Buying a used semi-truck is a huge decision. New semis easily reach into the six-figure price range, but a used truck can save you as much as half of that price or even more. This is a massive cost saving, but purchasing a used semi is not a decision that can be made lightly. As an owner-operator, your truck is the most important investment you will make into your business, so it is vitally important to conduct as much research as possible and approach the process seriously. Keep these tips in mind when beginning your journey and, with any luck, you will purchase a truck that will form the backbone of your business for years to come.
Understand Your Requirements
The most important thing you can do is have a clear understanding of your requirements. Will this truck operate primarily locally or is this rig going to be making cross-country trips? What will you be hauling? Do not compromise on any vital requirements when it comes to your truck's engine or driveline, since these are the components that are ultimately responsible for getting you where you need to go on time with minimal downtime.
Establish and Research Your Short List
Once you know your requirements, you should be able to establish a short list of viable used trucks either in your local area or in a wider search radius. Since this is such a major business decision, you should not be shy about potentially traveling a long distance for a good deal. Before going anywhere, however, do as much research into the details of the trucks on your list as possible. Use every resource available to you! This means not only researching technical specifications but talking to other owner-operators as well.
Obtain Maintenance Records and Vehicle History
Maintenance records are far, far more important for used semi-truck purchases than they are for personal vehicles. You need to be sure that the truck you are purchasing was well maintained by the previous owner. An in-chassis engine overhaul can cost upwards of $15,000, so purchasing a used truck with a tired engine can quickly eat into your cost savings. Remember that most truck engines will require a major engine overhaul between 700,000 and 1,000,000 miles, so if your short list includes trucks within this range you should budget for this expense in your future.
In addition to maintenance history, you should attempt to determine as much of the vehicle's overall history as possible. Was this truck owned by a fleet or an owner-operator? Are you the second owner of the vehicle? Was the truck's previous usage similar to your anticipated usage? These questions will be relatively easy to answer if you are purchasing from a fleet or reputable dealer, but they are worth asking no matter where your used truck is being sourced from. Visit a site like http://www.arrowtruck.com/ for more assistance.