What does a Class 8 truck really cost?

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Updated Jan 26, 2016
courtesy MacKay & Co.courtesy MacKay & Co.

If you’ve driven a new Class 8 truck off a dealership lot recently, you – or someone to whom you should be very thankful – probably stroked a check for between $113,000 (day cab) and $125,000 (sleeper).

That’s pretty much the going rate for big rigs these days according to a study presented Monday at Heavy Duty Aftermarket Dialogue in Las Vegas by MacKay and Company’s John Blodgett and David Kalvelage.

The buck doesn’t stop there. You already knew that.

Taking into account tires, fluid and lube changes, hard parts replacement and all those little “uh ohs” that pop up over the life of a truck, realistically it’s going to cost you, according to Blodgett and Kalvelage, another $20,600 each year. That’s $7,200 in parts; $2,900 in tires; $600 in oil and lube and $9,900 in service costs. Per truck. Per year.

Depending on your trade cycle, that could quickly surpass the cost of the truck itself, and you haven’t even accounted for the fuel.

The market for Class 8 aftermarket replacement is a $61.5 billion business. The largest slice of that pie – $29.6 billion – is in service. Up next, at $21.5 billion, is parts. At $8.6 billion, tires make up the third largest expense with oil and lube bringing up the rear at $1.8 billion.

Obviously new trucks won’t require the same level of service as one pushing a decade-and-a-half in age. After all, $20,600 is a 15 year lifespan average.

courtesy MacKay & Co.courtesy MacKay & Co.

Blodgett and Kalvelage say between years 1 and 3, aftermarket costs settle around $12,000 per year per truck. If you make it to years 4 through 6, you can expect that to more than double to around $27,000. Years 7 through 9 are what’s known in the aftermarket as “the sweetspot.”

These trucks have no warranty left, are fraught with teardowns and rebuilds, and their owners have probably long left OEM parts on the shelves. Trucks in this timeframe will set you back just north of $30,000 per year per truck. Years 10 through 12 settle back down to about $22,000 and if you can squeeze three more years out, you’ll save about another $1,000 per year per unit, mostly a savings in parts.

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On a 15 year cradle-to-grave cycle, you’re looking at more than $400,000 before you ever put a drop of diesel fuel in it.

Jason Cannon has written about trucking and transportation for more than a decade and serves as Chief Editor of Commercial Carrier Journal. A Class A CDL holder, Jason is a graduate of the Porsche Sport Driving School, an honorary Duckmaster at The Peabody in Memphis, Tennessee, and a purple belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu. Reach him at [email protected].