How Long Can a Semi Truck Last?

The life span of a semi-truck is approximately 750,000 miles. In this article, we review how long a semi-truck lasts, the highest mileage of a semi-truck, and truck maintenance costs per mile.

How Long a Semi Truck Lasts

The average semi-truck will last around 750,000 miles, with some making it to a million miles. Drivers put around 50,000 to 70,000 miles on their trucks per year, giving them a life of around 10 to 15 years. How long a semi-truck lasts can vary depending on how well it is maintained. Each part of the truck has a different lifespan and requires a certain amount of attention in order to increase the longevity of a semi-truck.

 For instance:

  • Transmission – up to 200,000 miles
  • Clutch – can vary based on maintenance
  • Brakes – around 50,000 miles
  • Shocks – around 100,000 miles
  • Batteries – 3-5 years
  • Tires –
    • Steer tires – 150,000 miles
    • Drive tires – 350,000 – 500,000 miles
    • Trailer tires – 25,000 – 75,000 miles
  • Body – indefinitely provided appropriate care

How long a semi-truck lasts can also depend on other factors, such as how experienced the driver is, the conditions of the roads and environment when driving, and the type of cargo being hauled.

A competent driver who understands the ins and outs of their truck will be able to better take care of their vehicle and tell when it needs maintenance. 

Some things are out of the driver’s hands, like poor road conditions, traffic, and bad weather. For instance, roads in the North will have salt on them to prevent freezing, which will cause rust and corrosion on the trucks. Similarly, high UV levels in the South deteriorate the interior of semi trucks and cause cracking and fading. 

Semi-trucks carrying heavier cargo tend to last less than those carrying lighter cargo. Heavy cargo puts more strain on the parts of the semi-truck, causing it to have to work harder to go the same distance as a semi-truck carrying lighter cargo. Overloading a semi-truck leads to tire and brake failures, as well as making it more difficult to drive. All of which can lead to accidents, putting the lives of everyone on the road in danger.

Highest Mileages of a Semi Truck

While most semi trucks tap out at around 750,000,000 miles, if it is well maintained and taken care of, it can reach 1 million and even up to 2 million. The world record for most miles driven in a singular semi-truck was broken in 2009 by William Coe, Jr., who drove 3,001,276 miles in his truck. On top of this impressive feat, he hadn’t had a singular preventable accident occur in his 23 years of driving.

Truck Maintenance Costs Per Mile

The maintenance cost for a semi-truck can range between $0.09 per mile to $0.40 per mile. Maintenance costs include all labor, parts, and supplies related to the upkeep of the truck. 

Maintenance costs can be reduced by having regular inspections and maintenance checks to prevent future truck failures or breakdowns. When trucks break down, trucking companies lose money on both repairs and the fact that the truck cannot make money until it is fixed. While upfront maintenance costs may seem expensive, it’s better to practice preventative maintenance and solve the problem before it happens.

While each truck may require a different maintenance schedule, an average semi-truck requires the following maintenance:

  • Every 6 months: Battery Service
  • Every 12 months: Axle Alignment and Air Filter Fuel Tank Vent
  • Every 15,000 miles: Chassis Lube
  • Every 30,000 miles: Oil change, Air Filter, and Fuel Filter
  • Every 150,000 miles: Airy Dryer Filter, Power Steering Fluid, and DEF System Service

It is also recommended that once a year, the truck should undergo a full, thorough inspection that includes analyzing the performance of the engine to determine if it is safe to drive. Drivers also have daily inspections to ensure their vehicle is up to standard. However, the maintenance duties of the semi trucks ultimately fall on the trucking companies.

The most common problems in semi trucks are:

  • Tire Blowouts
  • Brakes Failure
  • Oil Leaks
  • Electrical Issues
  • Engine Overheating
  • Broken Clutch
  • Suspension Issues
  • Exhaust Breakdowns
  • Battery Failure

While having routine inspections and scheduled maintenance can prevent a large proportion of problems, it can’t stop everything. Batteries will die, brake pads will wear, and parts will break. Following a maintenance schedule is vital to prolonging the life of a semi-truck and preventing accidents on the road.