Used Commercial Truck Buying Guide – Top 10 Tips

truck buying guideWhen it comes to buying a used commercial truck, truck and trailer or any heavy duty truck you need to be on your game to make sure you score a great deal, rather than ending up with a lemon.

There is a huge market for used commercial trucks, and you can start your search online for your fleet’s next workhorse, researching what’s available and average used truck prices. Purchasing a used commercial truck can be an excellent way to expand your fleet or strike out on your own as a contractor.

Here are ten tips when buying a commercial truck that could save you money, not just on the sticker price but on costly downtime and expensive repairs.

1 – Check the oil

We’re not just talking about oil levels but it’s about oil condition, which can tell you a lot about the health of the truck. In fact, a truck that has been well maintained will have had its oil (both engine and transmission) regularly analyzed for signs of contamination, metal traces or antifreeze. If it has, ask to see historical records.

2 – Check for rust

Sounds obvious enough but it’s not one to be underestimated as it can render your investment completely worthless. Surface rust can usually be fixed but structural rust, for example around the frame, may spell inevitable doom for the truck.

3 – Review the service records

Service records will tell you several things about the truck that are worth noting. Firstly make sure the records are legitimate, with the VIN matching the vehicle. Check the history of repair work to make sure there are no recurring patterns of breakdowns that could signal an expensive problem. And be extra cautious of trucks with no service record at all – there’s every chance you’re not getting the full story.

4 – Inspect the suspension

Make sure the suspension is in good working order and parts are easily sourced. Due to the critical nature of suspension, as well as their custom design, repairs can be costly. Preferably the manufacturer of the suspension has a reputation for engineering quality systems.

5 – Verify major parts

If you’re not overly familiar with the inner workings of a truck, this point may involve bringing a trained truck mechanic to help you inspect the vehicle. You need to be sure you can verify the condition of the major parts in the truck, whether it’s the brakes, transmission, steering, hydraulic lines or the AC. If you can’t accurately determine its condition then you might need to budget for a replacement.

6 – Source at least 2 part suppliers

The last thing you want is a great looking truck sitting idle because you can’t get a small, but vital, part for it, which is sometimes the case with obscure or limited-run truck brands. Make sure you can easily get parts for the truck from at least two separate suppliers to avoid being left high and dry.

7 – Can you get finance for it?

Check this before you make an offer on the truck as some finance companies can be quite choosy about which trucks they will finance, and most won’t unless it’s successfully passed a DOT inspection.

8 – Will they insure it?

Similar to finance make sure of this before you sign anything, and not just that you can get insurance but that it will be at a cost that still makes the truck a viable, and profitable, business opportunity.

9 – Know their reasons for selling

You’re entitled to know! Don’t let them avoid the question, and ask it in a way that doesn’t give them time or opportunity to change the subject or rehearse a script. Look for body language or other reactions that might give away unspoken problems. Make sure you are satisfied with the answer.

10 – Use a broker

If you’re spending a lot of money then it may well be worth enlisting the services of a professional truck dealer. They can sort the good from the bad, and source an excellent deal on a used truck, even after they’ve added their commission.

Take your time buying a used commercial truck, there can be many pitfalls. By proceeding cautiously, and getting help when you need it, you can find a used commercial truck that will give you many years of faithful and profitable service.

For truck buyers building a fleet, something else that can be worth the investment is reputable fleet management software. In fact, many commercial operators using Telogis Fleet have experienced a positive ROI within 120 days, due to the savings made in optimized route planning and fuel savings.

  • Hi,

    I really liked your tips, all tips are so creative.

    Thanks for the help.

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  • Ihqadri

    I amgoing to buy one with in month or two, you think used truck prices are going to go down in next month or so

  • Matthew Williams

    really needed a new engine for my car but all the quotes I was getting were way
    out of my budget. I looked one evening when I drove past Joliet U-Pull-It’s
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  • Seamus Lowe

    It’s definitely a good idea to know why they are selling the truck. I’ve known a few people who have bought vehicles, commercial trucks and otherwise, and didn’t ask why it was being sold. It’s just smart to know if there is something wrong or needs to be fixed.
    -Seamus |

  • Very useful information!