Buying used can be a great way to save money on a big rig. However, it can also be a huge and burdensome blunder -- if you buy the right truck! It's important to do your research and take your time when shopping for the perfect used big rig for your business. Here are some tips to ensure you settle on the right truck rather than on a lemon.
Look for one-owner trucks.
If you can find a single-owner truck being sold by its first owner, you've won the proverbial lottery in the world of used big rig purchasing. When the truck has only had one owner, that person is aware of everything that has gone on with the truck since it was first off the lot. They can tell you whether it has had its oil changed on time, when the brakes were last maintained, and what problems popped up after it reached the 50,000 mile mark. If you find a truck that has several owners, some of that information will have been lost along the way and you'll be forced to do a lot more guesswork.
Steer clear of bargain-basement priced trucks.
When you find a truck that you're interested listed for sale, do a little research to see what similar trucks are selling for. If the truck you're interested in is selling for thousands less than what others are charging, your best choice is usually to walk away and look for a different truck. Sellers who price their trucks far below the market value usually just want to get rid of them ASAP. There may be a serious problem with the truck that's no obvious immediately, but that could rear its ugly head once you're 100 miles down the highway with the title in your name. It's best to stick to trucks that seem to be properly priced in relation to the competition.
Check out the specs.
Just because a truck is priced properly and appears to be in good shape does not mean it's the right truck for you. The current owner could have been using the truck to haul something completely different from what you'll be hauling, so it's important to check out the specs and make sure the truck is capable of doing what you need it to do.
Specking a truck is a lot harder than you might assume. This is not a job to try and tackle as an amateur. Find a consultant mechanic who has been working with big rigs for many years, and have them look over the rig you are interested in buying. Tell them what you'll be hauling, whether your freight will be pallet-loaded or floor-loaded, and where you'll be driving -- and they'll tell you which used freightliner trucks are capable of this. Under-specking a truck can cause engine burnout and premature breakdowns, so never buy a truck that's even slightly below the capacity you plan on towing.
Ask for physical copies of the records.
Do not just take the owner's word for it, even if they seem trustworthy. Ask to see physical documentation of any maintenance the truck has had done. If oil samples from the engine and transmission have been taken and analyzed, ask for copies of the reports. If you are not overly familiar with big rig maintenance yourself, hire a mechanic to look over the maintenance records and tell you if anything is lacking. A truck that has not been properly maintained may need to be re-built much sooner.
Follow the advice above, and you should end up with a used big rig that serves you well for many years to come.