Will Your Next Used Truck Purchase Have A Speed Limiter?

Regulating semi-truck and bus speeds has been on the federal government's agenda for quite some time, but it's only recently that federal authorities have decided to take action. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently announced a joint effort to limit the top speeds of semi-trucks and buses to between 60 and 68 mph. Although the effort is currently aimed at new trucks, many are wondering if used trucks will eventually be under the same mandate.

What's the Deal with Speed Limiters?

According to the federal proposal, all newly manufactured trucks and buses with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,000 pounds or more to be equipped with electronic speed limiters. Qualifying vehicles will also be limited to a top speed of 60, 65 or 68 mph, depending on the final word from regulators if and when the proposal is finalized.

Safety and fuel consumption are two primary concerns that the NHTSA and FMCSA hope to address. With speed considered a major factor in crashes involving semi-trucks, regulators believe that reducing truck and bus top speeds can help reduce crashes annually. According to both agencies, capping semi-truck and bus top speeds to 65 mph could save up to 214 lives each year, while lowering the cap an additional 5 mph could save up to 498 lives each year.

A number of large fleets already use speed limiters as a way to reduce fuel consumption and save on fuel costs. Recent testing found that a semi-truck traveling at 75 mph used 27 percent more fuel than if it was traveling at 65 mph. As a result, many fleets limit their heavy vehicles at 65 mph. The widespread adoption of speed limiters for new trucks is projected to help both fleet and non-fleet truckers save up to $1.1 billion in fuel costs.

Trickle-Down Technology May Impact Used Trucks Later On

Although speed limiters seem like the sole province of fuel and safety-conscious trucking fleets, they're actually more widespread than many people think. Nearly every modern semi-truck has speed governing capabilities already baked into the ECM. In most cases, it's only a matter of activating a few settings to limit a truck's top speed to any speed desired.

According to the federal proposal, this technology will only be mandatory for newly manufactured semi-trucks. However, you can expect trucks equipped with this feature to eventually trickle down to the used market. There aren't any plans to require owners of older semi-trucks to retrofit their vehicles with speed limiters, so savvy buyers may be able to avoid them if they choose to.

Buying a Truck with a Speed Limiter

From the outset, it's hard to tell if a semi-truck has an active speed limiter unless you scan the truck's ECM for its current speed limiter settings. However, certain used trucks are more likely to be speed-limited than others. Ex-fleet semi-trucks are more likely to be limited to a particular top speed, especially those that were once part of a large-scale national fleet. On the other hand, trucks primarily owned and driven by owner-operators are less likely to have their limiters enabled.

Since there aren't any laws as of yet that require the use of speed limiters in the U.S., used semi-truck buyers are currently free to bypass or disable speed limiters. Some used trucks may already have their limiters disabled, either by the previous owner or the dealership.

There are many truck drivers who disagree with the idea of having their truck's top speed arbitrarily limited. In many cases, this can become a factor when it comes to buying a used semi-truck. If you're looking to purchase a used semi-truck, check out websites like http://www.arrowtruck.com/ to find out what types of trucks are available.