As a truck driver, there may come a time in your career where you want to move away from being an employee of a transportation company and venture into the world of working for yourself as a owner operator. While being an owner operator who contracts out your services for different transportation routes can be lucrative, being cautious when you're starting out is a good idea.
For most new owner operators, purchasing a used semi tractor trailer is the best way to go. But buying the right used semi truck can make a huge difference in whether you can make a lot of money or get buried in debt due to multiple expensive repairs or being out of service due to mechanical problems. Use the following tips to ensure that you buy the best used semi truck possible:
Check the Oil
Checking the oil is a good way to get an idea of how the engine has been maintained. If the oil is burned, old, or turning to sludge, that may be a sign that the semi truck has not been well-maintained and may not be a good value if you will have to deal with future repairs. In addition to checking the oil yourself, it is a good idea to request documentation of oil changes and transmission fluid changes.
Request All Service Records
A semi truck can require a lot of maintenance to keep it in good repair, and a private owner or dealer who has taken care of the truck should have no problem producing service records for the past several years. Seeing how well a truck is maintained beyond regular oil changes and transmission services can give you a better idea of whether the truck will run well for several years or start breaking down shortly after money is exchanged. When reviewing service records, don't forget to make sure that the VIN number on the records matches the VIN number you are interested in buying.
Search for Structural Rust
Surface rust on a used semi truck can often be remedied by replacing a part, but structural rust may be a sign that the big rig does not have a lot of life left in it. Make sure you or a mechanic carefully examine the frame of the vehicle to see if rust is present.
Make Sure You Can Find Replacement Parts
Before buying a used commercial truck, it is in your best interest to make sure that you can easily find replacement parts for the year/make/model of truck that you plan to purchase. Difficulty finding parts may signal a problem, and you may end up spending a lot more money in the long run if the truck needs repair.