How Many Miles Does A Semi Truck Last?

If you're considering going into trucking for yourself, you most likely have a lot of questions to research. Purchasing your own semi-truck is not an inexpensive investment. Knowing what you can get for the money is critical for determining how to budget your potential new business endeavor. One of the first questions you might be asking yourself is how many miles a semi-truck will last. We've done extensive research on semi-trucks for this post and have provided the answers to many of the questions you may have below.

How many miles a semi-truck will last depends on several factors. All things taken into consideration, the average semi-truck should last 900,000 miles. The following variables will determine the life of your truck:

  • routine maintenance
  • smart driving
  • true engine miles

Knowing what will determine how long your semi-truck will last will help ensure that you're on the road with it for many years to come. How many miles can a semi-truck drive on a single tank of gas? How often should the oil be changed? What is the best way to go about buying a used semi-truck? To see what we've discovered, please keep reading!

Semi-trailer truck Freightliner Century Class drives at the interurban freeway during a heavy snowfall, How Many Miles Does A Semi Truck Last?

How to Make Your Semi Truck Last

Making your semi-truck last relies on several variables that are in your control. We've broken them down below. Follow them carefully, and you may break the rare two million mile mark that is the envy of truckers on the road today.

Routine maintenance

The most important factor in determining how many miles you can get from your semi-truck is routine maintenance. Making absolutely certain that you make yourself aware of the manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule and then sticking to it will make your truck last longer and make it safer to share the road with other drivers.

We go into more detail about the types of maintenance you should have performed on your semi-truck later in this post. You'll learn about what happens during each type of maintenance stop, as well as how frequently each should be performed.

Smart Driving

Aside from maintenance, how you drive any vehicle will influence how long the vehicle will last. Bumpy routes, drastic changes in the climate, and a lot of "stop and go" driving will have an impact on your semi-truck. City traffic is the worst type of driving for trucks, as it requires a lot of braking and turning. 

True engine miles

The mileage on the truck's odometer only reflects how much the truck has been in motion. The truck itself may have a considerable amount more time that the engine has been on and idling. Idling a semi-truck is very common, as starting one up uses a great deal of fuel and power, and letting it idle saves wear and tear on certain parts. 

Truckers will often let their engines idle while they sleep in them overnight. The climate control systems, interior lighting, televisions, and other features are powered by electricity drawn from the truck's battery. If the engine isn't on, then the battery can quickly be drained, leaving the trucker stranded.

Limiting idling time will make your engine last longer between maintenance and decrease the wear and tear on your truck's engine. While you won't totally eliminate idling the engine, using discretion as to when you do it (and for how long you do it) will add overall life to it.

How Many Miles Can A Semi Truck Go On One Tank Of Gas?

The number of miles a semi-truck can drive on a single tank of gas will depend on the type of semi-truck you're driving, your average speed, and road conditions. The range of miles per gallon is between four and eight. Hills and load size also play important factors in the semi truck's mileage per gallon, as steep climbs and heavy loads make the engine work harder. The more power it has to expel to move, the more fuel it will need to burn.

An interesting fact about how a semi-truck will burn fuel in relation to hills; a semi-truck climbing a long hill will average three miles per gallon. But that same semi-truck descending that hill will see the mileage increase to just over twenty miles per gallon. While there are many factors at play when it comes to a semi-truck's fuel economy, hills are the most significant factor.

All factors taken into consideration, a semi-truck will average seven miles per gallon.

What Is Considered Low Miles On A Semi Truck?

You probably have a good idea as to what would be considered low mileage on a standard car or truck. Taking the age of the vehicle into consideration, a car or truck with less than ten thousand miles per year is considered low. With semi-trucks, the numbers are drastically different.

Keep in mind that these trucks have much larger engines, which are crafted to get a lot of miles on them. Many of them are on the road eight hours a day, and they would have to have a long-lasting engine under their hoods to make them viable for transporting goods across the country.

It's not uncommon for a semi-truck to get nearly three-quarters of a million miles on its engine. With an average of 45,000 miles driven per year, a typical semi-truck will be on the road for about 16 years. This means 720,000 miles in its lifetime.

So for a semi-truck to be considered a low mileage truck, anything under two hundred thousand miles would qualify. Just remember that low mileage doesn't always equate to good value. The truck's condition should be considered, and knowing that routine maintenance has been performed is critical in choosing the right used semi truck.

How Often Do Semi Trucks Change Oil?

Like with a car or truck, changing the oil of a semi's engine is a must. Not doing so, or not doing it as recommended, will damage the engine and greatly decrease the life of your semi-truck.

The general rule of how often you should change the oil in a semi-truck is based on the idea that you have ideal conditions. If you're driving all highway, the climate is consistent, you aren't doing heavy braking, etc., you should be able to change the engine's oil every 25,000 to 30,000 miles. However, if you find yourself with a lot of city driving or constantly driving in and out of multiple climate zones, you may need to look at having the oil changed every 13,000 to 15,000 miles.

Even in the harshest driving conditions, there are variables that you can control that will get more life out of your engine in between oil changes. Using a higher quality engine oil will increase the mileage between changes. If you couple this with other routine maintenance, you'll find yourself needing oil changes less frequently.

A motor mechanic is working on a gearbox under a Heavy goods truck in a pit of a workshop with a socket wrench

How Often Should A Semi Truck Be Serviced?

Having regular service on your semi-truck not only increases the life of its engine, but it ensures that it's safe for it to be on the road with other drivers. Our research has shown that there are three tiers of service that should be performed on semi-trucks, and we've listed each of them, along with their frequencies, here:

Basic service

A basic servicing should occur around every 15,000 miles. Since the average truck is on the road 45,000 per year, this would mean once every three months. 

The basic servicing your trusted semi-truck mechanic will perform includes checking your engine oil and other fluids, topping off, or changing those that need it. He or she will also inspect all of your exterior lights to see that they are all in working order before you take it back on the road.

Thorough inspections

Every 30,000 miles (or every six months, whichever is sooner), you'll want a thorough inspection. This most often will include a full oil and lube change. The air filters, fuel filters, and oil filters will also be changed at this time. Your inspector will then examine your truck to see if any minor repairs need to be performed before being certified as safe by the Department of Transportation. 


An African-American man in his 30s repairing a semi-truck

Premium Inspections

A premium inspection is performed once every year or once every 50,000 miles. During this inspection, all of your fluids and filters are totally changed and refilled, and any minor repairs are done. Along with these items, the mechanic will do a full inspection of your engine and check its performance. 

This inspection is much more involved than the previous types of inspections and will take a considerable amount of time. The average premium inspection will take twenty-four hours, so be sure that you plan your stops in conjunction with the time maintenance will take.

African American man (20s) in service garage repairing semi-truck

What Is The Best Way To Buy A Used Semi Truck?

Knowing what to look for and what to avoid helps ensure that you get the best, used semi-truck for your money. The best way to obtain one is through a trusted source. Shop through a previous owner or dealer that you know has a solid reputation for having excellent driving habits and making sure that maintenance is performed routinely.  

Aside from the above, there are several things you should definitely be looking for when looking at a prospective used semi-truck. You'll want to inspect it thoroughly for any rusting and make certain that the truck's body isn't damaged in any other way. 

Check the tires. If the truck has been parked for a long period of time, it will probably show cracks in the tires themselves. This can indicate that the semi-truck was parked on moisture and not driven for quite a while, which could mean other issues. 

See that all of the doors and windows are functioning properly and that none of the mirrors are loose. Seemingly small things like this can often be a sign that routine maintenance has been overlooked.

Ask to see it's mileage and maintenance logs. A good semi-truck owner will keep careful track of these things. The mileage log is required by law. See that the maintenance matches up to the mileage log so that you know that the maintenance was not only performed but performed on time.

While this does not cover all that you need to know when buying a used semi-truck, it will certainly give you several places to start from.

Truck driver inspecting safety daily check a truck wheels

In Conclusion

We've learned that semi-trucks are built to last much longer than standard cars and trucks. Bigger engines and technology make semi-truck engines last on average 720,000 miles, with many lasting well over a million miles. Just like with any vehicle, how you drive it and how well you maintain it will be a good indicator of how long it will last you. Knowing these factors will also help you buy a used semi-truck, as you'll be better prepared for what questions you need to ask the seller.

If you enjoyed reading this post, we've listed others below that you might find helpful and informative:

How Much Weight Can A Truck Carry [By Truck Type]

Pickup Truck Door Won’t Open? Here’s What To Do

16 4-Door (Crew Cab) Trucks with Long Beds

10 Ideas for Personalized Truck Driver Gifts

14 Awesome Truck Gifts For Dad

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