Buying a used truck can be a decision that companies take for a number of reasons. Whether they are looking for a low cost way to begin their fleet operations, looking to extend the number of vehicles but cannot afford new units, or simply find that a specific make and model fits their needs far better than any other model can.
There are 10 things to think about that we at Aquila Truck Centres think are common to all purchasers of used trucks. We laid out this guide to give you some insight into some of the questions that you should be asking yourself when purchasing a new truck, as well as some tips that may lead to you getting a great deal on a used truck.
1.What’s Your Budget?
The first step to think about is to consider what the budget is for your used truck purchase. Most companies will have already allotted a certain cost to the acquisition of a vehicle and will look to bring in a vehicle at that cost or under.
There is often a temptation for companies to look to spend less if possible on used trucks. It’s fully understandable – everyone wants the best price! What these companies don’t think about, however, is the ongoing monthly cost.
For example, Truck A is available for £10,000 and Truck B, which is a little older, is available for £7,500. For both trucks, it’s estimated the company will run them for 36 months. The cost of running truck A is estimated to be £200 a month, giving a grand total lifetime cost of £17,250. Truck B which is older, has poorer fuel efficiency and for which parts are more expensive due to scarcity has a monthly running cost of £275, leading to a lifetime cost of £17,400. Despite the smaller initial outlay, the lifetime cost of any used truck should be considered.
When budgeting for a purchase, you must consider the long term costs applicable. We’ll cover ways in which not having the largest budget for an initial overlay could be overcome later in this guide.
The cheapest used truck isn’t always going to be the best option for your business – especially if it’s being sold by a private individual/other company who can’t provide some of the other things that we discuss on this list. As the old adage goes – “buy cheap, buy twice!”
Did You Know? – Many used truck dealers will list prices as price on application – or POA. This isn’t so they can fleece you – rather they are looking for people who are serious about buying the truck. You might have to make a phone call or write an e-mail, but this gives you a great way of finding out more about the vehicle.
2.Check The Basics
It might sound overly simple, but you need to ensure that you know the basics of the used truck that you are looking to purchase. This can cover technical specifications of the truck, such as the Gross Weight of the Vehicle, the payload that the truck is able to carry, the axel configuration of the truck. If you are looking for features such as a tail-lift, what weight is the one on this vehicle capable of supporting?
It can also cover areas which may give you further clues about the general wear and tear of the truck, for example the tyre condition, the mileage that the truck has already travelled and the general condition of the interior. If there’s anything that looks slightly out of the ordinary or perhaps isn’t in the shape it should be, this could be indicative of a truck that hasn’t been cared for and could be hiding much deeper issues.
One basic you always need to check is when the next MOT is due on the truck. It could be that a used truck is being sold just before an upcoming MOT because the current owner isn’t confident of it passing. This could result in you picking up a truck that requires a hefty repair bill to make it roadworthy and result in a massive overspend on your acquisition.
Also check what the truck is supplied with – we’ve heard examples of curtainsiders being sold to customers who then go to pick up the truck and find it devoid of curtains. Remember that there are no stupid questions when looking to buy a used truck – don’t be afraid to ask the questions you need the answers to.
3.What Extras Do You Require?
Different industries will require slightly different things from a used truck. An example may be that a haulage firm that makes deliveries to clients’ premises may require trucks to be fitted with a reverse camera to ensure safe operation in these types of environments. If you are looking for a truck to use as part of a highway maintenance fleet, it might be a requirement of working on site that your vehicles have Chapter 8 compliant safety markings and lights fitted to them.
Each individual purchaser will have unique requirements for a truck to have in order to meet their specific needs. Again, this requires you to make sure that you ask plenty of questions of the vendor to find out what extras are already fitted.
There also needs to be a thought put to the cost of fitting these extras to a used truck if they aren’t already present. The extras might narrow the range of suitable used trucks for you to be able to purchase, but if it prevents unneeded expense and down time in the future, this can be for the best.
4.What Are the Emissions Like?
It’s no secret that the emissions produced by trucks are coming under more and more scrutiny as the industry looks to become more environmentally friendly. The adoption of the London Ultra Low Emission Zone has seen a huge cost for the owners of trucks that are not at Euro 6 standards operating within London. Trucks which don’t meet the ULEZ standards have to pay a £100 daily charge to enter the zone – meaning it can be a costly mistake to not check the emissions of a truck prior to purchase!
A number of other cities looking to adopt similar low emission zones in the coming years. The expense of tolls to enter these cities in trucks will need to be a consideration when purchasing a used trucks if your operations see you enter cities on a regular basis.
It can be questionable whether it is worth purchasing an older used truck due to these emission standards that will undoubtedly be replicated in other cities. We have found in discussions with current customers, that in certain circumstances, that the emission limits are unlikely to affect them too badly. This tends to be customers who tend to do more haulage of cargo to and from ports, as well as those who operate in more rural areas. For these types of customers they are unlikely to be affected by future emission changes and can continue to use trucks that wouldn’t be suitable for more urban usage.
If you are looking at a truck you can check if it’s emissions are going to trigger the daily charge by entering the vehicles license plate details onto the ULEZ website. Again, bear this in mind as an additional cost to be added on to the cost of running the truck.
- Ask About Warranty
One of the biggest fears people have when purchasing a new truck is that of something going wrong with their acquisition. This can lead to the buyer being liable to repair bills that can create huge problems in terms of the budgeting that has been carried out for the purchase of the truck.
Many trucks under the age of three years will still be covered by the original manufacturer’s guarantee, although there may be mileage restrictions which are applied to these trucks.
Many well established used truck dealers will tend to offer a warranty for trucks purchased from them in order to assure customers that they won’t be liable for any repairs stemming from recent purchases. This is something that you should definitely discuss with the vendor when making initial enquiries about the truck.
One of the key points that should be taken from this point is that used trucks being sold by owner-operators through websites such as eBay and Auto Trader are unlikely to come with warranties. This means that you will be taking a huge risk that if something goes wrong with the truck, you will be entirely liable for any costs associated for getting your truck back to working condition.
Trucks with warranties may be a little more expensive when compared to those without, but this is a small price to pay for peace of mind that you will be far less liable if anything goes wrong in the near future with your truck.
- Manufacturer Approved?
Many manufacturers now look to offer a quality control system on the used trucks entering the market which have been produced by them. A great example of this is the MAN TopUsed programme which checks and certifies used trucks which become available.
By looking for manufacturer approved used trucks you can be assured of a high quality used vehicle. This is because the truck will have been inspected by manufacturer trained technicians and any repairs will have been carried out to exacting standards.
In many ways, buying a manufacturer approved truck is as close to buying a new truck as you can possibly get without it rolling off the production line. These again may be a little more costly than non-manufacturer approved used trucks, but will give you far more peace of mind that your new acquisition will function exactly how you envisage.
- Think About Servicing
When you have purchased a used vehicle you need to think about how the trucks servicing and safety inspection schedule could impact on your vehicles productivity. This will of course depend on the mileage and usage of your used truck, but purchasing a used truck will require some thought on how servicing will impact on your business.
An example may be that a used truck has been identified with having defects with it’s suspension going back a number of years – this may require more frequent inspections and servicing. This is vital to know beforehand so it can be scheduled in. A failure to do so may result in you failing to maintain compliance in ensuring the roadworthiness of your vehicle.
There is also the question as to if you buy a used truck if your current service providers can offer a satisfactory service for the vehicle you have purchased. For example, if the vehicle you have purchased is different from the standard manufacturer you work with, you need to know that they can inspect these vehicles. If they are unable to provide a satisfactory service, you could risk your vehicle becoming uncompliant, or it could result in you having to travel further afield to find a service provider who can provide the services needed. This will result in extra time off the road and expense for the business.
When purchasing a used vehicle it is also mandatory for vehicles to undergo a full safety inspection. The used vehicle could have been off the road for a long period of time, which could severely impact its roadworthiness.
Be sure to check with the vendor that servicing and inspections have been carried out, and discuss whether the first use inspection cost is included in the cost of purchase.
- Could Alternatives Help?
Certain types of used trucks are more likely to sell quickly than others. A great example of this is a used flatbed truck. These tend to be snapped up very quickly as there is such a limited stock of them in the UK. This can lead to trying to find a used flatbed becoming a very infuriating task.
In such examples it may be worth looking at alternatives to the type of used truck you are looking for. This may result in an additional expense as you will have to take the truck to body builders in order to get it converted.
As shown in the example above, a 4×2 tractor unit has been extended to become a 6×2 unit with a new axle, with a flatbed body being added to the truck. This has meant that the purchasers have got exactly what they are looking for, albeit with a little more expense.
As stated, it can become very easy to become disheartened when the exact configuration of truck you are looking for isn’t easily available. This is where having discussions with the vendor could become useful as they may have stock which could be converted into what you are looking for. They are also likely to have contacts with bodybuilders who may be able to help you achieve what you need.
- What Are Your Finance Options?
One option that dedicated truck dealers can offer over private sellers is the ability to offer finance for the purchase of a used truck. With finance offers, the initial cost of purchasing a used truck can be dramatically reduced, albeit it with higher costs per month in comparison.
This offering of finance can possibly make used trucks which are out of your initial budget attainable and may make the purchase of the exact truck that you need much more manageable. In many ways, this may offset many of the points that we have already discussed in this guide. For example, a company may require a vehicle with Chapter 8 markings – rather than selecting a vehicle without one and then adding these on as an additional expense, finance may make one of these vehicles affordable for the company. There would also be a gain in that the vehicle would not be off the road for these to be fitted – which again may be more profitable for the company.
As with all finance decisions, these should be taken with due care and ongoing concerns need to be considered. If you are interested in Financing a used truck purchase, be sure to discuss terms with the vendor.
- Arrange A Personal Viewing
Without doubt, the most important element of purchasing a used truck is to actual inspect the vehicle yourself prior to committing to purchase. In an age where more and more used vehicle trade is being facilitated by the internet, you must be able to see the vehicle for yourself before committing to the purchase.
If you do not have the strongest in technical knowledge about trucks, it may be advisable to take someone along with a good knowledge of trucks. This will mean that a pre-purchase inspection of the truck can take place and any unpublicised defects with the truck may be picked up during this.
When you meet the vendor you will be able to discuss any issues or questions which you may have about the vehicle. You should also be able to see important documentation pertaining to the truck. In many ways this is as important as any step in buying the used truck. You need to be able to trust the person you are buying from and be confident that any matters arising can be dealt with professionally and expediently.
Under no circumstances should you ever send money to a vendor for a truck having never met them. You may build up a relationship with a particular vendor, but it is always preferable to view every truck you wish to purchase.
We hope that you have found this guide useful in informing your decision to purchase a used truck. In many ways, there are very easy pitfalls to fall into which could see your purchase cost far more than you think. As long as you find a trustworthy vendor with great product knowledge, we can assure you that 99.9% of used truck purchases are easy and trouble free.
At Aquila Truck Centres we offer a range of used trucks and can assure you that we will ensure that you get the used truck you need at a great price. Why not check out the stock we currently have?
Thanks for reading this guide and we hope we have made your journey easier!