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Buying Guide for Highway Trucks
Trucking companies handle nearly three-quarters of all freight moved nationwide today. That is a pretty astonishing responsibility, and yet the trucking industry has continued to serve as a reliable and robust transportation network for many decades now.
The most critical part of establishing or expanding your trucking network is to select the right truck for the job at hand. There are many different jobs to do - from short run hauls to long distance coast-to-coast deliveries. Because different trucks are designed differently for different jobs, you will also save a great deal of money by choosing your fleet wisely. Fuel efficiency, engine wear and tear, tires, maintenance - every aspect of a truck is tailored to the job it is designed to do.
If you are in the market to build or expand a fleet of heavy duty trucks, this Buying Guide will give you the information you need to make the best choice.
Choosing a Dealer for Highway Trucks
Whether you are planning to buy a pre-owned or new heavy duty truck, the dealer you select to work with will matter a great deal. You want to choose a dealer that will back your purchase for years to come. Longevity and expertise in the business coupled with excellent testimonials indicate you are headed in the right direction.
If the seller or dealership sits down to map out the exact specs of your jobs and works with you to match your job with the perfect heavy duty truck, you may have just found a winner. In the same way, any dealer that rushes you to the sale or spends more time talking about "hot deals" than good fits is probably one to walk away from.
In addition to finding a dealer with expertise, longevity, good reviews and a personalized sales approach, you want to be sure to ask about these features:
- What does the warranty include?
- How is maintenance and repair handled (and is it local and timely)?
- Do you offer training?
- (If you are buying a fleet) what kind of fleet deals do you offer?
Used Semi Trucks
If you decide to pursue a preowned semi-truck, you will have the same basic considerations but will need to add some additional questions before you make a purchase.
For instance, you will want to do your own research into the specific brand of truck - its longevity, major maintenance issues at certain mileages, known problems, strengths, et al.
You will also need to evaluate the seller and this can be more difficult if it is a private owner versus a dealership. For this reason, it is often much safer to opt for a company that specializes in used trucks rather than the classified ads in your local paper - it is just much easier to vet both the truck and its seller.
Before you purchase a used truck:
- Be sure you take it for a long test drive and note down any noises or behavior issues that seem unusual.
- Have your own trusted independent mechanic do a thorough inspection with diagnostics (expect to pay for this out of pocket).
- Ask for the vehicle's history, including maintenance and repair schedule.
- Note the odometer reading before and after your test drive and use that to compute the truck's fuel efficiency.
- Ask if the truck was part of a fleet or used by an individual (there are more fleet trucks in the used market today, but fleet trucks typically adhere to a more set maintenance schedule with records than a truck owned by an independent operator).
Pricing for Highway Trucks
It can be a huge investment to buy even one single highway truck, especially if it is brand new. The very newest models often have quite a variety of bells and whistles, from home-like sleeper cabs to state-of-the-art security systems, and this can quickly rack up the price tag.
In general, a new highway truck starts around $80,000 and heads upwards of $200,000.
Used highway trucks are also an investment, of course, but while there is still a range, it won't be what you would encounter for new trucks. Depending on what kind of truck you are looking at (short haul or long haul with sleeper cab) you may pay anywhere from $15,000 to $175,000. Mileage also plays a huge part in the price you will pay.
Financing is typically available for either new or used trucks because the investment is quite a lot to pay outright. Leasing is also available, and can be a good option if you need to expand your fleet, and even more so if you need the expanded capacity for a shorter period of time.
Buying Tips for Highway Trucks
Your number one feature in any truck - new or used - should be reliability and safety. After all, it can cost a human life if the truck you choose is not safe and reliable to operate. Once you have verified the truck's safety record, you will next want to look at the engine. A more powerful engine from a trusted manufacturer is worth its weight in gold (or at least silver)!
If you need a long haul truck, make sure the sleeper is "sleep-able." A well-rested operator is a safer operator and this is not an area to skimp on.
If at all possible, choose a truck that offers the option for a laptop mount or comes with one already installed. Laptops are so prevalent in the trucking industry today that trying to juggle laptop in a cab that doesn't have this feature doesn't make sense.
Finally, be sure you are purchasing a truck with reliable dash controls, whether they are the newer digital or older analog controls. These controls are what you or your operators will rely on for everything from engine trouble to fuel efficiency, navigation to mileage.