Buying a Used Semi Truck? Here’s What You Should Know

Buying a used semi truck is a good way to get into the business, or expand you fleet for a much lower cost than buying new. If you perform proper due diligence when shopping around, you can get an excellent used truck that will serve your business for years to come while also saving thousands. You can also finance a used semi truck, just like you can a new one. Combined with low down payment options available, turning to the used truck market can really make sense.

If you’ve purchased a car before, the process is very similar. But there are some truck specific things that you need to look for before you sign the papers.

Maintenance Logs

The best indicator of a truck’s condition will be the maintenance logs. A solid his
tory of routine maintenance and repairs should indicate that the truck will serve you well. But don’t stop there.


A few hundred thousand miles are a lot for a car, but not for a semi truck. Generally, a diesel engine will need a rebuild around the million mile mark. So if you’re at 500,000 for example, you’ll be safe for a little bit.

buying a used semi truck can be a smart choice

Horsepower and Axle Configuration

You should start by making sure the truck you are looking at is configured right for your needs. This includes engine size and horsepower as well as the axle configuration and transmission type.

450 horsepower might be enough for a carrier pulling light dry vans, but if you are hauling heavy equipment, you might need 500 or 550 horsepower. You’ll also want to make sure the axle configuration is adequate too.


If you aren’t too mechanically savvy, you should have a trusted diesel mechanic do a quick look-over of the truck. If you know what’s what on your own, start up the engine and let it idle for a few minutes. Get up close and listen for any knocks in the engine or other strange noises.

Next, look at the color of the exhaust. Blue smoke indicates that the engine is burning oil, which you’d like to avoid. Also take a quick look underneath the truck to see if there are and fluid leaks.


If you are an OTR trucker looking for a sleeper cab, this is arguably one of the most important things to really look over. Be sure that the sleeper is big enough for you and your belongings. You’ll be spending a lot of time in it.

Also look for a good storage compartment layout and other minor features that are important to you.

While you will want a sleeper that is big enough, don’t go too crazy if you don’t have to. An abnormally large sleeper will not only be more expensive but it will add extra weight to the tractor, which reduces to amount of freight that you can legally haul. It’s also more work to keep it clean and tidy, which is something that is easily overlooked.

Auxiliary Power Unit (APU)

Growing in popularity, APU’s are a great way to conserve fuel and help our planet. An auxiliary power unit can keep you cool in the summer, or warm in the winter when you’re in a state that has anti-idling ordinances in place.

They can also power your electronic devices such as refrigerators, televisions, computers, etc. If you’re looking at a truck with one of these, check it out to make sure it runs well and has been maintained.

What Else to Look For?

Is there anything else that you look for when you’re buying a used semi truck? Leave it in the comments below!





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