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The Best Vehicle to Own for Your Trucking Business

If you plan on becoming an owner-operator and running your own trucking business, one of the most important decisions you’ll need to make is which type of vehicle to drive. The vehicle you choose to invest in will affect various aspects of your trucking life, whether it be from the kinds of loads you’ll haul to the amount of money you’ll ultimately make.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each type of hauling vehicle. How do you determine which one is right for your trucking business?

Vehicle Options

To help with your decision, it’s important to understand the differences between the four most common vehicle types used by owner-operators.

Pickup Truck

Pickup trucks are lightweight vehicles compared to their straight truck and tractor-trailer counterparts. One of the major distinctions of a pickup truck is its truck bed, which comprises a compact storage area that is perfect for hauling hot shot loads. Auto parts, lumber, and medical equipment and supplies are some examples of cargo that are commonly hauled when operating a trucking business. In addition, pickup trucks are inherently versatile, meaning they can be customized with accessories and mods to build the ultimate work truck geared towards your business needs.

Along with their versatility, pickup trucks cost less to purchase and operate in comparison to the other three vehicle types (check out our list of the Most Fuel-Efficient Trucks of 2020). Plus, if your pickup is rated less than 10,001 gross vehicle weight, you can bypass many of the Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations that cost you time and money to follow.

On the downside, pickup trucks have lower income potential due to their size and limited cargo space. Freight carriers often prioritize owner-operators who made greater investments in larger vehicles that are capable of hauling heavy loads. In today’s technological world, however,  it’s easy to find frequent hot shot jobs through trucking apps like GoShare

Cargo Van

Similar to pickup trucks, cargo vans are lightweight, versatile vehicles with low acquisition and operational costs. The advantage of owning a cargo van is its enclosed cargo space, which is roomy enough to fit hot shot loads safely. You can avoid the disastrous effects of harsh weather conditions or theft thanks to its closed-in storage and sturdy infrastructure. Cargo vans are also easy to maneuver, which is a definite plus if you plan on engaging in frequent drives and long-distance hauling.

Just like pickup trucks, owning a cargo van for your trucking business comes with lower payouts and less available jobs from traditional freight carriers. Before deciding to invest in a full-size or compact cargo van, weigh the costs of purchase and operation versus the payout rates from the loads you might take on.

Straight Truck

Straight trucks, or box trucks, are the most common vehicle setup for owner-operators and expediters. A straight truck consists of the cab, sleeper, and cargo box all attached to a single chassis. It’s an ideal choice of vehicle for truckers who value a spacious cargo area that is capable of hauling all sorts of loads, ranging from dozens of pallets to heavy-duty machinery parts. Box trucks also have accommodating sleeping quarters that make team driving and overnight hauling jobs enjoyable.

In comparison to pickup trucks and cargo vans, owning a straight truck results in greater income potential. Unfortunately, this comes at the tradeoff of a six-figure purchase price and higher maintenance costs. And, since most straight trucks are typically rated anywhere from 26,001 to 33,000 pounds of GVWR, fulfilling the DOT regulations is required. 

For help on deciding which straight truck is the best bang for your buck, check out our list of the best box trucks here.


A tractor-trailer is a heavy-rated truck that pulls a separate cargo trailer, as opposed to a cargo box being permanently mounted onto the truck. Business owners that seek the most flexibility in the type of jobs and size of loads they are able to take should invest in a tractor-trailer. Subsequently, the ability to complete heftier tasks on load boards leads to the highest pay among these four vehicle types. 

Despite their heavy-duty capabilities and high-income potential, tractor-trailers have the highest purchase price and operational costs. Tractor-trailers are also the most difficult to maneuver due to their weight and size, which can negatively impact your trucking experience over time. And, similar to straight trucks, owning a tractor-trailer means complying with DOT regulations, such as obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License and meeting hours of service requirements.

Opportunities for Truck and Van Owners

GoShare offers opportunities for pickup truck, cargo van, and box truck owners to earn extra income by helping individuals and businesses in their communities with on-demand moving and delivery projects. If you are interested in earning extra income doing part-time or weekend projects, visit to learn about our program.

Additional Resources

Looking for more information about the transportation industry and going into business for yourself? Check out these additional posts from GoShare.