Overdrive Magazine

September 2020

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18 | Overdrive | September 2020 The market for used trucks has been good in recent times. Thanks to a higher volume of newer used trucks becoming available, prices have dropped. Also, interest rates, particularly for those with good credit, are in owner-operators' favor. Here are some considerations to help you choose equipment that fits your needs and presents no surprising maintenance problems. EVALUATE COMPONENTS AND FUEL EFFICIENCY. The truck model alone tells you little, because trucks can be spec'd in many ways. For any particular vehicle, learn about the engine, transmission, rear-end ratio, horsepower, torque settings, component weights and weight limits. These specs can impact your profitability, so make sure you get the right truck for your application — type of freight, regions of haul, expected weight, etc. Whatever the application, the first two priorities in choosing a truck are fuel mileage and maintenance costs. The things affecting those priorities include body style, engine, transmission, rear-end ratio, tire sizes and styles, weight, accessories, auxiliary power units or other idle reduction technology, mileage, sleeper size and more. Specs properly matched to your application contribute to better fuel economy. Most used trucks were not spec'd for optimal fuel mileage, so dig deep to find what you need. START YOUR SEARCH. Many online resources are available, and a simple Google search will get you started. List all truck models that might meet your criteria. In the beginning, you can try to match your criteria exactly, but if you are having trouble finding good candidates, lighten up a bit on the less critical requirements. Give yourself plenty of time for research: 30 to 60 days is not out of the question. One of the best sources is EquipmentExperts.com, operated by Overdrive publisher Randall-Reilly. It's a used equipment marketplace representing many dealers, so it can be a much more expedient search tool than exploring dealers individually. It includes verified owner reviews, articles from Randall- Reilly's trucking publications, equipment comparison tools and specs. NARROW YOUR LIST. Once you have found three to five trucks that meet your key requirements, run a VIN check online through services such as RigDig.com to get as much history as possible. You will find ownership history, insurance claims, accidents, mileage history and more. When you find a clear reason to not buy a certain truck, move on. RESEARCH IN DEPTH. Call the dealer to get as much information as possible: maintenance history, ECM reports, pictures, even video. If a dealer doesn't have this information or puts you off, move on. Others will work with you. Research the operation in which the truck has been used, whether it's been parked for extended periods of time and what preventive maintenance has been done. If the truck came from a large fleet, its maintenance records likely are available. SCHEDULE INSPECTIONS. Three separate inspections are ideal, preferably performed by shops other than the selling dealer: • Engine inspection by an original equipment manufacturer shop, such as a Detroit Diesel garage for a Detroit engine. Ask for tests for the dyno, engine blow-by, an oil analysis and the charge air cooler, and an evaluation as to whether the engine's condition is reasonable for its mileage. • Front-end inspection. This provides a good indication of how well the truck has been maintained. • A bumper-to-mudflap inspection. Ask the mechanic for his opinion on the truck overall, including the condition of all major systems. If you are diligent each step of the way, you should be confident that the time and money you invested in the choice were well worth it. Happy hunting: A used truck primer Once you've focused on a few trucks that meet your requirements, run a VIN check to get as much history as possible. If a truck has nothing alarming in its background, get tests to determine the condition of the engine and other components. This article is adapted from the Overdrive's Partners in Business 2021 manual, now available for download at OverdriveOnline.com/PIB. Partners in Business is produced by Overdrive and the consultants at ATBS, the nation's largest owner-operator business services firm. It's sponsored by TBS Factoring.

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