Just out of curiosity, do you guys consider owner operators and contractors the same thing? I've been doing the math for a while with the company Im currently driving for and it seems like I could do pretty well owning my own truck and driving for them. I dont expect to make a million in my first year either. Maybe the second jk.
From our Humble experience running three trucks lots of miles a week.
We now have a Peterbilt with 4.4 million KM with no major engine repairs to our knowledge, did the main bearings this summer .
One freightliner 2004 - 1.8 million Km (mercedes engine)
One freightliner 2005 - 1.65 million Km. (mercedes engine)
The freightliners are better on fuel but not as reliable. they get 2.7 and 2.9 km /l respectively.
The pete gets 2.59km/l.
Do not go near a VOLVO unless you are Russian or Romanian and must have one. Notorious for electrical problems that are costly and hard to repair on the road.
I know nothing about Internationals, they were crap back in the mid nineties so never got one. I hear they are good now.
I would recommend a peterbilt that is a few years old with a Cummins. It would have to be a Plastic Pete if you want to venture into California.
They cost a little more up front but are much more reliable. The dealer network in the US is great and they are not overwhelmed with work so they can always fit you in.
Freightliner, dealers can be several day wait.
You have only one truck and if it does not run you do not earn.
Do not buy brand new as the warranty is usually useless from my experience. Buy older in good shape!
Secret to longeavity is using LUCAS oil additive at every opportunity.