What First-Time Used Semi Truck Buyers Should Know About Purchasing A Truck

Posted on: 18 August 2015

Buying your first semi truck can be an exciting adventure; it represents your willingness to branch out and be your own boss. However, buying a used semi truck can be overwhelming to the new buyer, and if you aren't prepared, you may not purchase the best truck for your needs. Below are several buying hints that will help you make the right decision when searching for and, ultimately, buying your first used truck:

Know your priorities

One of the most important considerations to keep in mind while looking at Mack trucks for sale is to establish priorities and stick with them until the paperwork is signed. It can be easy to allow your eye to be distracted by shiny chrome or the latest in cab technology, but remember that a truck that runs reliably and hauls your customers' cargo day-in and day-out is what pays the bills.

For first-time truck buyers, take a look at fuel economy ratings to get a sense for how much the truck is going to cost to operate. In addition, consider the horsepower, gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and gross combined weight rating (GCWR) to understand how much weight the truck can handle. You don't want to be left short in hauling capacity and limit your cargo types unnecessarily.

Don't obsess over mileage

You probably already know that semi trucks have a much higher mileage capacity than light passenger vehicles, but it can still be frightening to think about purchasing a truck with hundreds of thousands of miles on the odometer. However, while mileage concerns are valid when looking at used trucks, the amount of miles on the odometer is not nearly as important as other factors. In fact, most semi trucks should be able to handle nearly one million miles of over-the-road hauling. As long as a truck's engine is provided a comprehensive overhaul around half a million miles, then it should be in good shape to continue many more miles in the future.

Consider parts availability

Semi trucks are designed to operate for a long time due to an expectation that parts can be replaced easily and in a cost-effective manner. However, not all trucks are created equal when it comes to part availability and price. Some brand parts are much more expensive than other makers' parts, so be smart and shop around to test what parts will cost on average.

In addition, parts are not always evenly distributed around the nation; some truck manufacturers have a concentration of parts suppliers that are limited to specific geographical areas such as the East Coast or Pacific Northwest. You should be sure that you can obtain needed parts in all areas of the country where you haul cargo, or you may find yourself stranded and forced to wait for expensive towing of the vehicle.

Critically review the maintenance records

Another important facet of used semi shopping is gaining access to the complete, reliable set of maintenance and service records for the truck itself. The records should contain information that documents the date and type of repair or procedure. There should be no break in the dates of service for routine maintenance such as fluid changes, and all repairs should be extensively documented.

If you have difficulty locating the information you are seeking, consult with the seller of the truck to see if other records are available or if you can access service records from the prior owner. For example, a truck used in fleet service may have trucking company records that can be accessed. If the records are not still available, then you may need to consider passing on the purchase of the truck. There are too many unknowns to buy a truck that may end up being a costly venture by requiring constant part replacement and other work. Only the past records can provide a definitive answer to those types of questions.

Buy from an established, reputable dealer

While you can purchase a used semi truck from just about anywhere or anyone, including other owners, it can be to your advantage to buy from a known dealer with a stable history. Reputable dealers can't afford to sell consistently-unreliable vehicles, and established dealers will usually back their used semi trucks with warranties and other incentives to demonstrate their confidence in a vehicle's integrity.