Review and Comparisons of the OEMs: Peterbilt Vs. Kenworth Vs. Freightliner, etc.
When it comes to the trucking industry, there are a handful of big names that people commonly compare to each other. Take a closer look at some of them before deciding which type of truck you want to drive or which company to work for.
Freightliner is known in the trucking industry for offering a variety of trucks for any job grade. You can choose heavy- or medium-duty trucks or on-highway ones. There is an equally vast selection of cab sizes to choose from. The brand also does well with design, price, and efficiency. This combination and the range of trucks help Freightliner appeal to both owner-operators and fleet owners, as does its 75-year history.
In terms of efficiency, Freightliner designs its trucks with aerodynamics in mind. This gives your gas mileage a nice boost. If you want to conserve fuel further and reduce your carbon footprint, Freightliner also offers natural gas fueling for some of its models.
Another highlight of a Freightliner truck is its interior. As of 2016, all Freightliner trucks have 50% less cab noise. That reduction makes a significant difference with the long days that truckers spend on the road. As a bonus, drivers also appreciate the cab space in general.
Kenworth has more than 90 years of experience in the trucking industry, making it easy to be comfortable in their trucks. Owner-operators consistently rate their Kenworth vehicles highly. This is likely since part of the Kenworth design team is made up of experienced truckers.
Their Class 8 trucks tend to have the latest computer technology inside, along with an appealing exterior. That exterior features clean lines and a long nose.
Taking a closer look at the technology, you will find the Google applications and navigation built-in. The interface is intuitive, thanks to its similarity to smartphones. Other technology includes the web-based diagnostics tool in Kenworth trucks.
For those who need severe-duty trucks, Kenworth stands out, thanks to its options. Many have better load capacities than the competitors. They are also designed to work well with construction loads that are extremely heavy.
Kenworth is also one of the brands that tend to have fewer mechanical issues. This helps keep your truck on the road, reducing downtime that costs you money. If you have a problem, you get to take advantage of its wider dealership network as both Kenworth and Peterbilt are PACCAR brands. PACCAR dealerships are known to have shorter wait times for appointments compared to other brands.
While Kenworth trucks are popular, they still have some downsides, especially when compared to other trucks. One of these is the fact that other trucks offer better aerodynamics. That can affect your driving experience and fuel economy. The fact that Kenworth trucks tend to be heavier than the competition also hurts their efficiency. That lack of competitive efficiency makes Kenworth models more popular for owner-operators who only have a single truck than companies with fleets.
Mack is perhaps the most recognized of the OEMs in trucking and has more than a century of experience. The brand is known for driver safety, horsepower, and its array of capabilities.
Driver safety features are one of the big highlights of Mack trucks. For example, the “guard dog” feature lets the driver know about any faulty codes. It also diagnoses errors. There is also OneCall Roadside Assistance.
Mack also does a great job with interior noise reduction, thanks to sound-deadening walls. As mentioned earlier, this is a critical feature for drivers who spend hours on end in the cab.
Those in search of alternative fuel can choose a Mack truck that works with natural gas. Additionally, Mack worked closely with the EPA to exceed its emissions standards.
Peterbilt has almost 80 years of experience in engineering and manufacturing Class 8 trucks. The company does a great job at delivering design, safety, and efficiency. This combination makes it popular for both fleets and owner-operators.
The fuel economy of Peterbilt trucks is one of their high points. In fact, this is one of the few OEMs to offer a hybrid electric engine, and they offer more than one.
Peterbilt trucks also feature an aluminum body that is nice and light. This helps the trucks deliver great fuel efficiency.
The sleeper cabs are nice and cool, thanks to a brushless fan and remote condenser. Those cabs are also spacious enough for drivers on longer routes.
The trucks use Smartlinq remote diagnostics to help spot issues and keep drivers safe and the truck functional. Peterbilt also has a Driver Performance Assistant that gives real-time feedback. That feature is helpful for less experienced drivers.
Like Kenworth, Peterbilt is known for manufacturing trucks that have fewer mechanical issues.
Another high point is the lifespan of Peterbilt trucks. You will pay a bit more for them upfront, but they will be around for much longer than the competitors’ trucks. You get what you pay for and save yourself the hassle of having to buy a new truck. That longevity also translates into a better resale value from Peterbilt trucks than others.
Like any other OEM, Peterbilt trucks do have their flaws. The lineup does not include many heavy-duty models, meaning that most truckers who haul heavy loads will turn to a different brand.
Volvo specializes in trucks designed for on-highway use, so few drivers turn to them for heavy- or medium-duty trucks. The OEM is known for creating elegant and functional trucks.
Truckers on long hauls appreciate the extreme comfort of the sleeper cabins in Volvos. These are great for owner-operators or fleet managers, as they are comfortable enough to let drivers skip the hotel room.
The cabins of Volvo trucks also tend to be well-insulated, keeping out the noise to reduce distractions. This insulation also conserves energy.
Volvo trucks also have remote diagnostics via the Premium Tech Tool, a Windows-based app. It connects your computer and your truck, letting you easily diagnose problems.
Reasons to Have Front-End Protection on Your Truck
Whether you drive a pickup, a semi, or something in between, it is always a smart idea to install front-end protection on your truck. There is no harm in doing so, and it can potentially save you a great deal of money and frustration in the future.
Front-End Protection Reduces the Severity and Cost of Damage
If you only want a single reason to install front-end protection on your truck, then it should be to minimize the severity and cost of potential damage. Most of the other benefits of this type of protection come back to this point.
With a grille guard in place, your truck is much less likely to experience severe damage. Nearly any accident that affects the front end of your truck will result in less damage with a grille guard or other protection in place than without one.
Less damage results in less time off the road while taking care of repairs. It also reduces the cost of those repairs, at least in most cases. This means that just in damage prevention, front-end protection for your truck can quickly pay for itself.
In some cases, having protection on the front of your truck may even prevent damage that would have totaled the truck, reducing it to something that is possible to fix.
Grille and Bumper Guards Were Engineered for Protection
Remember that grille guards and bumper guards were engineered to protect your truck in case of an impact. Part of this comes from the fact that they bolt directly on the frame of your truck. That design means that if the front of your truck hits something, the guards will channel the energy of the impact to the frame, which is the sturdiest part of your truck. This contrasts with letting the energy affect your truck’s hood or bumper.
The engineering behind a grille guard means that they may bend in an accident, but they may not. If they do bend, they will do so to a lesser extent than the front areas of your truck’s body would have. Remember that those front body panels are typically part of the “crumple zones” that reduce energy.
Just keep in mind that in the case of a crash with a very high speed or high impact, front-end protection may increase the damage to some extent. However, for this to happen, the force of the crash would have to be enough to send the guard back into the truck, which is incredibly rare.
They Also Help with Wildlife Incidents
Grille guards and other front-end protection does more than just help if your truck collides with another vehicle or a stationary object. They are also surprisingly helpful when it comes to large or even midsize animals that get in your way on the road, such as livestock, moose, and deer.
Those who have seen the damage to trucks with and without grille guards over the years can confirm that trucks with them tend to do much better following an animal incident. In most cases, trucks without front-end protection will have significant front-end damage. This can even include the animal entering the vehicle through the grille and damaging the radiator or other internal components. Trucks without them are also more likely to have their front wheels damaged by an animal, leading to loss of control.
By contrast, if a truck has a grille guard or something similar, that guard may bend a little, but that is typically it. The animal is unlikely to cause internal damage, as it rarely gets past the guard and the grille. The distribution of impact energy also helps prevent wheel dislocation, leaving you in control.
That control is particularly important, as you need to be able to steer your truck to prevent an accident. This is particularly important with larger trucks like semis with plenty of cargo.
They Can Add Lighting
You can even take advantage of the new guard you install on your truck to add some other functionality, such as adding lights. Adding more lights to the front end of your truck enhances your safety by helping ensure that other vehicles on the road can see you in the dark. It can also help illuminate the area right in front of your truck if you need to stop and inspect the space for some reason.
They Do Not Interfere with Other Parts
If you are concerned about front-end protection getting in the way of other parts or accessories on your truck, like a tow hook, then you can rest easy. Front-end protection is designed to work with the common accessories and parts on trucks, including tow hooks. While you should always confirm that your chosen guard will not interfere with your tow hook or other accessories, it should be easy to find one that does not.
They Can Fit Any Budget
Some people are hesitant to install front-end protection on their truck because of the cost. To start, remember that the protection will likely pay for itself in terms of preventing damage and, therefore, expensive repairs. Think of it as an investment where you pay a little upfront to prevent paying more in the future. Best of all, the single investment can keep saving you money on repairs for damage that would have occurred.
Even if you are concerned about the upfront cost, you will be happy to know that there is front-end protection for all budgets. They become even more affordable when you compare the cost of the guard or other item to the cost of the truck as a whole, as well as how much you could potentially spend on repairs.
They Can Fit Any Truck
Another great thing about front-end protection is that you are not limited based on the type of truck. While you will always want to choose a guard that was designed to fit your truck, there are options available for all types of trucks. There are options for pickups, from the light-duty models to the heavy-duty versions; for semis; and for everything in between.
This means that you should not have to go out of your way to find protection that fits your truck, nor will you have to make any dramatic modifications to get it to work.
EVOLUTION OF THE SEMI-TRUCK: A LOOK AT SEMI-TRUCKS
A large diesel truck hauling a huge rectangular storage trailer with several sets of wheels, counting to 18, comes to mind at the mention of a semi-truck. When something so big comes with the name, it is hard not to wonder why the trucks are counted as only half. The “semi” term in semi-truck refers to the trailer portion. This portion is technically only half-sized according to when the vehicle design first originated in France in 1769. This was when Nicolas J. Cugnot developed his experimental artillery tractor.
That first experimental artillery tractor did not hit the US until the 19th century. Unfortunately, experimental vehicle builders were not encouraged as the railways were the main method of transporting goods across the country. It was not until the 1890s when the request for motor vehicles started to skyrocket. Originally, these motor wagons resembled horse-drawn versions with motors under the body. That meant these heavy machines were limited to short hauls on paved roads and limited to in-city deliveries and trips.
Of course, that did not stop everyone. Founded in 1896, Winton Motor Carriage Company of Cleveland, OH, pioneered the trucking industry. They designed the first truck to carry cargo in an attached trailer in 1898, delivering horseless carriages. The principle and design from the Winton Motor Carriage Company carried over into the creation of today’s flatbed trailers or “removable goosenecks” (RGN) and became part of the travel industry. Almost all of the camping trailers today use that design.
Development and Design
Unfortunately, none of these early trucks were known for efficiency or reliability. That meant most stuck to small loads and stayed in the city. They did become advertisements for the novelty of having a semi-truck. It was at this point, in 1910, that new designs for the semi-truck began increasing the company’s profits. Designers took the improvements made for passenger cars and applied them to their vehicles. They placed vertical four-cylinder engines under a hood in front of the driver and replaced chain drive options with several forms of the gear drive.
In 1912 specifically, the development of the tractor and semi-trailer combination took advantage of the serviceable four-wheel wagons originally pulled by horses. The layout meant the tractor’s back wheels replaced the horses and front wheels, giving us the semi-trailer look still used today.
Boost of Production
There were 25,000 trucks produced in 1914, and that tripled in 1915. Poor road conditions and a maximum speed of 15 miles per hour kept the trucks relegated to city streets. Simultaneously, August Charles Fruehauf, a blacksmith in Detroit, designed a method to haul a boat on a trailer and created another design for lumber. It was not until 1918 that he created the Fruehauf Trailer Company.
World War I forced additional attention on new designs for the trucks to suit military needs. They sent several of these trucks overseas with the 2 million troops. One of the improvements included inflatable tires that made it easier to drive over rugged terrain. Two trucks became the focus moving forward, with their designs built by White and Mack. Because of how well they could be used during the war, the trucks became the most used around the country. By 1920, there were a million semi-trucks.
During the war, railroads became congested and inefficient at hauling freight. It was during this time that semi-trucks began to pick up the slack left by the railway industry. With the addition of better tires, specifically pneumatic tires that were capable of withstanding heavier loads, drivers could increase their truck’s speed by double. With the higher speeds of these hauling vehicles, it required the country to start bettering the roads. The hard-surfaced highway system began the process of expanding its network across the country.
It was not long that the developments gave semi-trucks their value. Power-assisted brakes, three-axle trucks, and six-cylinder engines showed improvements, boosting the new highway system’s safety and efficiency. Heavier loads were able to be taken in the early 1930s, a 500 percent increase. Additional innovations, such as trailer switching arrangements that allowed reduction of extra freight handling and led to the development of standardized sizes of trailers, fifth wheels, brakes, and other components, meant these trucks became the backbone of American industry. It was at this time that diesel trucks were introduced in the 1930s. It was not until the decade after in the 1940s that shortages of steel, rubber, and gasoline slowed the industry’s standard growth and the alternative fuel truck became more common.
The Second World War
During World War II, the government ordered and deployed over 35,000 Mack trucks to assist in the war effort. The trucks also came into play when railroads no longer serviced some cities and towns. It was after the war that the trucking industry resumed its regular but rapid growth. In the 1950s to 1960s, the latest development was called “intermodal” shipping or “piggybacking.” The terms meant companies were using railway flatcars to ship loaded semi-trailers long-distance. In 1970 alone, 1,264,501 semi-trailers were shipped this way on flatcars. During that same year, the national truck total was 18,747,781, triple that of the 1941 figure.
The 1980 Staggers Act and the 1980 Motor Carrier Act played big parts in affecting the trucking industry. The first affected the regulatory control the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) had over railroads. The second partially deregulated trucking. This allowed the number of piggybacking semi-trailers to increase by 70 percent in just five years after the acts’ introduction. This also allowed the number of freight carriers who got permission from the ICC to extend their network nationwide to grow from under 100 in 1980 to 5,000 in 1990.
Semi-trucks haul about 70 percent of all freight in the US today. White and Mack still exist as subsidiaries of parent companies, such as Navistar, Volvo, PACCAR, and Daimler. Currently, 36 million trucks are used today. 3.7 million are in the Class 8 category, which is the most recognized semi-truck from the public. They haul over 6 million trailers across the continent. Those Class 8 truck brands include Kenworth, Peterbilt, International, and DAF.
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