The cost of purchasing and operating a garbage truck is an important consideration for waste management companies or municipalities looking to upgrade or expand their fleets. With prices ranging from $100,000 for a basic used rear loader to over $350,000 for an automated side loader, garbage trucks represent a significant capital investment. Choosing the right truck for your needs and budget requires careful research into purchase costs, fuel efficiency, maintenance expenses, crew requirements, and more.
This article provides 5 quick tips to help you evaluate the true cost of a garbage truck over its useful lifespan. Whether you’re buying new or used trucks, focusing on the total cost of ownership will lead to smarter purchasing decisions for your organization.
The upfront cost to purchase a new or used garbage truck can vary greatly depending on size, features, brand, and supply at dealerships.
Financing options like loans and leasing can change your upfront costs and total spending over time. Always negotiate the best rate and term length to minimize interest fees.
The resale value of used trucks also impacts your net costs. Well-maintained automated models hold value much better than standard rear loaders.
Fuel can account for up to 30% of the annual operating budget for a garbage truck. Fuel efficiency varies widely depending on truck specifications like weight, engine type, and transmission:
- Standard rear loader: 3-5 miles per gallon
- Semi-automated side loader: 4-6 MPG
- Fully automated side loader: 5-7 MPG
With today’s diesel prices averaging $3 per gallon, you can expect to spend $15,000 to $25,000+ on fuel per truck annually. Carefully calculating costs for your routes and operating hours will prevent unexpected fuel costs from eating your profits.
Tip 3: Weigh Maintenance Requirements and Expenses
Maintenance keeps trucks safely on the road for years of useful service. Younger trucks generally require less maintenance for the first 5 years. But by 10 years old, repairs tend to accumulate rapidly.
Basic rear loaders have the lowest part costs, while highly automated models require more specialized service and expensive hydraulic and electrical parts. Budget approximately $8,000 to $12,000 for annual maintenance costs per truck.
Neglecting maintenance to cut costs is false savings and leads to more severe issues and downtime down the road.
The number of operators or drivers needed per truck significantly impacts labor costs. Standard rear loaders require 3-person crews, while advanced side loaders can be operated by a single worker.
Route density, distance traveled, number of stops, and pickup locations also determine costs. Smart route planning and GPS can optimize schedules to handle more houses per day while minimizing mileage and fuel consumption.
Examining operational factors like automation, crew size, and routing will help refine cost estimates for real-world collection.
|Impact on Cost
|Number of operators/drivers per truck
|More workers = higher labor costs
|Route density and number of stops
|More stops in close proximity = better fuel efficiency
|Distance traveled per route
|Longer routes = more fuel burned
|Clustered locations = shorter drive times
|Route optimization software and GPS
|Can significantly improve route efficiency
|Automated vs manual trucks
|Automated models need only 1 operator
Tip 5: Compare Multiple Truck Models and Manufacturers
With so many variables at play, no two garbage trucks will have the exact same cost profile. Comparing multiple models by different brands can highlight key tradeoffs to suit your budget:
- Automated trucks have higher upfront costs but allow single-operator efficiency
- Used rear loaders have lower purchase prices but rack up expenses over time
- Advanced safety tech cuts insurance rates but adds more sensors to maintain
- Diesel hybrid systems improve fuel economy for higher sticker prices
Test driving trucks yourself gives first-hand experience with comfort, visibility, noise, and special features too. Evaluating several options against your specific needs makes it easier to balance acquisition costs against long term savings.
Calculating the true cost of a garbage truck takes research, planning, and foresight into future operating costs. While purchase price plays a big role, fuel efficiency, maintenance, crew needs, and routing all weigh on your bottom line as well. Comparing multiple trucks and manufacturers makes it easier to find the ideal balance of performance and value over the full lifetime of these heavy-duty vehicles.
What is the average lifespan of a garbage truck?
With proper maintenance, garbage trucks typically remain in service 10-15 years. Well maintained automated models may last up to 20 years.
How many miles do garbage trucks last?
Garbage trucks can log 50,000 to 100,000 miles over their usable lifespan. Daily collection routes represent stop-start short haul driving which takes less of a toll than long highway miles.
What features add the most cost to new garbage trucks?
The greatest cost additions for new automated trucks come from advanced hydraulics, increased hopper size, CNG compatibility, diesel hybrid drivetrains, and specialized bodies. Top-of-the-line safety sensors also bump up pricing.
What questions should I ask dealerships about lifetime costs?
Key questions to ask dealers include average fuel economy, brake replacement intervals, availability of replacement parts, warranty coverage by systems, and typical maintenance costs by model. This data helps estimate outlays over your ownership period.