The escalating price of new work trucks has many buyers considering the used truck market. For about 40 – 65% of the price of a new work truck a customer can buy a used truck that has more than 75% of the useful life still available, if properly maintained. The main problem is how do you locate and verify a work truck in good condition, when the vehicles are typically bought as-is & sight unseen. Below are a list of helpful suggestions to help complete due diligence when purchasing a used work truck.
- Dealer Reputation – Ask the dealer for a referral of a customer who recently bought a truck from them. Having a customer’s opinion is often the best way of discovering what kind of dealer you are about to transact with.
- Ask the dealer where the truck came from? – Used trucks that have operated in the Northeast, Midwest, and upper Central regions probably have been exposed to some very harsh de-icing agents. The last thing you need is a vehicle with an eroding undercarriage. Try to get trucks that have operated in the South, Central South, Southwest, West, and Northwest regions.
- Ask for an ECM (Electronic Computer Module) readout – Truck manufactured after 2002 are equipped with an ECM module. An ECM report will give you the true mileage reading. Many times dashboard instrument clusters are completely replaced in a work truck, so the new digital odometer might read lower that the true miles. The only way to get accurate mileage reading is to generate an ECM report.
- Buy a VIN inspection – For less than $50.00, you can order VIN inspection that will give you the entire reported history for accidents, service, ownership, and DMV registration. A good online resource is: www.autocheck.com
- D.O.T. inspection – Request the dealer perform a DOT (Dept. of Transportation) inspection with a 3rd party service facility. Costs can vary from $75 – $150.
- Request pictures of the truck – Extensive pictures of both the exterior & interior are essential in making a good decision. It might be wise to request a picture of the VIN plate as well.
- Used vehicle condition report – Hire a local service center to independently inspect & complete a used vehicle condition report. A D.O.T. inspection report will suffice, but a used vehicle condition report can be significantly more extensive.
The old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth of a pound of cure”, this holds exceptionally true in purchasing a used vehicle. Spending a small amount of time and money into a future investment is a great way of protecting yourself from a substandard used vehicle. Following just a few of these items above and you’re one-step closer to buying a good used work truck.