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Before You Buy a Truck, Do Your Homework

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Buying a truck is a huge investment, but it carries with it the freedom to be your own boss and pick and choose what you want to haul. Once you have your CDL, or commercial driver’s license, you can begin your trucking career. Before you buy a truck, try working for another trucking company. With long hours on the road and stops by government personnel including police officers, you’ll want to know the reality of the industry before you make such a large investment.

Shopping For a Used Semi-Truck

Once you’ve determined that you are ready to start your trucking business, take a look at used trucks first. If you are able to purchase a truck outright, you can avoid the heavy fees associated with loans. You need to move enough freight to pay for the vehicle, so purchasing a truck with all the bells and whistles may not be wise when you’re first starting out. When looking at a used truck, you may be tempted to check out the interior first to see how comfortable it is and how nice the sleeping compartment is, but the most important thing about your truck is how it runs. This is going to be your livelihood, so you want to make sure that what’s under the hood is in good repair. Check out the engine and the transmission, and once those have passed inspection, check out the brakes. If all of those are in good repair, you can move onto things that make your truck driving experience more comfortable.

When buying a used truck, learn the history. Use a trusted agency to get any information on the truck such as if it’s been in an accident or if it has sustained flood damage. Look for warning signs like rust under the hood or mold in the interior. Even if the truck has just sat for awhile and hasn’t actually been damaged, that kind of wear can make the truck dangerous to operate. A good used rig can run $20,000 to $50,000, so educate yourself before you make your purchase.

Do Your Homework

The Equipment Data Associates, a division of Randall-Reilly, is a great resource for information when you’re researching your truck purchase and collects/reports a vehicles history by VIN number.

With natural disasters striking often, such as Hurricane Sandy, make sure you know where your truck came from and how to tell if it’s sustained damage from a storm. The National Automobile Dealers Association, which includes the American Truck Dealers division offers more information/resources available at The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) works with law enforcement to ensure that affected vehicles are entered into the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System.

If you are more established, you may want to consider buying a brand new truck. New tractors can easily cost $80,000 to $100,000 or more, so you’ll have to prioritize your needs unless you can make large loan payments or have a lot of extra money on-hand. One major reason some people opt for a new tractor over a used rig is the mileage they plan to put on the truck. Used trucks are closer to the end of their lives and will likely require more maintenance earlier than a new truck will. Be sure to go through all of your options both financially and logistically before making your decision.