Rocky Mountain Trucking LLC

The trend is clear. Used truck prices continue to fall across almost all years and models as new truck manufacturers gain an upper hand over supply chain disruptions.

So, those who purchased a used truck at a sky-high price a few months ago could be feeling buyer’s remorse, especially as spot freight rates have tumbled with contract rates falling right behind them. 

Buyer’s remorse

The chase for $4-a-mile loads is history. Scores of drivers who reactivated their Department of Transportation authorities are surrendering them and joining for-hire carriers or leaving trucking altogether.

It will be awhile before used equipment prices return to pre-pandemic levels, according to Chris Visser of J.D. Power Valuation Services.

“Looking at supply, the new truck backlog is still considerable, but deliveries have been above a historically typical 20,000 per month since March,” he wrote in Power’s Guidelines November newsletter. “Delivering this volume of trucks into a correcting freight environment means we can expect more trades and depreciation going forward.”

New Class 8 retail sales in the U.S. in October improved 34.5% compared with a year earlier, Wards Intelligence reported. Sales were 22,863 compared with 17,002 a year earlier.

Used truck prices still falling despite month-over-month blip

Preliminary used Class 8 retail volumes by the same dealers in October decreased 10% compared to September. They were 30% below October 2021, ACT Research reported. Retail prices averaged 1% higher month over month, but that was an anomaly rather than a reverse of months of decline, ACT Vice President Steve Tam said.

“As the OEMs have continued to make incremental progress on overcoming supply-chain constraints, marginal improvements in output have logically followed,” he said.

And just as the correlation between a tight supply of new trucks and stratospheric increases in used truck prices played out, the improving flow of new trucks is pushing used prices down.

Class 8 sleeper pricing declined moderately in October. The scarcity of low-mileage trucks is still keeping those prices high as other segments revert to the historic trend, Visser said.

In October, 3-to-6-year-old trucks sold for an average 2.8% less than in September and 20.8% less than a year earlier, depreciating an average of 5.6% a month. Late-model trucks in the first 10 months of the year sold for an average of 41.6% more than during the same period of 2021.  

Downward pressure on used truck prices into 2023

Power expects used truck prices to continue falling under downward pressure in 2023, but for now auction prices are holding up despite year-over-year comparisons turning negative in October.

At retail, depreciation accelerated for trucks with average mileage in October. The value difference between individual makes and models is increasing, as is the impact of powertrain specifications.

Paccar Inc., the parent of Peterbilt and Kenworth trucks, said its used models continue to outperform the industry in pricing.

“Regardless of the part of the cycle we operate in, we tend to get that premium,” Paccar CEO Preston Feight told analysts on the company’s third-quarter earnings call on Oct. 25. “We continue to take advantage of the opportunities of selling more retail and that’s helped as a business in the long term.”

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