How Much Does It Cost to Start a Trucking Company? | Episode 11

“How much does it cost to start a trucking company?” is probably the most common question we get asked. In this episode we are going to answer this question with a real-life example. When I started my trucking company a few months before writing this post, I took meticulous notes documenting each and every expense I made.

What To Expect From Episode 11

In this episode I talk about each and every startup expense I made and tell you exactly how much it cost. Since each person’s situation is going to be different, I also give a best-case scenario and explain why I think your situation might be different than mine.

I hope this discussion will help you start to get a clearer picture for how much your startup expenses will be. Additionally, my team and I have created some tools to help you figure out what your costs could be.

Free Tools To Help You

First, check out our side-by-side comparison of the startup costs on Motor Carrier HQ. It also gives a more in-depth explanation of all the costs, similar to what we have here below.

Next, check out the Startup Cost Calculator on Motor Carrier HQ. You can use this helpful tool to calculate your own startup costs.

Keep reading for an explanation of some of the more common questions I answered.

How much money does it cost to start a trucking company?

It’s going to vary for every person. In this episode, I compare my experience vs. the best-case scenario. If you want to get the full picture and more notes, you can check out the resources I have on Motor Carrier HQ.

Best-case scenario: $9,616.00

My cost: $29,893.50

What affects the starting costs to starting a trucking company?

There are so many variables that can affect the cost it takes to start your trucking company. Some of these include:

  • How long you’ve been trucking
  • How much equipment you have
  • How old you are
  • The state you live in

Time Stamp: 6:30

How much does it cost to purchase a truck?

For the cost, we’re just talking about the down payment for the truck to start, not the full cost. Some people already have the truck and equipment, so they don’t have a downpayment. This is often true for independent owner operators.

Best-case scenario: $0

My cost: $13,486.00

This cost was everything I spent to take the truck off the lot. I had to put 20% down, plus a little bit for registration fees because I had no experience driving a truck before. Because it was riskier for the bank, they required a higher fee.

If you want to learn more about buying a truck, we’ve covered it in episode 5. You can also learn how to finance your truck by listening to the next episode.

Time Stamp: 10:30

How much does it cost to purchase a trailer?

Most trucking companies starting out don’t already have a trailer, even if you’re a leased-on owner operator. I’m going off the assumption that most truckers, no matter what, are going to have to purchase a trailer.

You can often expect to put 10-20% of the cost of the trailer as a downpayment.

Best-case scenario: $2,500-$5,000

My cost: $4,893

I purchased a more expensive refrigerated trailer (reefer). You could get one in the $20,000-$30,000 range, but I spent almost $50,000 for it.

Time Stamp: 12:25

How much does diesel cost starting out?

Most trucks are going to have two tanks, and they can vary in size. Most trucks are going to have a 100-gallon tank on each side. Some even have 125-150 gallon tanks per size.

Reefer trailers also have 50-gallon tanks, and you also have to worry about diesel exhaust fluid.

Best-case scenario: $0

My cost: $570.12

This number includes the truck and reefer.

If you’re using a factoring company, they can give you an advance on your first fuel. Brokers can also do the same thing. They’ll charge you for it, but if you go with either of these routes, you don’t have to include fuel in the start-up cost.

Time Stamp: 13:30

What professional services do I need and how much do they cost?

In the professional services, I’ve included things like the services Motor Carrier HQ provides to start a trucking company and other registrations. This could include anything from operating authority to your UCR, KYU, and what you also need.

Best-case scenario: $1,832.00

My cost: $1,832.00

I think anyone would be paying anywhere in that mark.

Time Stamp: 16:30

What Is IRP and how much does IRP registration cost?

IRP stands for International Registration Plan, and it’s an agreement among all the states to pay registration fees based on the states you operate in. The first year is an estimate, but the price changes based on the actual miles you traveled in each state.

Best-case scenario: $1,300.00

My cost: $1,361.81

I’ve covered this topic more extensively in episode 14.

Time Stamp: 18:00

How much does trucking insurance cost?

We talked about how to purchase commercial truck insurance in episode 9. No matter what you’ll be paying several thousand dollars in that downpayment for insurance.

Best-case scenario: $3,000.00

My cost: $4,041.60

I had to put 25% down because I’m a new driver and I had to find a company that was willing to work with me. So, my premiums are going to be a little higher and my down payment, as well.

Time Stamp: 19:35

How much does workers’ compensation and occupational accident cost?

Worker’s compensation is a type of insurance that covers you if you get injured on the job.

Occupational accident insurance is a similar type of insurance, but it’s geared for independent owner operators who are working for themselves. Instead of paying the hefty worker’s compensation fees, you pay a little bit cheaper occupational accident fee and you don’t have to have worker’s compensation.

Best-case scenario: $138.00

My cost: $138.00

If you’re going to go under occupational accident, you have to file a form that waives the requirement to have worker’s compensation and that application requires $50.

Best-case scenario: $50

My cost: $50

Time Stamp: 20:30

What other equipment should you get?

It depends on what you plan on using and what you have. If you already have a cell phone, then you won’t have to add this part to the expenses.

For cell phone and other equipment:

Best-case scenario: $0.00

My cost: $236.97

For a tablet:

Best-case scenario: $0.00

My cost: $554.26

For tools and other equipment:

Best-case scenario: $300

My cost: $1,351.76

If you already have a lot of tools, then this can keep costs low. For me, I had to buy a toolbox and lots of tools, which I’ve used the heck out of that tool box. Like, I bought an air hose, a tire gauge, a thermometer, and other types of equipment.

What is required to put on your truck?

The DOT requires on the side of your truck:

  • Your company name
  • DOT number

While there’s no regulation on how you do it, the DOT requires something visible within a short distance away. You could get vinyl lettering and even get something as low as $40.

Best-case scenario: $100.00

My cost: $381.98

My logo is a little bigger, so it cost more. That was just the truck, not the trailer. But on the trailer, you just need to put the trailer number on it.

Time Stamp: 24:45

What is a PrePass?

A PrePass allows a certain percentage of trucks to drive by without going through the weigh station. It saves a lot of time. I noticed that every time I get pulled into a weigh station, it’s a good 5 minute delay. If they want to see your registration, it could be 10 minutes. If they want to inspect your truck, it could be a good hour.

Best-case scenario: $0

My cost: $200

Time Stamp: 26:00

What is an ELD? How much does it cost?

An ELD is an electronic logging device that tracks all your miles. I bought a plan for the full year, and I think that’s the best bet when starting your new trucking company. Choosing a good ELD can keep your trucking company compliant and it makes filing IFTA taxes much easier, too.

Best-case scenario: $396.00

My cost: $396.00

Time Stamp: 28:00

Should I purchase a truck GPS?

Some truckers can just use their phone GPS, but I decided to buy a truck GPS to give more insights. A truck-specific GPS allows you to put info about your truck and won’t route you on roads that your truck can’t go on.

Sometimes it routes me poorly, so I like to have both open or have both to determine which one is the best.

Best-case scenario: $0.00

My cost: $400.00

Time Stamp: 28:25

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Mouad yousef

Hi, love the podcast. I am trying to get started in the trucking business. I am a little unique then most because I am legally blind so I can not drive the truck. I am looking for a driver and dispatcher to work for or with me. I can put up the captal to get the truck and insurance established. Any guidance for me? I am interested in 26 box trucks.

Mouad yousef

Thanks Chris, how did you go about finding a good dispatcher to get you loads?

[…] need a full tank before you head out on your first load. Or do you? Listen to the podcast for a couple ways you can get some help with this, so you don’t have to include it as a startup […]



[…] we started our own trucking company. We walk through everything from start to finish, including the cost that comes with starting your own business, and even discuss each month’s finances to show that it is possible to make a […]