How to Carefully Check Used Semis Before Buying

used truck

If you want to expand your fleet of trucks, buying a used truck is often the best way to do so without completely emptying your wallet. It’s true that new trucks are a better choice if you’re concerned about mileage, but when you’re just starting out, said trucks just aren’t affordable. However, you can’t run a trucking business of any sort without at least one truck, and whether you’re getting your first truck or your fifth, a used one is still a viable option. 

When searching for used semi trucks, finding one that fits your budget isn’t the only consideration. There are certain things you need to remember and certain points for you to check to ensure that your purchase is a good one and won’t leave you with a loss a month or two down the line. After all, it’s bad for profits if you keep having to bring the truck to a garage for repair. So here’s how to thoroughly check a used truck before you buy it. 

Examine the Truck’s History

Ask the owner or used truck dealer how the truck was acquired and what it was used for, and the reason for sale (for independent owners). For instance, if a semi-truck was used for cross-country travel but you’re planning to use it to haul something over short distances, it should still be okay. However, the reverse might not be true, so you’ll be taking a risk if you still buy it. 

Ask for the Most Recent DOT Inspection

The person you’re dealing with should be able to provide the relevant papers so you can then look them over and spot any hidden issues. If these don’t hamper the truck’s performance in any major way and it would still be practical to purchase that truck, you can use these issues as a point of negotiation. 

Look for Accident and Maintenance Records

Like the DOT papers, these records will clue you in to potential problems in the future as well as parts that may need replacing. Also, they could provide you with yet another point of negotiation once you get to that stage.

Check the Truck’s Performance

After asking how old the truck is, check the odometer and see if the mileage makes sense, and see how it handles on different terrain, especially the types you expect to use it on. You’ll also want to see if there’s any corrosion on the brake lines and other hoses, as well as loss of brake fluid or any kind of leak. Inspect the wiring and the oil, not to mention the lights. 

Essentially, you want to be sure that the truck is still able to function decently despite being a certain age. Otherwise, it may be closer to the end of its usable life, as it were, and you’ll be better off looking at a different used truck. 

No matter what make and model of used semi you get, it helps to check it thoroughly using the above tips. But don’t forget to trust your gut, too. Even if the truck checks all the boxes during the inspection, if there’s something that doesn’t sit right with you, don’t be afraid to shop around a little more. It’s your money, so you have the final say in what truck you buy.
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