guarantee you can pay the lease payments.
- You must be at least 21 years of age.
- No more than three traffic violations and no more than two incidents in the last three years.
- You must have no driving violations involving alcohol or drugs in the previous ten years.
- Driver must hold a valid CDL-A license.
- Driver must pass a specified medical examination.
- Must keep the vehicle insured at all times in line with the
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s insurance requirements.
- And the individual states through which the truck travels.
- Depreciation accounts for the largest part of the lease premium you pay.
- Tax varies with the state in which you live. In most states, lease rates invite surcharges for depreciation and interest payments.
- The interest charged on the truck‘s cost is the lease company‘s profit. They charge you an acquisition fee and monthly interest based on the vehicle‘s condition.
Check what type of lease the provider offers. Depending on your circumstances, you might find it better to have a ‘walk-away lease,’ also known as a closed-end lease. This lease refers to the situation where you hand in the vehicle and walk away from it, rather than having to buy the semi-truck at the lease‘s termination.
Mileage & Travel Distance
Most semi-truck leases include a mileage limit. Choose the limit that works best for you. If you only expect to travel in-state, your mileage will be far less than if you work across many states.
Generally, 750,000 miles is considered high mileage for a semi-truck. After this, the vehicle will need a major overhaul. But, be aware that the lease might specify a maximum number of miles per year as well. If you go over the limit, you might have to pay extra on the lease premium.
Some contracts specify fuel charges too. Usually, the company supplies the vehicle with a full tank of fuel and expects a full tank on return.
The duration of your semi-truck lease depends on many factors. Before agreeing on a truck lease, decide on the kind of term you prefer and the monthly payment you can afford. Most lease providers offer plans ranging from 12 to 72 months, and the overall price will vary accordingly.
Maintenance & Repair provisions
Check that you know who is responsible for repairs and maintenance. Usually, the owner-operator must pay for all repairs. Moreover, some lease contracts specify that you must place specific amounts of money into an escrow account for various repair categories. However, it‘s common for the contract terms to make the escrow money inaccessible. For example, the account holding money for tires might have $1,000 in it. Still, the lease provider‘s terms are that only tire expenses over $500 can access the fund. In this case, you end up paying out of your own pocket all the costs below $500.
Likewise, the lease contract terms might specify that only a registered repair shop can do the work. This clause means that even if you’re very competent at repairing trucks, you can‘t do the work yourself and save money unless you’re a registered vehicle repair company.
Your agreement with the provider must specify the fees you might be charged if you decide to terminate the lease early. Finishing a lease before the agreed time always costs a lot more than you think. Unless specified otherwise, you usually have to pay the provider a minimum of all the interest owed up to the contracted finishing date, plus an administration charge.
If you live in a particular state with many providers, you‘ll find that competition improves the deals. Many competing suppliers in the same area reduce costs and improve the range of vehicles available.
Many providers have depots in other states. Don‘t be tempted to return a truck to a location different from where you hired it. If you do, the provider will charge additional payments. They’ll also charge you more if you return the semi-truck later than expected.
Many providers specify in the lease contract that you must buy an LDW (Loss Damage Waiver) or a CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) insurance plan. These cover the vehicle for damage in case of a collision or theft. Check whether your existing insurance company provides these plans. Typically, collision coverage for a semi-truck costs between $800 and $1,600/month. Remember, this is for only one vehicle, so if your business owns a fleet, you must buy one for each truck. However, it‘s common for insurance companies to cover your fleet and your business under one blanket policy. Furthermore, shop around for prices as the premiums vary depending on coverage and conditions.
New vs. Used Trucks
Let‘s talk about the age of a vehicle. A new truck will always cost more than an old or used one. At first glance, an old truck might seem like a good deal. But, age brings with it the problems of fuel economy, ease of maintenance, and durability. Therefore, these problems reduce the demand for older trucks.
Have a good look at the condition of the body and engine before you take it away. Particularly, look out for:
- Dents and rust.
- Other visible marks such as scratches and paint chips.
- Hidden damage in the chassis and engine.
- Ask the provider if the truck has been in any major incidents that might cause structural misalignment.
- If you aren’t mechanically minded, hire an expert to look over the vehicle. The outlay will be worth it.
Leasing a semi-truck is no different from hiring any other vehicle or applying for a bank loan. The provider will check your credit history in every case.
If you have a poor credit rating, you‘ll probably find that low-interest and no-down-payment agreements are out of your league. In general, a poor credit history will mean either no lease at all or a large down-payment and higher interest rates. In some cases, you might also have to place a security deposit to secure the transaction.
Those companies who offer leases for people with bad credit histories charge a down-payment of around $1,000 or more, depending on your score.
Some leasing companies offer a special rate for ‘bulk‘ leases if you want more than one truck. You‘ll find that the ‘incentive‘ varies depending on how many trucks you decide to have. Ask your provider if you qualify for a bulk discount on the rental cost.
However, before you put your name on the dotted line, check that you can afford the additional payments. Get a quote from various companies and check out the various lease options. You might want different categories of trucks and vans for separate contracts. So go with the company that can supply all the vehicles rather than cherry-pick from various suppliers.
Many owner-operators prefer to have their trucks customized. Some customizations include the following:
- Bed liners.
- First aid kits.
- Fire extinguishers.
- Back-up horns.
Generally, you’ll end up paying slightly higher lease prices for the add-ons. But, it‘s better to have additional equipment done by the provider before you collect.
Is It Better To Lease Or Buy A Semi-Truck?
One of the main answers to this question depends on your finances. If you‘re a newcomer to trucking, it might be better to lease a rig rather than buy one outright. Trucks are expensive. Purchasing an average semi-truck will set you back from $115,000 to $200,000, depending on the type you want. Moreover, if you decide that life trucking on the open road isn‘t for you, it‘s easier to end a lease than to sell your rig.
If you lease a truck, you can usually afford a more up-to-date model than if you purchased outright. And, you‘ll have fewer maintenance costs with a newer model too.
With a leased rig, you‘ll be able to upgrade to a truck with better features than you might not have been able to afford at the beginning.
However, there are disadvantages too.
By leasing, the rig isn‘t yours to do with as you want. You end up paying more for the rig throughout the lease than you would if you bought it outright.
You should inspect lease contracts thoroughly, or better yet, hire an attorney to do it for you. Otherwise, you might end up trapped in an agreement you can‘t afford.
Get Commercial Truck Leasing Quotes
If you‘re starting in the trucking business or want to increase your fleet, you often can‘t afford to buy the trucks yourself. Try applying for a lease to cover the costs. You’ll pay more for the privilege of the lease, but it‘s usually worthwhile in the long term.
If you want help finding semi-truck leasing prices you can afford, complete the form on this page. You‘ll have 2 to 3 truck leasing companies get in touch almost immediately.
Jason is a B2B sales veteran spanning 3 decades and Founder of ApprovedCosts. Jason has scaled sales and marketing teams at a variety of enterprises and is a recognized expert in the field. Jason holds an MBA from NYU Stern School of Business.