What Are The Biggest Owner Operator Expenses?

Trucking Company Startup Expenses

While many of our students at L.A Truck Driving School graduate and immediately begin working for a trucking company, there’s also a good percentage of our students who earn their CDL and become an owner-operator, beginning their own business. (Yes, with just one truck sometimes). And one of the most common questions that we’re asked is, “What are the biggest owner-operator expenses when a driver decides to start up their own trucking company?”

If you’re thinking about becoming an owner-operator after earning your CDL, read on for several of the biggest startup expenses—after the purchase of the truck, of course.


Let’s start with the biggest owner operating expense: fuel. A truck can easily use more than $70,000 of gas each year, so it’s smart to understand this right off the bat.

Trucking Company Startup Expenses - Gas

Driver Salaries

Maybe, for the time being, this will only be one driver—you. But even if it’s just you, you still have to pay yourself. With the average trucker salary being $40,000, this is the second-biggest owner operator expense there is.

Trucking Company Startup Expenses - Driver Salaries

Tied-Up Cash

Something that many new owner-operators don’t count on is having to wait to get paid by their customers after delivery. This might not sound like a big deal, but when have large expenses and then you’re waiting for 30, 60, or even 90 days to be paid, it can become an issue. Because of this, many truckers decide to work with a freight factoring company. A freight factoring company saves trucking companies from tied-up cash by buying the trucking company’s invoices so that the trucking company has cash to cover expenses. Instead of the trucking company waiting to be paid, the freight factoring company waits instead. This is a huge help for trucking companies who want to be paid immediately.

Trucking Company Startup Expenses - Late Payments

Truck Maintenance

Brakes…alternators…wiring…tires. A truck has many needs, and they all need to be paid for as soon as they’re noticed, or else you’re putting yourself at risk for more serious damage, as well as danger. Taking care of repairs and tires can cost up to $19,000 each year.

Trucking Company Startup Expenses - Maintenance


Insurance costs for trucks vary widely, but owner-operators might end up paying anywhere from $8,000 to $12,500 a year. Be sure to determine exactly how much insurance will be costing you so that you can properly factor this into your budget.

Trucking Company Startup Expenses - Insurance

Red Tape

By “red tape”, we mean all the legal things like fees and company licensing. Some states (like California) require recurring business license costs. There are also taxes on heavy vehicles. Make sure to research everything about owner-operator trucking companies for your area and factor in each and every expense so that you’re not surprised by any hidden fees.

Trucking Company Startup Expenses - Fees

These are only some of the startup costs for beginning a trucking company. There are also tolls, extras for the truck (such as cooking equipment or a portable toilet), lodging (if you don’t have a cab in your truck), and of course, coffee! Also, don’t forget marketing, if you’re planning to do any advertising to get your name out there.

As you can see, even with just one truck, there are quite a lot of expenses. Be sure to weigh your options carefully when considering your own trucking company—and good luck! Be sure to contact us if you have any questions about earning your CDL.