Buying a commercial box truck is a large financial investment. But this option is not for everybody.
If you're just starting a box truck business, being conservative with your budget is smart. And that means buying a used box truck instead of buying a brand new one.
Speaking from the saving money perspective, before you buy a used box truck, do your research ahead of the purchase. This helps you to know what to look for when buying a used box truck and helps you to avoid any further problems occurring after specification and ordering errors such as finding out, after the purchase, that the box truck sits too low, its body is too short, or the chassis is too light, etc.
Avoiding these issues while buying a used box truck also can save you money and time.
So, when you decide to buy a used box truck do your homework and be prepared when you come to the dealer. Know what are you hauling, how will you be loading it, and who will be driving it.
Here are a few things to consider before you sign the box truck purchase contract.
Check on the seller or the dealer
When buying a used box truck, you want to do business with an honest dealer or a seller. That means supporting you and answering all your questions about the box truck.
Also, you want to do business with a reputable dealer. One that you can easily find and check.
Ask the VIN from the dealer and run it through a private service to find out the box truck's history. This may reveal whether the truck has been reported stolen or totaled.
Make sure that the dealer gives you honest information about the box truck.
What to look for when buying a used box truck
1. Do your homework
Request a detailed history of the box truck that includes its previous purpose, modifications, accident records, the type of freight hauled, etc.
2. Know what will you be hauling
When buying a box truck consider the type of freight that you'll be hauling regularly.
It's one thing to carry plastic toys and it's another thing to carry heavy stones on pallets. In the second case you might need a box truck with a higher GVWR and, probably, need a CDL.
Also, the type of freight may determine the type of floor you need inside the box, the type of rear door you need in the back of the box, and the type of chassis.
3. Check the specs for efficient dock delivery
The box truck that you plan to buy, should fit in most, if not all, loading docks and other facilities.
Make sure it has the proper wheel size, rear door type, and forklift package to make loading and unloading as safe and easy as possible.
- Rear door type
If the box truck will have to deliver the goods at a high dock then the roll-up rear door is the best option.
If the truck has swing doors, they'll have issues opening the doors when the driver backs up to the high dock.
- Chassis wheel size
Light GVW trucks with boxes usually have small (19.5-inch) tires and they sit lower to the ground at the back of the body, which makes it too low for dock loading and unloading.
- Forklift package
if a forklift will be used to load cargo onto the truck from a dock, make sure the box trailer is dock high.
4. Interior lights for the body
This depends on whether the box truck will be used for loading or unloading during the night.
Interior lights inside the box trailer may help to speed up the loading or unloading process.
5. Check the correct box trailer and chassis size
Check the size of the box trailer and the chassis. You want to find a truck that has a good compromise between space for cargo and the total weight limit. The chassis and the box need to be compatible.
For example, the majority of the box trucks come in GVWR classes from 3 to 6 that can fit not more than 26,000 pounds of freight. Going bigger than that means that the driver needs a commercial license to operate the truck.
If you find a box truck with a too big cargo box, it is a sign that the previous owner didn't know what he was doing.
Walk away from these units.
Box truck's chassis should safely accommodate the length of the cargo box.
Verify the right ratio by contacting the body's original equipment manufacturer.
Condition of the box truck
A box truck’s condition should be its most significant selling point.
Once you find a box truck that fits your needs, inspect it for any possible damage. Any signs of clear damage misuse of the truck should raise a red flag for you.
The cab is a good place to start checking.
- The worn-out controls and overall condition of the interior speaks about how the previous drivers treated the truck.
- Ask the seller why it’s on the market, and have a certified mechanic inspect it.
- Ask for a test drive to make sure the steering wheel is easy to control and the brakes are working properly.
- Have a mechanic check the truck's condition with you.
You might want to start checking the following:
6. Tire Condition
The condition of the tires tells you how was the truck treated by its previous owner.
Take a glimpse of the inside of every tire for signs of grease or leaking brake fluid.
7. Engine Coolant
Raise the hood to check the condition of the engine fluids.
The coolant that appears rusty or brownish indicates that rust or other deposits are present in the engine, heater core, and radiator.
8 Air Filter and Engine Surface
If excessive dirt is trapped in the air filter and large amounts of grease and oil are accumulated on the engine, it is a clear indication that the truck did not have a sound maintenance program.
9. Engine Oil
Dark and sticky oil indicates the presence of sludge and debris which can harm the engine’s moving parts.
It also indicates that the truck has routinely gone past its oil change due date.
You can verify this by checking the vehicle’s oil change records.
10. Body rust
Rust can be located anywhere on a truck’s body. Check for it everywhere, even on the roof!
11. Doors and Window Seals
Check all doors and window seals to make sure that they are in good condition. Faulty doors can be a safety/security risk and poor seals can cause water leaks in the truck cabin.
Check and test all lights to make sure that they are working properly. Malfunctioning lights can indicate electrical problems which can become serious if left unattended.
If you have the proper knowledge, buying a used commercial truck can be a smooth process that will save you money!