Looking to buy a new or used commercial truck? There are many factors to consider. With so much money at stake, not to mention your trucking business’ livelihood, you want to do your homework and find the best match for your commercial truck driving plans.
Here are the top factors to consider when purchasing a commercial truck.
What will you be using it for?
Will you be using it for local deliveries or long-distance hauls? Before you do anything else, determine the type of trucking business you plan to operate. You want to be sure the commercial truck you select is suited to the type of work you’ll be doing as an independent truck driver.
Do you want a new or used truck?
You’ll also need to decide whether you want to buy a new or used commercial truck. New commercial trucks can cost much more than used ones, but they are often in top condition and have no or low miles. Since buying an expensive new rig may be unrealistic for some buyers, going with a pre-owned commercial truck may be the best option.
Buying a used truck
If you decide to buy a used truck, here is a checklist of questions to consider:
- Has it been maintained properly? How often was the oil changed? Ask for copies of the maintenance records and find out the engine history.
- Are the engine and drivetrain specs suitable for your needs? Proper specs are too important to ignore. Don’t let the prospect of a “great deal” impair your better judgment. Buying an underpowered truck for hauling heavy loads will be an expensive mistake.
- Does it have 700,000 miles or more?
- Who maintained the truck mechanically?
- What parts are due for replacement in the near future?
- Do the tires have reasonable tire tread depth left in them?
- What’s the shape of the suspension, wiring, drivetrain, and transmission?
- What problems did this type of engine have in the past?
Unless you know the original owner personally and the maintenance history of the truck, buying from a reputable used semi-truck dealer is the smart move.
Another consideration is whether you want to lease a commercial truck. Look at your financial situation and your short and long-range truck driving plans, and see if a short-term loan makes more sense. With a lease, you might have the option of getting into a newer and better truck right away or trading in the leased truck for a newer one in a few years.
As an owner-operator, buying a truck is likely one of the biggest investments you’ll make for your business. Spend some time researching and talking to more experienced owner-operators who can give you sound advice. You need to do some deep investigating on each big rig you look at so you can make a decision that will serve your business profitably over the long haul.
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