Buying a used semi-truck can be an excellent way to start as an owner-operator, especially if you don't have the cash or credit necessary to finance a brand new truck. Even if you can afford a new truck, buying used can save you money upfront and allow your business to begin turning a profit more quickly. However, it's also a somewhat more complex process that requires a little more time and care.
While most experienced drivers know what to look for in a truck, you may be a little more hesitant if you don't have too many miles under your belt. Fortunately, buying used is an excellent option for drivers at any stage in their careers. If you aren't confident in your abilities to pick the perfect rig, these three tips will help you find something to launch your independent trucking career.
1. Use a Reputable Dealer
Working with a reputable dealer will be one of the most critical decisions you make in your truck-buying process. Personal recommendations and online reviews are a great place to start, but you can also speak with some local semi-truck mechanics. Shops that deal with heavy-duty trucks can often point you in the right direction when it comes to finding a great used dealer.
Once you arrive, a reputable dealership's sales staff should be able to help you find a perfect truck for your needs and budget. Don't overlook the importance of these recommendations. Good dealerships stake their reputations on making good sales, so the staff will be eager to pair you with a reliable truck that fits your requirements.
2. Know Your Stuff (Or Bring Someone Who Does)
One of the advantages of experience in this industry is picking up on the little details that can indicate an issue with a rig. If you're still too green to have that level of intuition, bring along a friend who can help you evaluate how a truck runs and drives. Alternately, speak with some local shops. You may be able to hire a mechanic to accompany you for an on-lot inspection.
Remember that even the most thorough dealership inspection can miss problems, so performing your own assessment is always a good idea. The small amount you'll spend on this process will buy you significant peace of mind when you've got thousands of miles of road ahead of you.
3. Keep An Open Mind
Getting a great bargain with used heavy-duty trucks often means keeping an open mind. Don't go into the process with a single brand – or even a particular mileage or age – in mind. Instead, be ready to listen to dealer recommendations and browse the options on the lot. As long as you keep your core business requirements in mind, you can often find great trucks by thinking a little bit outside of the box.