American Truck Simulator Strategy

This blog post is going to cover American Truck Simulator strategy tips.  Some may be obvious, but some may not be.  But before we get started, It’s been over a week since American Truck Simulator was released.  Do you have your copy?  No????  Why not???  Oh, you may be thinking what fun is it to just drive a diesel truck around California and Nevada?  Huh…ask yourself that question again please.  Come on…you get to drive a truck around California and Nevada!  Trust me!  It’s worth the twenty bucks ($19.99)…so go buy it already!

I’ve been watching a lot of Twitch streams featuring ATS in the past few days.  Some are better than others and trust me…I have some BIG opinions about some of the folks streaming game content.  But I’ll keep that to myself for now.  Anyway, obviously many ATS players have experience with Euro Truck Simulator 2 (ETS2) and for the most part they are using that learned experience in getting the most from their initial days in ATS.  Many others have mortgaged the farm and are literally living payday to payday to keep their company moving down the road.  Finally, others have installed cheats and are driving around with millions of dollars in cash and high amounts of XP.  For me, part of my enjoyment with these types of games is what I refer to as “career mode” and that is playing the game just as it was intended to be played/experienced and not cheating.  Yes…IT WILL start off slow at first.  But trust me, it will keep you coming back time and time again.

Resist the urges

Yes, resist the urges to immediately purchase your own truck.  I fully understand this is painfully hard to do.  Especially for first time players to the game.  But take time and enjoy working for someone else performing Quick Orders.  While the pay is not great, you don’t have to worry about fuel costs.  In addition, you can experience a variety of different truck types/brands which may help you when it comes time to make your first truck purchase.  But I recommend you operate in this mode and delay your first truck purchase until you have the chance to level up a few times.  Yes, this will mean using discipline to ignore the first email from the bank offering that first loan.

Your first truck

Yea….that’s a special feeling when you make the decision to buy your first truck.  Enjoy this moment…you’ve deserved it.  But keep in mind that you’ll need about $120,000.  This is why I recommend you operate as a driver lessee taking quick orders and save up $30,000 – $40,000.  Then take out a $100,000 loan.   This will allow you to purchase the stock truck from either Kenworth or Peterbilt and give you some extra $$$ for fuel, tolls and fines (should you get any).  Operate as a one-man company and enjoy.  Keep in mind each day the bank will charge you the loan installment.  The loan installment for the $100,000 loan will be $1,814.  So keep this in mind as you are planning and picking your jobs.

Explore, Learn and Save

Now that you own your very first truck, it’s time to really get to work.  Choose jobs as close to where your truck is currently located.  If your truck is in Los Angeles and you choose a job out of San Diego, then you’ll incur additional fuel costs (plus time is money) to first drive to San Diego.  As you complete your deliveries, make sure to also explore.  You’ll want to discover additional truck dealerships, but most importantly you want to discover job agencies.  Keep in mind, the more job agencies you discover, the more variety of skilled drivers you’ll have the option to hire.  If at all possible, delay purchasing a second truck and hiring the first driver until you have discovered all ten job agencies.

By exercising some patience, you will have the opportunity to increase your very own experience.  This is needed to open up better paying jobs.  Remember, the deeper in debt you go…the loan payments will go up.


Each time you level up, you have the opportunity to upgrade one of your skill areas.  What you choose will matter.  For now, ignore the Eco Driving skill and don’t waste your earned points on this skill.  Apply new earned points towards Long Distance, Valuable Cargo, Fragile Cargo, Hazardous Cargo and On-Time Delivery.  Remember, until you unlock these skill areas the jobs offered to you will be limited in each of these areas.  Therefore, the opportunity to earn higher pay will also be limited.   Long distance is perhaps where I would suggest you apply your first point.  As the current ATS map is limited to California and Nevada, there is no need to worry about maxing out the Long Distance skill quickly.  Again, simply ignore applying any skill points towards Eco Driving and then balance out the others.

Truck Upgrade

Just as exciting as buying your first truck, upgrading that truck will be equally as exciting.  I know you are also excited to expand the company and hire drivers.  But I suggest you first spend a little of your hard-earned cash you’ve earned operating as a one-man company on an engine upgrade.  Upgrading the engine in your truck will allow you to more comfortable haul heavier loads and the ability to do so a little bit faster.  You can wait on adding other bells and whistles, but spend the $$ and upgrade your engine as soon as you can afford it.

Expansion Time

Keep in mind there is no rush to begin expanding your company.  The only limitations you have to accomplish this task is money and availability of skilled drivers.  Earlier I suggested waiting until you had discovered all ten job agencies.  The reason for this is it will give you the best choice of driver talent.  But we’re actually getting ahead of ourselves.  Before you can hire, you must first have available garage space and second you must have a truck for your new driver.

With regards to garage space.  The cost of expanding your one-man garage or buying a new garage in a different city is the same cost of $180,000.  Almost every city on the map will have an available garage which can be purchased.  You’ll need to visit that city, discover the garage and then make the purchase.  It probably makes the most sense to purchase a new garage in a second city.  This will allow you to eventually hire three drivers before the need to expand again.

Next, you need to purchase a second truck.  Until you have purchased five trucks, you will need to visit the dealership.  Once you have completed five purchases, then you have the option of buying online. All your new drivers will need is a base truck.  While there is rumor within the truck sim community that hired drives will be more productive in trucks with higher performing engines etc.  At this stage of your expansion, just buy them the stock truck.

Finally, while hiring a driver is not rocket science…there are a few things you should consider.  First, keep in mind, initially no one is going to work as hard as you.  What I mean by this is if you’ve deferred expanding and hiring until you have reached level 6, 8, 12 etc. then your new hires will have much lower driver ratings than yourself.  This will mean the amount of income they will generate will be much, much, much less than what you are capable of generating.

Remember, the more job agencies discovered the more and better option for talent.  When looking at hiring a driver there are several important things to look for.  First, driver rating.  Second, salary and Third is skills.  While a lower driver rating will typically come with a lower salary, keep in mind it will take longer to bring that driver up to speed.  At this point, I suggest looking at skills.  Remember what I said about your own Eco Driving skill.  That also applies to hired drivers.  The most important skill to look for in a new driver is Long Distance.  Each recruited driver will cost you a commission fee of $1,500.

To sum it all up, to expand you will need a minimum of $300,000.  Whether you save up and pay in cash or take out a bank loan will be up to you.  But keep in mind that it will be some time before your newly hired driver(s) will earn their keep.  This may mean you will really need to carry the burden with the jobs you choose to ensure you are earning enough to cover the cost of the daily loan etc.

Driver Training

Don’t forget that as time passes, your hired drivers will level up.  You can set their driver profile to focus or train on any of the available skills.  How aggressive you are in their training is up to you.  But I typically set them to train on long distance until they have 2-3 points and then start them on the other areas.  The goal as you expand is to reach a point where the income generated by your hired drivers will exceed the daily cost of the bank loan.  But this takes time.

Final Thoughts

I’m truly excited about the possibilities for American Truck Simulator.  At the present time, I have my company HQ setup in Los Angeles and I have a second garage in San Diego.  I have a total of three drivers and looking at hiring two more which will bring me to capacity.  I will perhaps purchase my third garage in Las Vegas then wait until the Arizona DLC is available before expanding further.  The strategy is part of what I enjoy about this game.

I’ll provide an update on my second week progress on Tuesday and then return again with another Trucker’s Logbook entry and finally another mod review on Thursday.  Have a great week!

Until next time…

Happy Trucking!!!


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