Shopping for a used semi truck can be a daunting prospect if you have never made this type of purchase before. While you don't want to pay retail and purchase a new vehicle, you also don't want to get stuck with a lemon that will need repair after repair and cost you a fortune. To avoid this unfortunate fate, pre-plan for your semi truck purchase by following these tips:
Tip: Research Before You Do Any Shopping
Thanks to the ease of internet research, there really isn't any excuse for accidentally buying a truck model that has become well-known for having mechanical problems. Before you head out to shop for a truck, think about the truck models you prefer and search for each one online by adding search terms such as "common mechanical problems", "known engine problems", and "known transmission problems" to their names.
While all trucks will eventually have some mechanical issue or another as they age, the results of your research will show you the trends and will show you which trucks are more likely to avoid expensive repairs or frequent downtime.
Tip: Only Buy a Truck Made by a Large Manufacturer
When it comes to buying a semi truck, you should stick to those made by large manufacturers rather than those who make niche trucks. For example, a truck made by Frightliner or Volvo will have parts more readily available and more mechanics who are familiar with working on them than if you choose a truck made by Brockway or Republic. This is important, because repairs result in expensive downtime and the last thing you want is to be stuck in the middle of nowhere for a long time waiting for a custom part.
Tip: Understand It's Not All About the Mileage
Finally, while low mileage is often seen as the gold standard for purchasing a used work truck, there are other aspects that are just as important, and in a few cases even more so, including:
lack of body damage or rust
complete mechanical history records
complete oil and other fluid change records
If a truck doesn't have any records of its maintenance or mechanical history, then this is a huge red flag that may indicate that the truck's maintenance has been neglected. Neglected trucks often develop major mechanical problems as they age and should be avoided at all costs if you are trying to avoid purchasing a lemon.