Truck dealerships are in the business to make money, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But, as a trucker, you need to be armed with information to keep from paying too much. After all, you’re in the business to make money, too. And spending more than you need to cuts into your profits.
Of course a truck dealership makes money off of truck sales, parts sales and truck service and repairs. But there are other ways a truck dealership makes money that many truckers don’t know about. These are through tractor financing, tow bills, parts pricing, and express shipping.
When you go to buy a truck, you’ll want to pay cash or have your financing arranged through a bank or other financial institution. If you have the dealership arrange financing, you’ll be paying a higher interest rate than you need to. Most dealerships will tack on a portion of a percentage point to the interest rate on a truck loan they arrange for you. But some dealerships will add on several percentage points. Those are the ones you want to watch out for. The dealership legitimately should get paid for the work their financing department does- collecting your information and submitting it to various financing agencies- but you can get a better interest rate if you are willing to do all that leg work for yourself.
If you are towed into a dealership by a heavy wrecker for a repair, pay the bill yourself. When you get towed in you may be tempted to have the truck dealership pay for the tow bill and add it to your final bill- after all, it seems like less hassle to delay the payment and just pay one bill for the whole repair. But if you have the truck dealer pay the tow bill, you’ll find that the dealership adds on to what the heavy wrecker charges. Some dealerships may add a small percentage to the bill and some may add a large one. But you, the truck owner, will pay less if you pay the tow truck yourself. Most tow truck drivers can take care of the credit card payment on the spot or the tow truck company can arrange to take payment over the phone.
Check around to other dealerships to make sure you’re not being overcharged. Some dealerships can take a lot of liberty in the prices they charge and they take advantage of that fact. Make sure when you check around that you’re calling dealerships that are not affiliated with each other. You’ll find that often times, dealerships in the same geographical area are owned by the same parent company. And always try to buy your parts in a state that allows truckers with ICC numbers sales tax exemption.
When your truck is broke down and you don’t want to wait for the parts to come in by regular freight, a dealer will charge shipping to get the parts in sooner. You won’t be paying for the freight bill directly to the shipping company. The dealership pays the freight and adds the charge to your bill. But the dealership is going to charge more than what the basic freight bill is. You can save some money if you can arrange to pick up the parts yourself, or, if you know you’ll need certain parts ahead of time, you can arrange to have the parts shipped in before you get there. Most truck dealerships will require you to pay in advance for the parts you’re ordering in since they’ll be considered special order.
Whether truck dealerships are deceptive about some of the ways they make money is a matter of opinion. But, as a truck owner, you can even the playing field simply by being aware of their methods and by being aware that a truck dealership is not likely to disclose all the details to the truck drivers they service. The bottom line is: it’s your money, spend it wisely.