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How to Become an Owner-Operator 
 
by Allen Butler August 24, 2005

Buying a Truck

One of the most important parts of being an owner-operator is of course buying and owning your own truck. Trucks can be very expensive, and you can find that a large part of your profits in your first years on the road as an owner-operator are being eaten up simply paying off your truck.

The first concern when buying a truck is: do I want used or new? Used trucks are significantly cheaper than purchasing a new truck, but they are also of course used. They’ve already been on the road, and thus have a higher chance of running into mechanical problems. But there are many solid used trucks out there that could work perfectly for you.

Take your time in purchasing your new truck. When you buy your truck, you are putting your future into the hands of that truck. This is no minor decision, your business and your life are being dedicated to this truck. Get the best truck that you can afford, without overstepping yourself and putting yourself in a hole of debt so deep that you can’t climb out of it.

The Lease-Purchase Option

One option that some new owner-operators take is a lease-purchase from a carrier. This is essentially a lease to own program, where the operator leases the truck for a certain period of time, usually about 3 years. You must still make a down-payment, but this is generally much smaller than when buying a new truck on your own.

At the end of the 3 years, the operator can either purchase the truck for what is left over between the price of the truck and what he has paid off in the lease, he can switch the truck for another lease truck or he can sell the truck and keep the difference between the selling price and what he still owes on the truck.

One major problem with the lease-purchase option is that they will often control what loads you take, and besides the basic lease payments made every week, they can often take off money for every mile you drive to pay for maintenance and other costs on the truck.

The advantage of the lease-purchase option is that it allows you to purchase your truck with much less money up-front. But you can find yourself out of control of your own truck and your own business for the first years of being an owner-operator, being controlled by the carrier from which you lease the truck. While the lease-purchase option might seem like the fast track to success, it is usually better to wait until you have the money for your own down-payment and actually purchase the truck for yourself.

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