Drivers and trucking companies alike purchase used trucks to save money. Buying an older semi-truck can save you tens of thousands of dollars, however, some used trucks can become more trouble than they’re worth in savings. Frequent repairs and visits from the mechanic can add up and turn your cost-saving strategy into a nightmare. Knowing what to look for in a pickup truck can help you avoid the headaches of a worn-down vehicle.
Is It Worth Buying a Used Truck?
Buying a used truck can save you a lot of money, while new semi trucks can go for $150,000, you can find many used trucks below $100,000. The savings give you more flexibility to address repairs and other issues that may arise from use. Most people look at new trucks to save money, but some of the older models are sturdier than the newer models. Properly maintained old trucks can feel and perform like new vehicles.
You won’t know how the previous driver treated the truck, 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. New vehicles are less prone to breakdowns since they have fewer miles, but tying more of your money up in a new vehicle presents more risk. An old semi truck’s affordability comes into play even more if you want to buy a fleet. Trucking companies willing to buy older models can purchase 3-5 used trucks for the same price as a single new truck.
7 Top Check Points When Buying a Used Semi Truck
It’s important not to rush into buying a semi-truck. Quickly purchasing a used vehicle without comparing options or doing your research can result in a bad investment. These checkpoints will help you determine if a used semi truck is optimal for your company or is setting you up for disappointment later down the road.
Vehicle papers tell you a lot about a semi-truck and are easy to access. You can find public records of a semi-truck by knowing its VIN. You will get a list of previous owners, accidents, maintenance history, and 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 been in an accident, you can walk away from that semi truck or use the vehicle’s history as leverage to negotiate a lower price.
Doors and Seals
Inadequate doors and seals can silently increase trucking costs. Inefficiencies will increase air resistance on the vehicle and require more gas power to cover the same distance. You will burn through more gallons without covering any additional ground. Some issues can disrupt the temperature in your load, which can ruin food, pharmaceuticals, and other temperature-sensitive freight.
Tire condition may not seem important since you can replace bad tires with new ones. Truck drivers have a quick fix for bad tires, but an old semi truck’s tire condition can tip you off on the vehicle’s maintenance. If the semi-truck owner didn’t bother to replace worn-out tires, where else could they have cut corners in maintenance? You and the current owner may not fully know the semi truck’s underlying problems. A new set of tires doesn’t guarantee a reliable truck, but they indicate the owner likely maintained the truck effectively. It would be a big plus if all of the tires got replaced at the same time. Replacing all of the tires at once increases traction and improves handling. 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 200,000-500,000 miles. Anything beyond 500,000 miles gets more affordable but also has a higher risk. Those miles can weaken the engine and require it to burn more oil to cover the same distance. You may also have issues with the brakes or transmission for vehicles with 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 if you purchase the vehicle and take it on the road. 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.
A truck’s lights help drivers see at night and alert others of their presence. Some used semi trucks do not meet federal regulations and can get you in trouble. Bad lights also make your vehicle less safe and can indicate underlying issues. Pickup trucks with bad lights usually get that way due to poor maintenance.
Bring Along an Expert
We have shared some 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, you should bring along an expert. Experts know how to properly inspect a truck and warning signs of a bad investment. They know where to look in the vehicle instead of making a decision based on the vehicle’s exterior.
Saving Money With a Used Truck
Finding used vehicles for sale can help you save considerable money. However, some of these used trucks can present significant hurdles and become money pits. Using these checkpoints to assess each truck will help you stay away from poorly maintained trucks and purchase vehicles that feel like new.
You should pay attention to how well the previous owner presents the vehicle. No rust, up-to-date tires, and quality seals indicate a well-maintained semi 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.
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.