What are the Signs It’s Time to Sell My Semi-Truck?

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The decision to sell your semi-truck is not just about timing; it’s about strategy. In the trucking industry, understanding the life cycle of your vehicle and recognizing the optimal time to sell can mean the difference between a profitable sale and a financial loss. Whether you’re an individual owner-operator or the manager of a fleet, the question of when to sell my semi-truck is crucial. Let’s take a closer look at the indicators and market conditions that signal it’s time to put your truck on the market.

Understanding Truck Mileage and Maintenance

How Mileage Differs from Cars

It’s a common misconception to compare truck mileage directly with car mileage. While a car may be nearing the end of its lifespan at 100,000 miles, a semi-truck is just getting started. For instance, if you have a truck that’s two years old with 200,000 miles, it’s equivalent to a two-year-old Honda Accord with 20,000 miles. This is because semi-trucks are built for the long haul—literally.

Engine Rebuilds: A Second Life for Semi-Trucks

Big block engines in semi-trucks are designed to be rebuilt, usually somewhere between 500,000 to a million miles. This means that trucks with mileages in the millions may still have plenty of life left if they’ve been properly maintained and rebuilt when necessary.

Resale Value and Mileage

Why Selling Before 550,000 Miles Makes Sense

Even if maintenance costs have been steady, it usually benefits you to consider selling your semi-truck before it hits 550,000 miles. Why? Because financing a used truck becomes more difficult as the mileage climbs higher, which in turn lowers the resale value. Trucks with mileages approaching 600,000 to 800,000 miles are harder to finance and thus harder to sell.

The Best Time to Sell

If you’re running a fleet, you might want to turn your trucks around at 300,000 to 400,000 miles. This is a sweet spot where maintenance costs start to increase, but the resale value remains high, providing you with an optimal return on your investment.

Truck vs Car: Resale Value

Unlike personal vehicles, semi-trucks do not depreciate in value as sharply. A truck is seen more as a tool for business, whereas a car is a personal purchase where cosmetics play a significant role in its value.

Understanding UTA Trade Terms

What are UTA Trade Terms?

In the trucking industry, the Used Truck Association (UTA) has set trade terms, which are conditions that help standardize the trade-in process. If a truck meets these conditions, it’s generally considered to be in acceptable condition for resale or trade-in.

The Importance of Meeting UTA Trade Terms

For a truck to meet UTA trade terms, it should have less than $250 worth of body damage, and elements like tires and brakes should be at 50% or better. The engine must run properly without active fault codes or check engine lights, and significant body damage should be avoided.

Difference Between DOT and Trade Terms

Safety vs. Resale

The Department of Transportation (DOT) inspection is an annual requirement for trucks to ensure they are safe and legal for highway operation. However, passing a DOT inspection doesn’t necessarily mean the truck meets UTA trade terms. DOT inspections focus on the truck’s safety, while UTA trade terms are more about maintaining value for resale or trade.

Legal But Not Necessarily Ideal for Resale

A truck might be legal to run with 20-30% tire tread left and more than $250 worth of body damage, but it wouldn’t meet the stricter UTA trade terms. For a truck to hold its value in the market, it must surpass the basic DOT requirements.


When determining whether it’s time to sell your semi-truck, consider the balance between maintenance costs and potential resale value. Keeping a close eye on mileage and ensuring your vehicle meets UTA trade terms can safeguard your investment. If you’re approaching that critical mileage marker or noticing an uptick in truck and auto repair service bills, it might be time to consider a sale.

If you need guidance on assessing your semi-truck’s resale readiness, don’t hesitate to contact us for expert advice and support.