How To Learn About A Semi Truck's Past Care When Maintenance Records Aren't Available

Posted on: 24 May 2016

Prior to purchasing a particular used semi truck, you should find out everything you can about the truck's condition -- including how well its previous owner took care of it. Maintenance records can tell you a lot about how a truck was cared for in the past when they're available, but not all used semi trucks for sale come with complete records. If you're interested in a semi truck that there aren't complete maintenance records for, you can get a general idea of how the truck was cared for by making a trip to the garage of the previous owner.

Going to the Past Owner's Garage

It's usually easy to find out what company previously owned a semi truck that's for sale, and their garage typically isn't too far away. A salesperson at the dealer should be able to look up who the last owner of the truck was. Even if they don't know where the last company to own the truck keeps their fleet, you can call the company to ask. Most of the time, the previous owner's garage is nearby because towing a semi truck too far quickly becomes prohibitively expensive.

Once you know where the previous owner's trucks are stored, head over there. You'll need to ask an employee for permission to look at the trucks, but most people won't mind once you explain that you're thinking about buying another truck that the company used to keep in its fleet.

Inspecting the Current Fleet of Trucks

By looking over the current fleet of trucks, you should be able to assess their general condition. Even if the current fleet is newer than the truck you're considering buying, you can still check to see

  • whether the registration and inspection stickers are current or expired
  • how clean the truck's cabs are kept
  • if any lights or mirrors are broken or missing
  • when the truck looks like it was last washed

Together, these small details can show how well the company cares for their trucks. For example, if the trucks a company currently has are dirty, have expired stickers and have cracked tail lights, the semi you're thinking about buying probably has also been neglected. Alternatively, if all the trucks have been washed recently, are clean on the inside, and have current registration and inspection stickers, the company likely is diligent about their fleet's maintenance needs. The company probably took good care of the truck you're interested in buying, too.

If you're able to, watch a driver go through a full pre-trip inspection. Observing one will take a little while, as a complete inspection takes between 30 and 50 minutes. You'll get to learn a lot about the truck being inspected and it's condition, though -- more than checking minor items yourself will tell you.

Ask How Long the Company Keeps Trucks For

While looking trucks over, strike up a conversation with drivers at the company's facility and ask them how long the company typically keeps trucks for. Their answers could tell you a lot about both the condition of the trucks the company aquires and how much the company invests in maintenance.

Hopefully, drivers will say that the company keeps trucks around for a while: several years at least. This is a sign that the company buys reliable semis that are in good condition and that the company takes care of the trucks. Companies that only have trucks for a short time are likely not getting good-quality ones, and they probably aren't investing a lot in maintenance because they know they'll be selling the trucks.

Going Back to the Dealer

After you check over the company's fleet and talked with drivers about turnover rates, you'll be ready to go back to the dealer that has used semi trucks for sale. Explain what you learned about the previous owner of the semi you're looking at and how well you think the truck was maintained. If you think the company neglected the truck you've been looking at, the salesperson will be able to show you another semi. If you think the truck you're interested was well cared for, they'll be able to sell it to you.

For more information, contact local dealerships like Arrow Truck Sales


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