Pages Navigation Menu

Buying A Used Semi–Tips For Avoiding Costly Mistakes

For many truckers, the first step to becoming their own boss is the purchase of their own truck. This experience is usually full of excitement and anticipation, as it represents a higher degree of flexibility, freedom, and financial possibility. However, with new trucks costing as much as $200,000 or more, the purchase also comes with significant fear and risk.

That’s why so many first-time buyers opt to look at used trucks for their first purchase. However, if you’ve never traded or appraised used trucks, you might not know what to look for in a great used truck. Fortunately, a few simple tips are all you need to dramatically increase your chances of finding the best value for your money.

Research The Truck’s Manufacturer

Before you make the trip to see a truck, you should look into the manufacturer’s history. The internet or a local dealer is a great place to start. You’re looking for two specific things:

  • The make and model’s longevity
  • The availability and price of replacement parts

Certain model years are almost legendary for their durability–while others are equally well-known for their lack of it. Also, no matter how well you maintain your truck, you’ll need repairs at some point. There’s a wide variance in the cost of replacement parts based on a truck’s make and model. These factors can represent hidden costs for you down the road.

Ask The Previous Owner Why They’re Selling

If you’re buying from a dealer, this probably won’t help you much. When purchasing from a private party, though, the first thing you should ask them is why they’re selling their truck. You should even ask dealers what they know about the history of the truck they’re selling and the previous owner.

This is because owners typically sell their truck for three reasons:

  • They’re doing well financially and want additional features
  • They’re quitting the trucking business
  • The truck is a money pit–or could become one soon

You’re looking for a seller in the first two categories. If you’re not completely convinced that the owner is selling their truck for reasons other than the truck, walk away. You can always find another opportunity–and you need to be completely comfortable with your purchase.

Look For Surface Rust

If you see massive rust spots on the side door of the truck’s cab, you’ll probably walk away from the sale. What isn’t as obvious is the beginning of a rust problem in more hidden–but no less important–areas of the truck. That’s why it’s important to inspect every inch of the truck yourself.

Be sure to look everywhere possible for rust or signs of rusted areas that have been sanded and painted. If you find evidence of significant rust issues, be wary. Even though surface rust is fixable, it’s often the precursor to scale rust or penetrating rust–two things you don’t want to take on willingly.

Bring Your Mechanic

No matter how familiar with trucks and mechanical systems you are, you’ll want to have a second opinion. Paying a mechanic to make the trip out with you to examine the truck is always a good idea. Their experience will be invaluable in determining a reasonable purchase price and the estimated cost of any needed repairs.

More importantly, they’ll be able to catch certain deal-breakers that you might miss as a layman. For example, a suspension in need of repair might be missed on a casual inspection–but could cost $6,000 or more. Having done the work themselves, your mechanic will help you avoid these budget-busting issues.

Buying a used semi is a lot like buying a used car–with more potential for financial mistakes. The good news is that keeping these tips in mind will go along way toward ensuring that you take your first step into independent contracting by making a solid financial decision.\

For more information about truck sales, visit

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *