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Trucks you only need a car licence to drive

As slow, annoying, smoke-belching and generally lumpen as they are, there’s something strangely romantic about the idea of driving a truck. 

Perhaps it’s what partly explains our recently found love of pick-up trucks like the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger, or what we like to call, with typical Aussie understatement, “utes”.

The secret dream of a lot of blokes, however, and no doubt some women, is to hit the wide open road in a massive semi-trailer, kipping in the cosy cabin, talking impenetrable rubbish on the CB radio and living on a diet of truck-stop lard and chips.

The reality, of course, is that getting your truck licence is not easy, nor should it be, but what if you want, or genuinely need, something truck sized, or just a small truck, because the work you do requires something more capacious than a giant one-tonne ute?

Are there trucks that can be driven on a car licence? How light is a “light truck”? The answer to all your car licence truck questions are right here.

What truck can I drive on a car licence?

The good news is that the biggest truck that can be driven on a car licence is quite big, the slightly concerning news is that that means a lot of people you see struggling to park, or manoeuvre, a Toyota Yaris are legally allowed to hit the road in something massive.

With your car licence, you are allowed to pilot a 4.5-tonne truck, which is considered a light truck. That sounds simple enough, if you buy your vehicles by weight like potatoes, but there’s actually a bit more to it.

That 4.5-tonne limit includes the truck and the load it’s carrying, which means the truck itself has to weigh significantly less.

Payloads vary from truck to truck and the weight of the tray installed makes a big difference, but you can expect to carry a load of about 2000kg, or double your HiLux. Maximum tow rating will be about 3500kg.

Truck makers are aware of this car-licence market, of course, and have come up with special light trucks that come fitted with all the great you’ll need.

Trucks are often delivered in cab-chassis form and it is up to you to fit an appropriate body. There are many options but the buyer often has to wait several weeks for the body to be completed and this can be expensive, so be careful with costs.

What are my options?

The brands you’ll be shopping for include Hino, Isuzu and Fuso and they aren’t exactly cheap.

Prices for these Japanese engineered machines start at around $45,000, but even a second-hand Hino 300 Series, from 2016, with more than 90,000km on the clock, will set you back $57,900, because it’s got a six-pallet curtainsider fitted on the back.

For a cab-chassis alone, a Hino 300 with similar kays can be had for around $43,000.

In short, the costs can vary wildly depending on what you plonk out the back of your machine, which will be determined by what you need to use it for.

The market leader is probably Isuzu, and if you’re looking to go cheaper you might want to shop a Chinese brand like Foton, which you can pick up for as little as $21,500 second hand, or $38,990 new, both with cab-chassis.

Happy trucking, good buddy, 10/4 and so on.

Do you hanker to go trucking? Let us know what you think in the comments.