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New Truck or Used Truck


LawnSite Bronze Member
This got started under the "Axle rating" thread and I think there's prolly more input to be had.

I believe in running new equipement, but necessarily new trucks.

No sucessful business becomes that way by running junk, we all agree on that.

If money or credit were not a hurdle, what would you buy & run?


LawnSite Bronze Member
Here is my reply, Just copied from the axel rating thread:

It comes down to two things reliablity and looks.

I work in the utility construction biz. I my service area is just about the whole state of Maine, and have been to NH before for jobs.

I send guys to jobs 2,3 even 4 hours away. They don't want a beater truck, and I don't blame them. We have contract jobs with major utilities, and do jobs for other private contractors. When a gas maine breaks at 3 am in the morning, guess what my guys have to get up and fix it. I don't need to hear at 3 am that a truck won't start and they can't get to the job or something like that. My trucks need to run every day, they need to leave the shop every day, and ya know what if they don't i have lost big time money. If they have to call someone else, if they can find someone else, because we can't get there. We have to pay for the other company to do the job, as well as a "fine" to the company we have the contract with. If we are doing a contract job, and we have 15 days to do the job, and we take 17 days we, we could be paying the a "fine" for as much as 5K a day or more. If it takes 2 days longer, because we have a truck in the shop for 2 days, where does that leave us?

It sometimes sounds like I have trucks just sitting around, but when the ground isn't frozen, and there isn't any snow. We are working very hard, when we are done with installs and under ground work, in the winter we change modes. We park the backhoes, and exevators, and the loaders go to do snow, and the tri axels may sit around. However the pick ups and 1-tons and even the F 650s are out doing service up-grades, where exevation isn't required.

If I had a service radius of 20 miles, you bet I would run trucks longer. I look at it this way, bigger service area, more money, at the same time more expenses, trucks need to be replaced more often.

Could you tell your employees get in that 1985 F 250 with 400,000 miles on it, and drive to Fort Kent, almost to Canada, about a 4 hour ride from my shope, where you can drive 50 miles and not pass a car, or a town?

Granted I keep a truck till it has 150K on it at least. Then it is either replaced, or kept in a more local service area.

I am just tired of being "picked on" for having to use new truck, to keep the biz on track.

I will tell you, that if all I did was plow snow, I would be running older trucks, and keeping new ones much longer. I have nothing against useing older trucks, their is nothing wrong with it, when you have a small service area.

However for me Time is money, I can't afford to have a truck in the shop for days on end waiting for parts. I don't have enough tome to keep fixing trucks all the time, my Mechanic is busy enough as it is. It's plain and simple an old truck will spend more time in the shop, and thats fine for most work.

Oh yea, why is my Mechanic busy: My Mechanic has a lot of stuff to maintain.

He has to maintain/fix, exevators, loaders, backhoes, tractors, snowblowers, tri -axel dumps, tandem axel dumps, compactors, generators, trailers, pick-ups, 1-tons, and just about every other thing you can think of with a motor on it.

I am very lucky I have found someone that can fix all that stuff. I don't want to add to his load, by constantly maintaining an older truck.

The Ford's are not breaking down every day, thats a fact. It just when you have this much stuff to maintain, you don't need to deal with any more. Trust me newer truck equal less breakdowns, and less up keep. Guys are also less likely to beat a newer truck. I had an employee dent a licence plat when connecting to a trailer. Later that day, he said "gee Geoff, sorry about the dent in the licence plate" Even though there work trucks, the guys put pride into them.

These are the reasons I buy new. If I wasn't in this biz, you bet I would buy used, and run longer.

BTW I do buy used equipment and trucks. Just depends on what it is going to be used for. My plow trucks, are needed everday all year round, thats why I go new with them.


[Edited by GeoffDiamond on 11-29-2000 at 12:57 AM]


LawnSite Bronze Member
One of the things I like about my older trucks is ALL the parts are available locally. My local garage always get me in within a few hours.

I'm virtually guarenteed to not have a truck down for more than 24 hours. That's real valuable with a plow truck.


LawnSite Member
Renton, WA
My take:

Older trucks aren't less reliable, if they are/were abused they will quit, just like a new truck.

Lets take a late 70's Chevy 350 in a 3/4 ton:

no emissions junk, not 1 million vacuum lines, no computer,
you open the hood and there the engine is, only things that can go wrong are:

Alternator (plow truck would get new high-output one anyway)
starter (well never seen one go out but, week spot)
carburetor (get a new one)

I mean what else can go wrong on these things?

no vacuum operated hubs, one of the most unreliable things ever made, no electronic overdrive auto's that have to be rebuilt ever 20,000 mi., no electronic stuff to fail,

my point is, you do a little work when you buy and old truck and it will pay you big returns!

+ they are American made, and so are a great majority of parts on them.



LawnSite Senior Member
southern ontario
Geoff's justifications for buying "new" make perfect sense to me. For us it's the opposite - we work never more than a half-hour drive (more in traffic) from our storage garages. My partner and I were just discussing the argument of "new" vs. "old" today. If we were to buy "new", a 1-ton reg.cab 4x4 set up to trailer and plow would be about $35,000CDN before taxes. We run three trucks, and will no doubt expand to four when our plowing route gets larger. We just can't justify (or afford) to pay around $700 per month per truck. Not when our used trucks can do equal the work, for a LOT less cost. Our philosophy has been to purchase quality, used trucks, and new mowing and plowing equipment. Better to have one used truck too many, which can act in a backup role if another one is in the shop, than to dole out big bucks for new trucks. This way we aren't paralyzed when one of our trucks is down for repair. The cost of owning and insuring three used trucks is still cheaper than making payments on two new ones.


LawnSite Member
N. Dighton MA.

I plow with an old truck. An 83 F150 with the big six(300).

Yes it is easy to fix compared to todays technotrucks. Does it do the job, ABSOLUTELY. It is also stronger than most all new 1/2 tons.


There is always something that fails. Whether it's the wiper motor, or the fan motor, or the front axle. I have rebuilt 90% of this truck, so I know what is left to fail. You have to have a LOT of time to run an older truck, they require more maintainence. Also finding parts is sometimes harder.

An older truck is probably better suited for a backup vehicle, unless you rebuild it 100%.

And YES, NEW trucks breakdown too..HOPEFULLY less often



LawnSite Bronze Member
Southern, Maine
We trade in our trucks every 3 to 4 years. We run a busy all year round lanscape company and cant afford breakdowns. While we were growing we bought used trucks but some of them were someone elses problems especialy former used plow trucks the worst. You do have to start somewhere but if the finances are available why risk breakdowns and other possible faliures at your expense when you buy new its called WARRANTY!!!


LawnSite Bronze Member
Our new Dodges were down FAR more than our older ones.

Our diesel missed almost 2 months of one winter waiting for a transmission. Even now the dealer schedules work 1-2 weeks out.

What good is Warranty if your truck is down?


LawnSite Bronze Member
Southern, Maine
We buy new at local dealers all our trucks no used. If our truck was down they would let me have the company truck to finish jobs off. Only thing was no sander would have to sub out but thats no problem. Thats why we run 2 to 3 trucks and dealer gives us benifiets to loaners even with PLOWS.


LawnSite Bronze Member
That's awesome!

A truck with a plow for a loaner. We have 1 company here with 18 trucks and only after 7 (seven) were at the dealership with repair did they let them take the 1 demo with a front blade.

You miss the salter, I'd miss the rear-plows (esp. on driveway routes) and the V-Plow. (And the clutch-pump.) (And the Blizzak tires.) (And the back-up light/flasher)

Either way a loaner on a plow truck is priceless.