Trucking: How to Protect Yourself (and your Bank Account) from Going Broke!

Phil Cohen

white semi truck driving down highway

You’ve seen it before: a big rig truck pulled over on the side of the road with their hazards on. Heck, maybe that’s even been YOU! Breakdowns happen to everyone—truck driver or not—however, big truck = big repair expenditures. Finance experts suggest owner-operators have an emergency fund for exactly that—emergencies.

Usually, though, our emergency funds include immediate cash for things like mortgage or rent payments, utility bills, loan repayments, food, etc. So what happens when your truck needs repairs? Does your emergency fund include enough for unexpected truck maintenance? Here are a couple of ideas for owner-operators to keep your truck in tip-top shape and how to prepare for unexpected repairs if (and when!) they happen.

Preparing for Semi-Truck Repairs and Maintenance

How to Plan for Semi-Truck Repairs

  1. Preventative Maintenance

    Preventative maintenance is kind of like brushing your teeth. Yes, it’s kind of annoying but if you brush and floss daily, you’re less likely to have to need major dental work, right? Preventative maintenance for your truck is exactly the same thing. If you stay on top of taking care of your truck, fewer major repairs will be necessary or at least needed less frequently. Spending a little bit more money on better fuel, oil, or small parts in the short term can save you a lot more money in the long term. Consult your maintenance manual often – it will probably have guidelines on the frequency with which you should get things checked out or changed. Additionally, take into consideration what you’re hauling and through which conditions. Trucks moving freight in the mid-west November through March will definitely need more PM than trucks hauling in the south. Staying on top of little issues before they become big issues will help your truck have a long and happy life.

  2. Start Saving Now

    Get a head start on financing pricey repairs by starting a ‘maintenance’ account. Think of it as your “rainy day fund” for your truck. In the case that you do need to have something fixed, you won’t be stressed out about how you’re going to afford it. SelecTrucks provided this chart on their website in regards to how much owner-operators should be putting away:
    Age of Truck Maintenance Savings
    New = 2 cents per mile
    1-year-old 3 = cents per mile
    2 years old = 4 cents per mile
    3 years old = 5 cents per mile
    4 years old = 7 cents per mile
    5 years old or older = 10 cents per mile
    Not only can the cost of parts be a setback, but you’ll also most likely have to pay for labor, which won’t be cheap either. Together, these costs can be well into the thousands of dollars. That’s more than a few quarters in the couch cushions.

  3. DIY

    If you plan on owning your own truck, or driving long-term, learning at least basic repairs will be a must. You never know what, when or where you might break down and have to attempt to fix on your own until you can get to a shop. Some courses are offered online, but hands-on experience is always best. Check with your local repair shop and see if they offer any type of training or if they can refer you to any type of vocational classes nearby. The more experienced and knowledgeable you are about your own truck, the more money you’ll save on outsourcing repairs.

  4. Know Your Options

    Let’s just say you completely ignored the above advice and suddenly you need cash—and fast. Explore your options as far alternate funding so that you aren’t going to go bankrupt trying to fix your truck. Factoring, for example, is a viable option in which a truck factoring company will buy your open and eligible invoices for a discounted rate and advance you up to 98% of the total amount (usually within 24 hours, once you’re approved.) Using a truck factoring company can help owner-operators stabilize cash flow and protect against unexpected maintenance and repair costs that could ultimately hurt or even destroy your business.
    Breakdowns and repairs are an inevitable part of trucking life. Making investments in your truck will mean less downtime and greater returns for your business in the long run. Anticipation and pro-activeness can save you a lot of headaches, heartbreaks and debt down the road.

Photo of author

Phil Cohen

Phil is the owner of PRN Funding and sister company Factor Finders. He has been an authority in the factoring industry for over 20 years, serving on the board of directors for several factoring associations.


Get Started Now

Secure the funds you need today.