Recognizing Vehicle Problems

Used Semi Truck Shopping Checklist: What To Look At

Whether you're shopping for your first semi-truck or you've only ever purchased trucks new, you may not be familiar with the nuances of shopping for a used model. While used models are budget-friendly and can be a great investment for any trucker, that's only the case when you get one that's in good condition and has been cared for. Before you start shopping for your next truck, you should be prepared by understanding some of the common issues to look for and the tips for handling the process.

Time It Right

When you find a listing that interests you, you want to be sure that you can get a good look at the truck. To do that, schedule all of your meetings during the middle of the day. That way, it's clear, bright, and easy for you to see all of the finer details. This reduces the chances of you missing something that may not have been clear in low light.

Do A Thorough Body Inspection

The first thing to look at as you inspect the truck is the condition of the body. Look at the paint closely, taking time to even look at the roof. If there are any raised areas of paint, that means the paint is bubbling. This usually happens when there's rust under it. Since there's no way to tell how deep that rust goes, it's a cause for concern.

Check the frame and the rest of the structure as well. There should be no signs of rust on any of those components. Additionally, there shouldn't be any indications of damage to the frame. If the frame seems misaligned, that may mean the truck has been in an accident. Another way to determine if the frame and body are properly aligned is to run your hand over the bottom of each door panel. In many cases, if the frame is shifted, those door panels won't fit correctly. You'll feel a slight shift in the position of the door when you slide your hand along the bottom panel.

Evaluate The Tires

Semi-truck tires are a significant investment, so you want to be sure that you know ahead of time if you'll have to plan on replacing them. Check the tread condition to be sure that there's still plenty of tread left on them. You might even want to bring a bottle of a soap and water mixture to spray on each tire to see if there are any pinhole air leaks. If there is any air leaking anywhere, you'll see bubbles form.

Check The Fluids

The engine fluids are vital to its operation, and the condition of them can say a lot about how the truck runs. Check the coolant in the radiator to be sure that it's a clean, clear green color. If it is dirty, cloudy, full of debris, or has any other issues, that's a cause for concern. Things like that can indicate engine damage and other potential problems. Both the engine and transmission oil should look and smell clean. If either one looks or smells burnt, contains any particles, or otherwise looks off, it may mean the engine has been neglected or there are mechanical problems.

Take A Test Drive

Start the truck and listen closely to it as it starts. There shouldn't be any unusual noises. The idle setting should be fairly high, but there shouldn't be any stuttering or other sounds. Test all of the electrical switches and lights to be sure they work as intended.

Drive it for about 15 miles or so to get a good idea of how it handles. Pay close attention to how responsive the clutch is and how the transmission shifts. If it's shifting hard or it's missing gears, that's a serious warning that there may be some upcoming transmission work needed. It can be costly, so consider that in the purchase price if you still decide to buy.

You should also evaluate the brakes to be sure that they are working as intended. Try both gentle stops as well has hard stops. You need to know how they'll respond in both situations. When you get back, shut it off and let it sit for a minute or two. Then, start the engine again. It shouldn't hesitate at all on the restart. If it does, that's an indication of mechanical issues.

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