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  • Writer's pictureBetter Truck Drivers for America

Looking to purchase a used truck?

Here are some helpful tips if you plan on purchasing a used Semi. Buying a used Class 8 truck or other commercial rig is a smart way for new owner operators to save money when they start their own trucking business. While newer models are great for mileage and compliance, they can be over budget. Your truck is the most important investment you'll make in your business, so it's wise to know these key point before you make purchase.

  • Choosing one of the more popular brands

  • Talk to your local repair shop

  • Ask owner operators

  • Buy with resale in mind

  • Read online reviews for dealerships or online sellers first

The basics

It may be tempting to throw in your money for the most powerful and best looking rig you can find, but weigh the cost of the individual components against one another first. With a used truck, there's a slim chance everything will be in excellent working condition, so be prepared to pick your battles. For example, a truck with worn-out brakes or balding tires is a far better investment than a rig with a run-down engine. The latter may look nice upfront, but engine repair is going to be way more expensive than brake pad replacement once the title is in your name.

The Cab

If you're doing long hauls, you'll want a truck with a sleeper cab. The money you'll save in hotels as well as the added comfort of a sleeping space will be well worth the extra expenditure. If you're doing primarily short hauls, consider a day cab. The potential savings of a day cab, combined with the improved gas mileage, is enough to give it merit.

The Engine

When scoping out the engine, use a critical eye, and remember the devil's in the details -- little things can often signify larger problems. First, consider the mileage, because the longevity of your engine depends upon this. If the odometer reads 800,000, know that you could still get 500,000 miles out of it. If it's tipping toward seven figures, the purchase may only be worthwhile if you're looking to use the rig for the short term.

During your test drive, step out of the cab and listen to the engine. Ask about anything you hear that seems out of the ordinary. Eye the exhaust for smoke after the engine has had time to heat up - blue or white smoke could mean that the engine is burning oil.

The Axles

A single axle configuration may be all that you need, especially if you're hauling lighter loads over shorter distances. But for long hauls and heavy loads, expect a smoother ride with tandem axle. A tandem axle configuration will ensure that you are meeting safety standards as well as saving your back from strain.

The Transmission

Most operators learned to drive on a truck with a manual transmission. A manual transmission is more convenient for the driver, but there are automatic transmission semi trucks available. If you're in the small category of people who have learned on an automatic, you will want to stick with that kind of transmission.

Inspecting the truck that has your eye

  • The truck history

  • Most recent DOT inspection

  • Accident records

  • Maintenance records

  • Warranties

Best of luck in your journey and make sure to check out our other blogs on how to be safe on the road during the winter months!

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