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What Used Trucks to Avoid

Drivers and trucking companies alike purchase used trucks because they are less expensive than buying a brand new vehicle. By buying an older semi truck, you can save tens of thousands of dollars. 

However, some used trucks are more trouble than the savings are worth. Frequent repairs and visits from the mechanic can add up, quickly turning your cost-saving strategy into an inescapable nightmare.

Knowing what to look for in a pickup truck can help you avoid accidentally purchasing a used vehicle that causes a lot of issues. Keep reading to learn about which used trucks you should avoid.

Is It Worth Buying a Used Truck?

A used truck is often more financially feasible for people, especially when you consider that new semi trucks can cost upwards of $150,000 or more. Comparatively, you can find many used trucks for under $100,000. 

The cost difference typically gives people more flexibility, allowing them to afford repairs and other situations that naturally arise from owning a vehicle. Most people consider buying new trucks to save money, but some of the older models are also far sturdier than the newer models. 

Properly maintained trucks can feel and perform just as well as new vehicles, no matter how old they are. However, you don’t always know how the previous driver treated the truck before you buy it from them, and some trucks will have had multiple drivers before they get passed onto you. 

Though you can check records, you will never have the complete picture unless you buy a new semi truck, so that will always be a risk. Also, new vehicles are a lot less prone to breakdowns since they have fewer miles on them. 

Still, tying your money up in a new vehicle can present many risks as well. Ultimately, the affordability factor of old semi trucks come into play when you want to create an entire fleet. 

Trucking companies that are willing to buy older models can purchase anywhere from three to five used trucks for the same amount of money as one new truck would cost. As you can see, there is a significant price difference between new and old trucks. 

7 Things To Consider When Buying a Used Semi Truck

It’s important that you do not rush into the process of buying a semi truck. Quickly purchasing a used vehicle without comparing options or conducting adequate research can yield a bad investment. The following details can help you determine if a used semi truck is optimal for your company or if it would ultimately be setting you up for disappointment down the road. 

Vehicle Papers

Vehicle papers can tell you a lot about a semi truck. Plus, they are easy to access. You can find public records of a semi truck if you know its VIN. From there, you can access a list of previous owners, accidents, maintenance history and various other details about the vehicle. 

Doing your due diligence before purchasing a semi truck can help you avoid surprises in the future. If the vehicle has ever been in an accident, you can either walk away from the semi truck altogether or use the vehicle’s history as leverage to negotiate a lower price. 

Doors and Seals

Inadequate doors and seals can increase trucking costs. Inefficiencies will exacerbate the amount of air resistance on the vehicle, thereby requiring you to use more gas power to cover the same distances. 

You will burn through more gallons of gas without covering any additional ground. Certain issues can disrupt the temperature in your load as well, which can ruin food, pharmaceuticals and other temperature-sensitive freight. 

Tire Condition

The condition of your tires may not seem important since you can replace bad tires with new ones. Truck drivers always have a quick fix for bad tires, but an old semi truck’s tire condition can make you more aware of the vehicle’s overall maintenance. 

If prior owners of the semi truck you are thinking about buying did not bother to replace worn-out tires, that could leave you wondering where else they might have cut corners in terms of their truck’s overall maintenance. Neither you nor the current owner will fully know the semi truck’s underlying problems if you cannot speak with the truck’s original owner. 

A new set of tires does not always guarantee that the truck will be reliable, but they do indicate that the owner likely maintained the truck effectively. It is a big plus if all of the tires were replaced at the same time because this would increase traction and improve overall handling. Also, all tires should be from the same brand. 


Used semi trucks will have high mileage, but too much mileage can increase repair costs. You will find many used trucks with anywhere from 200,000 to 500,000 miles. Trucks with anywhere more than 500,000 miles will be more affordable, but they will also pose more risks. 

Those additional miles can weaken the engine, requiring it to burn more oil just to cover the same distance. You might also have issues with the brakes or the transmission of vehicles that have sustained excessive mileage. 


Rust usually indicates a poorly maintained truck. The vehicle may have structural issues that are more difficult to detect at first glance. You will eventually learn about underlying issues once you take the vehicle on the road for a test drive. 

Rust can damage the semi truck’s interior and make it dangerous to drive. It’s difficult to salvage a vehicle with a lot of rust. Even with modifications, you’re still in a truck with less effective parts.


Trucks have lights to help drivers see at night while also alerting others of their presence on the road. Some used semi trucks do not meet federal regulations, which can get you into serious trouble. 

Poor or inadequate lighting can also make your vehicle less safe, which can also indicate that there are underlying issues at play. Pickup trucks with insufficient lighting usually are that way as a direct result of poor maintenance.

Bring an Expert With You

There are always red flags to look for when assessing a semi truck. However, if this is your first time looking at used trucks or you don’t have much experience with trucks in general, you should consider bringing an expert with you. 

Experts know how to properly inspect a truck, and they can pinpoint warning signs that the truck you are viewing could end up being a bad investment. They know where to look and what to look for, which can prevent you from making a decision based on the vehicle’s exterior.

Saving Money With a Used Truck

Finding used vehicles for sale is one way to save a considerable amount of money. However, some of these used trucks can present significant hurdles, ultimately becoming money pits. Using these checkpoints to assess trucks before buying them can help you stay away from poorly maintained trucks, resulting in you purchasing vehicles that feel like new instead.


How Do I Know if a Used Semi Truck Is Good?

You should pay attention to how well the previous owner cared for the vehicle. No rust, up-to-date tires and high-quality seals are three factors that can indicate a well-maintained semi truck. 

What’s Too Many Miles for a Used Truck?

While trucks can accrue high mileage and remain viable, a used truck with over 500,000 miles may become more trouble than it’s worth.

Why Are Used Trucks So Expensive?

Used trucks are expensive because they can travel hundreds of thousands of miles. Some older models are also more durable, making them more valuable than some of the newer models.

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