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5 Characteristics a Good Used Commercial Truck Should Have

Used commercial truck

How do you find that diamond in the rough? How do you find a quality used commercial truck?

While there are plenty of benefits to leasing a used truck, going that route can also open a ton of questions. But here’s the question that matters most, and the one that should be at the forefront of your mind: What characteristics will a good used truck have? To give you peace of mind when going used, we’ve come up with a checklist you should go through as you’re looking to grow or maintain a quality fleet.

Going Beyond Craigslist

If you’re old-fashioned, perhaps your used truck search begins and ends with asking your friends and peers in the commercial vehicle business. Or perhaps you’re a bit tech-savvy and have tried Craigslist in the past.

These days, finding the best fit is about more than just asking your friends or browsing Craigslist. Sites like eBay and truckpaper.com are also great sources for used trucks.

Looking for something with a little more back-and-forth? Try some Facebook groups. Some of our favorites include Heavy Wreckers for Sale, Heavy Equipment for Sale, and Dump Trucks for Sale. In addition, groups like The Elite Heavy Duty and Septic Tank Pumper Trucks provide a great place to share industry knowledge and extend your network.

Mileage: More Than Just a Number

Seeing an old truck for sale with low mileage may prompt you to jump for joy, but it should also raise a red flag. There are a variety of reasons a used commercial truck may have a small number of miles driven, and not all of them are good. Was the truck:

  • … driven primarily in the city?
  • … only used certain times of the year?
  • … in the shop a lot? If so, is there plenty of documentation?

Don’t forget that in addition to miles driven, you should always investigate a prospective vehicle’s total engine hours. This number tells you whether the truck has sat idling a lot, as many tractor-trailers tend to do. Remember, one hour of idle time is equal to approximately 25 miles of driving.

Medium- or Heavy-Duty Engine?

Your engine acts as the heart of your truck. Does your potential buy use a medium-duty or heavy-duty engine?

Did the engine undergo surgery for a rebuild? Is there paperwork documenting exactly what went down? You’ll want to know before you open your wallet.

We estimate engine rebuilds are recommended at these points in a commercial vehicle’s life:

  • Heavy-duty truck: 750,000 miles
  • Medium-build truck: 350,000 miles

Where and How Was It Used?

Was your potential truck driven mainly in the city or on the highway? In North Dakota or Miami?

Commercial truck makers design them with highway use in mind. Start-and-stop traffic downtown takes its toll on a lumbering giant. And don’t forget about climate: A truck will accumulate far more rust living in a cold-weather environment.

As for the “how,” pictures are worth a thousand words. How does the interior look? Does it look like new or is it stained, torn, and otherwise beat up? An owner who takes pride in how his truck looks  is more likely to maintain its guts and functionality as well.

Truck Timeline

How long has the truck been for sale? If it’s been on the market for a while, the owner might be:

  • Having trouble selling the truck because it’s in bad shape
  • Willing to come down on the price, giving you a chance at a nicer truck than you expected

You’ve probably already been considering potential trucks’ age, and for good reason. Hopefully you’re weighing it against the plans you have for the vehicle. It might not be worth buying a 20-year-old truck if you’re going to drive it so much that its useful life ends after a year.

Now here’s an example of something you may not be paying attention to when assessing model year. In 2007, the rollout of stricter emissions laws changed the way commercial trucks deal with pollutants. It is often the case that an older “pre-emissions” truck will have better reliability than a “post-emissions” truck that was introduced in 2008.  In fact Intek Leasing tries to steer clear of financing certain makes from 2008-2013 that were known to be problematic.. So it’s always wise to research the make and model to avoid roadblocks that will force you to start your search over again.

Locate the Best Truck for Your Situation

Leasing the right used truck takes patience. Your fleet needs and financial situation may differ from the next guy’s, so each case is unique. Click here for more about the questions you should be asking before choosing a used commercial truck.

used commercial truck