Speakout: The Voice of the American Trucker

Updated Jan 2, 2010

Salesman is critical in a truck purchase

Recently I read that aerodynamic trucks yield higher profit and more than offset the resale value of more stylish trucks in fuel saving alone. Aerodynamic trucks can and do get better fuel mileage than some “stylish trucks,” but that is not a given. I drove a 9400i for a Wisconsin fleet for 400,000 miles. It had full fairings, an ISX435 and a 10-speed, and I averaged 7.9 mpg most weeks with seven to ten stops per day. Other trucks with the same specs in that fleet, however, had a hard time getting above 5 mpg. Aerodynamics alone wasn’t getting the job done.

I’ve also heard often that aerodynamic trucks yield greater load capacity. Yet my 2005 Peterbilt 379 short hood has a C13, a 13-speed transmission, a 70-in. sleeper and several weight-saving options. It has a wheelbase of more than 20 inches and is more than one ton lighter than the 9400i, weighing in at 16,250 lbs. Claiming a greater load capacity on the aerodynamic trucks isn’t always justifiable.

 Buying a profitable truck has to do with the total truck, not the hood’s slope. More than anyone else, the truck salesman can help – or hurt – an inexperienced buyer. Many truckers would do well to spend more time checking out their sales associate. Do associates know the business of trucking? Are they asking questions about what you haul, your weight and distance? Or do they seem to know instantly what you need, which, it turns out, is the truck with the extra commission spiff on it because it’s been on the lot too long?


La Crescent, Minn.


speakout-quote“The first of the year will probably be the end of my family. I don’t know what’s next.”

— Owner-operator Filiberto Cervantes in the Los Angeles Times talking about clean-air guidelines that began Jan. 1 at the Los Angeles-Long Beach ports.


What is the most important trucking issue in 2010?

Danny“Money. There is not enough of it to be made, and fuel prices are outrageous.”

DANNY CROLL, Millersburg, Ohio | John C. Hipp Inc.

John“The regulations they have in California about emissions.”

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JOHN HERNANDEZ, Dacula, Ga. | Owner-operator

Richard“Hours of service. They can’t make up their mind whether they want to go back to the old system of 10 on, 10 off, or keep it the way it is.”

RICHARD SHELDON, Huntsville, Ala., Leased to Premier Transport

Lawrence“The government.”


John-Harris“Brokers stealing. Every time I’ve dealt with them, they have.”

JOSH HARRIS, Hamilton, Ala. | Independent owner-operator

Howard“The consistency to keep a job. The high turnover ratios are going to get worse.”

HOWARD WHITE, Knoxville, Tenn., Sunbelt Transport

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