5 Considerations When Buying a Sleeper Semi-Truck
Dan Levenson January 11, 2021
Are you looking to become an owner-operator of a semi-truck or add a semi to a growing business? Owning your own truck gives you the freedom to drive as an independent contractor, choosing your routes and your loads. One of the things you can choose is whether to drive a day truck or a sleeper truck. Day trucks are great for short distances but if you plan to take interstate and cross-country routes, then a sleeper has some invaluable qualities. Even with a basic bunk model, you can save a ton on motels just by having a safe and comfortable place to sleep.
Sleeper models tend to have more heat and sound insulation, and some have tiny RV compartments including a mini-kitchen and a shower/toilet. For semi-truck drivers looking for the perfect truck to buy, a sleeper gives you great range and is worth the investment. When deciding which truck to buy and where to get your truck loan, keep the following five things in mind:
1) Cabin Size
The size of the cabin makes a big difference for your trucking experience. Your cabin size determines two things, the space in your ‘living quarters’ and the mass of your rig. Naturally, the more space you have indoors, the longer your cabin will need to be and the more it will weigh. This will impact your cargo-hauling capacity and how you drive the total longer vehicle. Weigh the features inside the cab and your personal comfort with the size of the cabin.
2) Tractor Weight
The weight of your tractor is also an important factor. Some manufacturers work with lighter materials than others, so size is not always the final determiner of weight. Consider the truck body and the interior sleeper features when calculating for weight. If your sleeper has a kitchenette or bathroom, don’t forget to calculate for the water tanks. A freshwater tank and gray/black water tanks can add an impressive amount of weight. Many RV experts suggest keeping your water tanks only partially filled unless you’re parked with hookups.
3) Versatility and Comfort
Your comfort as the driver and occupant is a major decision-maker. Sleeper trucks also tend to be more spacious and comfortable up-front compared to day trucks. This is because it’s assumed you’ll be spending more of your day in the driver’s seat on long-hauls than with daytime delivery routes. You want to consider your comfort in the driver’s seat as well as your comfort sleeping and living in the back cabin. Test out the bed, go through the motions of making food, and stand in the shower/toilet to see how it feels. Choose the cabin design that you’ll be most comfortable living in for long hauls on the road, especially if you’re skipping motel stops.
4) Sound and Heat Insulation
One of the great things about sleeper cabs is that they are better insulated. Sleeper semi-trucks tend to retain heat (or cool) more efficiently and they are built to block sound so you can get a good night’s sleep inside. This also means less blasting AC and less road noise when you’re driving. Spend a little time in the cabin and find out the quality of the insulation. You might discover that a particular model or brand has superior insulation that can really improve your long-distance trucking experience.
5) Ease of Access
Finally, consider the ports. The water tank refill valve, tank drains, and gas tank access should all be easy for you to work with and to hook up to the appropriate appliances. You need to be able to maintain your living quarters on the road without extra hassle. Test how you will get around the entire truck. Walk through the cab and imagine your future routine. Handle the valves and make sure you can handle them by memory. If the truck feels right when you interact with it, then you’ve found a truck that will be more enjoyable to maintain.
Shopping for a semi-truck involves many different considerations. But while you’re thinking about engine power and axles, don’t forget to consider the quality of your sleeper cab. With a careful eye for quality, you’ll soon find the perfect truck for your owner-operator enterprise. Contact us for more smart small business insights.