When you're just starting out as an independent truck driver, you want to save as much money as possible. Getting a used truck is a good way to keep costs low while still obtaining a reliable and durable vehicle that fits your needs. But just like purchasing a regular vehicle, you must take care when shopping for a used freightliner truck to avoid buying a lemon. Here are a few tips to help you with the process.
Have It Inspected Before Buying
One of the best things you can do is have the truck inspected by a mechanic, especially if you have no experience with big rigs or that particular brand of truck. The mechanic can detail all the issues with the truck, which can help you in a couple of ways.
First, knowing the truck has problems and what they are will better prepare you for ownership. You'll know upfront how much money you need to get the vehicle in safe working condition for immediate use and what can wait until you get a few jobs under your belt, which will make managing your money easier.
Second, it can provide leverage when negotiating the truck's price. If you know the engine needs to be overhauled, you can use that information to get the dealer to either give you a discount or agree to have its onsite mechanic make some repairs.
It's important to note that semi trucks must undergo and pass a DOT inspection to ensure the rig is roadworthy. You may think this inspection will catch any problems with the rig, but that's not true. A DOT inspection is typically not as thorough as one you would get from a mechanic, and the inspector will only note something if it's bad enough to affect the vehicle's roadworthiness.
Insist on taking the truck to a third party mechanic and preferably someone you know and trust.
Get the Vehicle's History Report
The second thing you want to do is get the truck's vehicle history report. Since semi trucks are different class of vehicle than regular cars and trucks, they have their own verification sites, such as Truckchex and RigDig. However, they serve the same purpose as CarFax and similar non-commercial vehicle history report companies.
In addition to letting you know what maintenance has been done on the vehicle and whether it was in an accident, a vehicle history report can also prevent you from being scammed. For instance, VIN cloning is an issue in the industry. This is where thieves take the vehicle identification number from a junked truck, reuse it on a stolen rig, and then sell it to dealers for quick cash. Since criminals can't actually change the status of a junked vehicle in the DMV database, a vehicle history report will tell you right away the VIN is invalid, which will help you avoid buying a stolen vehicle.
These reports do cost money to run, so be sure to build that into your budget.
Look at the Little Things
Lastly, be sure to look at the little things. Remember, you'll be driving this vehicle for years, so you need to make sure it meets your needs. While the big things like engine size and number of axles is important, it's the little things that may make or break your experience.
For instance, be sure to check where the gas tanks are positioned and that there is enough clearance for the pump. Sit in the cab, adjust the seat, and test the interior to ensure the controls are within comfortable reach. Additionally, if you plan on making any changes or upgrade, make sure the truck can support them.
For more information about buying a semi truck or to get help finding one that's right for you, contact a dealer like Arrow Truck Sales.
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