Image of trucks and a for sale sign with the caption "Used Commercial Truck Buying Guide."

Buying a used commercial truck is a huge step for most people and it can be an over whelming venture. Many questions come up when shopping the market for used trucks. Here we brake down the buying process in some easy steps for you to follow.


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Used Commercial Truck Buying Guide


Many truck drivers already know what brand and type of truck they want to jump into but I want to caution you into making a quick decision that you may regret. I highly suggest buying from dealerships for a number of reasons.


Know Your Trucking Operation

Nobody knows more about your trucking operation than you do.

If you primarily operate in the Midwest then a more aerodynamic commercial truck with a smaller motor and a ten speed transmission will pay off big for you with the huge savings in fuel costs.

If you operate in the rocky mountains and haul heavy loads then it may be to your advantage to choose a truck with a larger horsepower engine and a 13 or 18 speed transmission. Aerodynamic advantages are severely diminished when operating in a very mountainous environment.

An Over The Road (OTR) trucking operation will operate in a very deserve environment but I would caution against operating a large horsepower engines and non aerodynamic trucks. Most of the United States is relatively flat and you want to gain as much advantage as possible from fuel savings as possible.


1) ECM Reports Are A Must

Pulling the ECM (Electronic Control Module) report from a commercial truck that you may be purchasing is extremely important. When you go to the dealership and find a truck you are interested in in ask them to pull the ECM report for you. It takes a few minutes but it will literally tell you everything you need to know about that truck. Fuel mileage, engine fault codes, accident data, hard braking, average and top speed and a host of other data will be printed out for you. Use the ECM data to analyze that trucks life and pay particular attention to fuel mileage as this often indicates whether a commercial truck is performing well or not.


2) Check The Oil.. Not what you think

Take a sample of the motor oil and send it into an oil testing lab . They will analyze the oil and tell you if they can detect any problems or high levels of metal. Often they will be able to tell you exactly what parts are abnormally wearing within the engine.


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3) Have The Truck Inspected

Most likely you are not a master mechanic so it is a great idea to take the truck to a reputable shop to have the truck and engine inspected. Brakes, tires, electrical, air leaks, fluid leaks, steering and suspension  are just a few of the things that they will inspect for you.


4) Stay Away From Truck Brokers and Middlemen

There is no need to put someone in the middle of the buying process. There is no real advantage to using a real broker unless you want to pay more for the truck you are buying


5) Financing For Commercial Trucks

Buying a commercial truck is no different than buying a personal vehicle. Dealerships have many financing options as do truck manufactures like International,  Kenworth, Peterbuilt and Friegtliner. As with any large purchase it is always best to pay as much money down as possible to lessen interest rates.


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Buying a commercial truck is a simple process when you break it down. If you use the above steps you can assure yourself that you are not only not getting a lemon but a high quality truck. All trucks are not created equal and I can say that from first hand personal experience. If you put the time into finding a quality commercial truck you will be rewarded.