Setting Your Priorities When Buying a Semi Truck

Posted on: 30 May 2014

Whether you are buying new or used semi trucks for sale, many considerations remain the same, and likewise remain the same whether you're buying for a fleet or for individual use, whether you are leasing the truck out to other drivers or driving it yourself, and whether you're looking for a full time career or a part time job. Here are some of the most important points to look at when buying any semi-truck for any reason.

Axle Configuration, Horsepower, and Capacity

One of the first things you want to do is look up the truck axle configuration and transportation regulations in your area. You want to ensure that you're buying the right axle configuration, whether that be four by two, four by four or four by six, for what you're going to be carrying. Heavier loads over uneven terrain demand heavier duty axle configurations than lighter loads over easy terrain.

Basically, you need to ensure that the framework is there, that your truck can handle the job that you plan to throw at it. If you want to make a lot of short trips with lighter loads, you can go with a less heavy-duty configuration and save on fuel costs doing so. If you're hauling for a hardware supplier two states over, on the other hand, you need a configuration that can handle the job.

The Engine

A good look at the engine will tell you quite a bit. When the engine gets warm, you're going to see smoke coming out of the exhaust. Take a look at that smoke. Is it blue or white? If so, then that could point to an engine that is burning oil. You will also want to listen for any knocking sounds, as that's a sure sign that it needs some work before you take it out for a long haul. If the odometer reads around 400k miles, you definitely want to take a very close look at the engine before you hit the road.

The Cab

In many respects, the wear and tear on the cab can be very superficial, and quite easy to fix. You can't repair an engine or a tire with duct tape and a sewing kit, but it's easy enough to do just that for cracked vinyl seats, steering wheels that have seen better days and so on. Packing an iPod and a few blankets to lay over the seats can fix a lot of the biggest issues you'll have with a worn-and-torn old truck cab. That said, if you're paying premium prices, you want the entire truck to be premium, so make sure that the cab's condition matches what you expect for what you're paying.

Other Considerations

If available, when buying used, you'll want to look at maintenance logs in order to get an idea of what your truck has been through in the past with prevoius drivers and owners. Well kept maintenance logs can tip you off to issues that may be recurring, problems that may have an easier fix than you think, and these logs will give you an idea of how to get the most out of your new truck.

You may want to consider giving your truck a full checkup right from the start. Unless you can be certain that the previous owner has brought the truck up to peak condition before handing over the keys, you can consider fluid changes, new brake pads and so on.

When buying a truck from a site like, finding the right set of wheels is only the first step. From inspection to maintenance to your first long haul, owning a semi truck is an adventure.