The warm summer temperatures have clearly vacated the prairies for another year, but that doesn’t mean we at Grainews have given up on our practical machinery testing—far from it. It just means we’re drinking more coffee during the breaks to try and keep warm while doing them.
This past week was a prime example of that as we spent a day with the staff at Freightliner Manitoba. The cold temperature that day made me think of Gerry Reed’s truck driving handle “Snowman” in the movie “Smoky and the Bandit” in an entirely new way. We took a look at what’s out there on the market when it comes to heavy farm trucks. Fortunately, we were able to get some space inside the warm training area of their shop to do most of the filming.
Surf through the online ads and there are used Class 8 trucks for sale that span the range from $5,000 to $150,000. With the expertise of the staff at Freightliner Manitoba here in Winnipeg, we aimed to help farmers get a better handle on what exactly they could expect to get for their money all across that price range.
As you’d expect, the cheaper trucks have substantially more miles under their belts than those with a bigger price tag. That goes without saying. But unlike the off-road machinery sector, the big on-road trucks have a few quirks we don’t usually have to deal with in farm equipment. I’m talking mostly about strict regulations and the new emissions systems.
Of course, powered farm machines do now use emissions systems that comply with the North American Tier 4 Final standards, but farm equipment is not subject to the periodic mandatory inspection program highway trucks are. So, to put it bluntly, we can run junk in our fields if we want. Taking to the roads in a truck, though, is an entirely different matter.
Pull an emissions system off a heavy truck and there could be consequences later as more jurisdictions adopt emissions testing as part of that periodic safety inspection program. It’s not here on the prairies yet, but as Dylan said, “the times they are a changin’”. And the cost of repairing an emissions system ready for major repairs or re-installing one on a “deleted” truck could actually exceed the total value of a low-end model.
Even if a truck built after emissions system mandates came into force doesn’t have any problems in that department, there are plenty of other components where the combined costs of repairs necessary to award the truck a fresh safety decal could relegate an older model to the status of parts donor.
But many—probably most—farmers aren’t really looking for a “junker” truck. So we took a look at the gamut of what’s out there. What does roughly $20,000, $50,000 or $65,000 get you? What can a buyer reasonably expect the condition and service life of one those trucks to be?
Finally, we went full Monty and took a look at a brand spanking new truck, MSRP about $175,000. Given that is a third or less the cost of a new high-horsepower tractor, less than double the cost of a new diesel one-ton pickup, going this route deserves consideration. One of these trucks will probably last a farmer until he or she retires and it offers added options for marketing grain that require longer delivery travel. Does it make sense to go the new truck route and get the benefits they add to a farm fleet? For many, it may.
Those are the questions we put to the experts at Freightliner Manitoba who know the industry. If you want to know what we found out, keep an eye on the video page here at grainews.ca and watch for a full report in the pages of an upcoming print issue of Grainews.