Best Truck to Buy for Making Money in Trucking

6 min read
Best Truck to Buy for Making Money in Trucking

Choosing the right truck and equipment for a trucking business is crucial for maximizing profitability. Different types of equipment can significantly impact your earnings based on the freight you haul, the routes you take, and market demand. This article reviews various types of trucking equipment—Dry Van, Reefer, Stepdeck, Flatbed, Sprinter Van, Box Truck, and Hot Shot—focusing on their earning potential and key features.

1. Dry Van

Description: A dry van is a standard enclosed trailer used for transporting non-perishable goods. This type of trailer is extremely versatile, capable of hauling a wide range of products from retail items to manufacturing parts. Dry vans are the backbone of the trucking industry, offering extensive coverage for most general freight needs.

Earnings Potential:

  • Average Earnings: $2.00 to $3.00 per mile.

  • Annual Revenue: $150,000 to $200,000 depending on mileage and routes.


  • Versatility: Can haul a wide variety of goods.

  • Weather Protection: Fully enclosed, protecting cargo from the elements.

  • High Demand: Always in demand, ensuring a steady flow of work.


  • Weight Limitation: Heavier than some other trailers, reducing payload capacity.

  • Loading and Unloading: Can be time-consuming, especially if not docked at a warehouse.

2. Reefer (Refrigerated Trailer)

Description: A reefer trailer is refrigerated and used for transporting perishable goods like food, pharmaceuticals, and chemicals. It maintains specific temperature ranges to keep products fresh and safe during transit, making it essential for temperature-sensitive cargo.

Earnings Potential:

  • Average Earnings: $2.50 to $4.00 per mile.

  • Annual Revenue: $180,000 to $250,000 due to higher rates for specialized freight.


  • High Demand: Essential for transporting perishable goods, ensuring a steady stream of jobs.

  • Higher Rates: Can charge premium rates due to the specialized nature of the cargo.

  • Versatility: Can haul both refrigerated and dry goods.


  • Higher Maintenance Costs: Refrigeration units require regular maintenance and fuel.

  • Increased Fuel Consumption: Running the refrigeration unit consumes more fuel.

  • Initial Cost: More expensive to purchase than a dry van.

3. Stepdeck (Drop Deck)

Description: A stepdeck trailer, also known as a drop deck, has a lower deck that allows for the transport of taller loads that wouldn’t fit in a standard dry van. It's widely used for heavy equipment, machinery, and oversized loads.

Earnings Potential:

  • Average Earnings: $2.50 to $3.50 per mile.

  • Annual Revenue: $170,000 to $230,000 based on load types and frequency.


  • Tall Loads: Can transport taller items without needing special permits.

  • Ease of Loading: Lower height makes loading heavy equipment easier.

  • Versatility: Suitable for a variety of freight including machinery, building materials, and vehicles.


  • Limited Enclosure: Open design means cargo is exposed to weather.

  • Securing Cargo: Requires more effort and equipment to secure loads.

4. Flatbed

Description: A flatbed trailer is an open deck with no sides or roof, used for transporting large or unusually shaped cargo that wouldn't fit in a standard enclosed trailer. It's ideal for construction materials, large machinery, and other oversized items.

Earnings Potential:

  • Average Earnings: $2.50 to $3.50 per mile.

  • Annual Revenue: $170,000 to $230,000, depending on cargo and routes.


  • Flexibility: Can haul oversized and irregularly shaped loads.

  • Easy Loading and Unloading: Accessible from all sides and above.

  • High Demand: Widely used in construction and manufacturing industries.


  • Weather Exposure: Cargo is exposed to the elements.

  • Securing Loads: Requires careful securing of loads, often with tarps and straps.

  • Higher Insurance Costs: Increased risk due to cargo exposure and load security issues.

5. Sprinter Van

Description: A Sprinter van is a smaller, more agile vehicle often used for expedited freight, last-mile deliveries, and smaller loads. It's ideal for urban environments and short-distance hauls.

Earnings Potential:

  • Average Earnings: $1.50 to $2.50 per mile.

  • Annual Revenue: $70,000 to $100,000 depending on the number of deliveries and distances covered.


  • Maneuverability: Easy to navigate in urban areas and congested streets.

  • Fuel Efficiency: More fuel-efficient than larger trucks.

  • Lower Operating Costs: Less expensive to maintain and insure.


  • Limited Capacity: Smaller cargo space limits the type and volume of goods.

  • Lower Revenue: Generates less income per trip due to smaller load capacity.

6. Box Truck

Description: A box truck, also known as a cube truck or straight truck, features an enclosed, box-shaped cargo area. It is often used for local deliveries, moving services, and transporting goods that need protection from weather.

Earnings Potential:

  • Average Earnings: $2.00 to $2.50 per mile.

  • Annual Revenue: $80,000 to $130,000 for local and regional routes.


  • Easy Loading: Rear roll-up door for quick and easy access.

  • Protected Cargo: Fully enclosed to protect goods from weather and theft.

  • Local Deliveries: Ideal for urban deliveries and short hauls.


  • Limited Range: Typically used for shorter routes.

  • Weight Limitations: Smaller payload capacity compared to semi-trucks.

  • Lower Revenue: Less profitable on long hauls compared to larger trailers.

7. Hot Shot

Description: Hot shot trucking involves using medium-duty trucks with flatbed or specialized trailers to transport smaller, time-sensitive loads. It's commonly used for urgent deliveries and loads that don’t require a full-sized truck.

Earnings Potential:

  • Average Earnings: $1.75 to $3.00 per mile.

  • Annual Revenue: $100,000 to $180,000 depending on the frequency and urgency of loads.


  • Flexibility: Ideal for time-sensitive and smaller loads.

  • Lower Entry Cost: Less expensive to start compared to heavy-duty trucks.

  • Variety of Loads: Can haul a wide range of items, from agricultural products to machinery.


  • Lower Income: Smaller loads mean potentially lower income per trip.

  • Wear and Tear: More frequent trips can lead to faster wear on the vehicle.

  • Insurance Costs: High insurance rates due to the urgency and varied nature of loads.


Choosing the best truck and equipment for making money in the trucking industry depends on several factors, including the type of goods you plan to transport, your preferred routes, and your budget.

  • Dry Vans are versatile and offer steady work with moderate earnings.

  • Reefers can command higher rates but have higher operating costs.

  • Stepdecks and Flatbeds are great for oversized loads with solid earnings potential but require more effort to secure cargo.

  • Sprinter Vans and Box Trucks are suitable for local deliveries with lower start-up costs but limited revenue potential.

  • Hot Shot trucking provides flexibility and decent earnings, especially for urgent loads.

Carefully assess your business goals, available capital, and the specific demands of your target market to select the equipment that will maximize your profitability in the trucking industry.