Recently we’ve seen the values of used truck decrease to
record lows, and at the same time, we are seeing large increases in new truck
prices due to EPA regulations. This is creating an opportunity to look at
buying used trucks as a sensible alternative to buying new. Many trucking
companies may still don’t believe that buying a used truck is a viable
alternative to buying new.
Buying a new truck gives you a warranty usually 1 year for
the chassis and 3-5 years for the engine and major components. Buying a new
truck also gives you new brakes, drums, tires, and all wearable components are
brand new allowing you to drive the truck for at least a year before performing
any maintenance besides oil changes, and grease. Your new truck will also give
you 4-6 years of low cost ownership as most the major components will not need
When reviewing the list above for reasons to buy a new
truck, it’s hard to see a good reason to buy a used truck. Here’s the main
reason – $$$, cash. While a tandem axle sleeper highway truck new will cost
from $110,000 to $150,000 (depending on options), a 4-5 year old similar speced
unit will cost 1/3 the price ($38,000 to $50,000). With the money you save in
buying used, you can use to offset the costs of additional repairs and
maintenance that a used truck will demand.
7 Tips on buying a Used Truck
1. Are maintenance records available – by reviewing maintenance
records you may be able to find out if the vehicle has had reoccurring
problems that may be from a lack of maintenance. Also were the parts used in
repairing the truck OEM parts, or were they counterfeit parts? While
counterfeit parts may look like OEM parts, they are not, and you risk
premature failure of the counterfeit part, causing you unnecessary downtime.
By researching the maintenance records you can also spot any mileage
discrepancies. You don’t want to find out that 300,000 mile truck is actually
a 600,000 mile truck after you’ve bought it. Also don’t get discouraged if
the truck has had minor wreck damage, or breakdowns. These things are to be
expected. I would worry more if someone told me in 300,000 miles they only
changed the oil on the truck, and it never broke down.
2. Is a warranty available - Nothing could be worse than buying a
truck and having a major breakdown early in ownership. Many dealers offer
used truck warranties that will cover components for 1-2 years. While you may
have to pay out of pocket for minor repairs, a major repair like a
transmission or engine overhaul may be covered under the used truck warranty
saving you $.
3. What is the condition of the Tires/Brakes/Drums – Tires, Brakes,
and Drums are all maintenance items that will need replaced from time to
time. By knowing the condition of these items you will know how long you will
be able to drive the truck before incurring your first major maintenance
bill. A truck with deep rubber and new/newer brakes, drums will save you $ as
you will not have to replace these items until later.
4. Inspection/Condition of the truck – Find out will the truck pass a
DOT Inspection on its first trip with you? Have the dealer place an updated
DOT inspection sticker in the truck.
5. Financing – While you can expect to pay higher interest rates, and
have a shorter term for used trucks, watch the fine print. Don’t ever pay
money up front with an application. The only time you should hand money over
is if you will be receiving the truck minutes later. In addition make sure
the repayment schedule is known upfront (# of payments, principal/interest for
each payment, and any final payment cost), are there balloon payments, how is
the interest amortized? Make sure you do your homework upfront to prevent
paying forever on a truck you’ll never own.
6. Insurance – Many buyers of used trucks are owner-operators, or
small fleets that often are hired by larger fleets. Does your fleet offer and
insurance program for you? While the fleets insurance policy may be good you
need to find out if you can do better on your own. Shop your insurance
policy, make sure you have bobtail coverage (coverage if you’re not hauling a
load). What are your deductibles? Will they rent you a truck if yours has
been wrecked? Can you afford your deductible? Do you need GAP insurance?
These are just some of the questions you need to ask a licensed insurance
professional to ensure you are not setting yourself up for failure.
7. Common Sense – If a truck looks too good to be true for the price,
maybe it is. If nobody else can get you financed, and someone does get you
financed at a great rate, maybe something isn’t ok.
While this list is not everything you need to check on a
buying a used truck, hopefully it helps you out with your next purchase. Is
there anything you always look for before buying a used truck? I’d love to hear
To check out Wheeling Truck Center’s Used Truck Inventory check us out online, or call us 304-232-1440