There’s a lot of debate on glider kit trucks. In an effort to comb through the noise, CSM has created a pros and cons Glider Kit buyer’s guide.
A glider kit is a truck with a remanufactured engine and transmission. Gliders are built by adding these engines and transmissions to a cab and chassis. While the cab and chassis are brand new, the engine and transmission are remanufactured with parts from salvage companies and truck tear downs. Typically the engine is a from pre-2010 core.
Since engine cores and transmissions are older than 2010 they can avoid the strict environmental regulations set by the EPA, while also harnessing advancements in ride control and creature comforts.
Glider kits allow for straight forward mechanics, but are they worth the price tag and the prior wear on the powertrain? Let’s examine.
Glider Truck Pros
Lower maintenance costs
Since glider engines use older parts and technology, they are easier to fix and work on. With ease, technicians with less training can fix glider engines in-house, thus reducing the cost of repairing glider kits. Glider kits additionally have lower upfront costs and improved resale value. In fact, these trucks can get as much as $10,000 more in resale, and seven to nine percent more at auction.
By purchasing a glider kit, fleets and owner/operators can avoid the 12% federal excise tax.* This is in addition to avoided EPA costs.
More buying options
Gliders are built by combining new truck bodies with major components, the newest safety equipment, and remanufactured engines. This gives the purchaser total customizability of their truck. The complete customization of the truck can lead to some creative combinations. For example, the Freightliner Coronado never was built with a CAT or Series 60 engine. As a result of glider kits, Coronado’s with CAT engines can be built and driven on the haul.
Glider Truck Cons
Lack of emissions standards
The EPA has looser regulations on glider kits. Depending on the year of the assembled engine, the engine might not have modern emissions systems like diesel particle filters or selective catalytic reduction.
Emissions and safety
Although glider kit owners can save a couple bucks, the EPA’s regulations are actually helping reduce pollution. A 2017 model is 98% cleaner than a 2000 model glider, while the average glider kit emits between 43 and 55 times more pollution than 2014 and 2015 models.
In addition, the State of California has strict regulations on the emissions standards of their trucks. The state requires a particulate filter in these trucks older than 2006. By complying with this requirement, one would reduce the benefits of getting a glider kit. Those looking for a glider kit should be wary of this requirement and should avoid driving in California.
The EPA estimates there are only 10,000 glider kits built annually, which is only 5% of the Class 8 trucks on the road. The lack of available gliders results in an influx of demand, which drives up the price of buying a “used” glider kit. As mentioned previously in the Pro’s section, these trucks can get as much as $10,000 more in resale, and seven to nine percent more at auction.
Although this can be construed as benefit for sellers, issues arise in trade-ins with dealerships. Some dealers will not take gliders as a result of the uncertainty of where the truck’s components came from and whether they can apply the aftermarket warranty to them. This issue can be reduced by purchasing from a reputable glider maker.
To each their own – like any other hot button issue, one can’t fault someone for opting for the legal option they see best for their purposes. As for a debate on legislation, that’s for politicians. At CSM Companies, we know trucks – and that’s all we care about. Glider or no glider, if it’s a Kenworth, you’re in good shape.
Keep in mind, this subject matter is evolving. Any info in this post is subject to change. This content was originally published in 2017.