Buying a used semi-truck checklist: 6 steps to get a great truck

October 13, 2020

A row of semi-trucks in a used truck lot

Buying a used semi-truck is not something that typically gets done in one day. It is rare that an owner-operator finds the perfect piece of equipment for their business on the first day they start shopping.

Rather, purchasing a used semi-truck from a place like Schneider Used Trucks and Trailers will likely take days, weeks or even months of researching, viewing inventories, budgeting and planning.

Don’t go into your next semi-truck purchase blindly; review our buying a used semi-truck checklist to set yourself up for success throughout the shopping process.

Buying a used semi-truck checklist

1. Determine what you want from your truck.

It’s a good idea to go into your purchasing experience with an idea of what you want in a semi-truck. From determining if you need a day cab or truck with a sleeper to preferring manual vs automated transmissions, there are many things to consider when buying a semi-truck.

2. Decide on a budget and if you need financing.

There’s a good chance sales reps are going to ask how much you can afford to spend on a truck. Know your answer and commit to it.

You’ll also want to figure out if you need to take out a loan on the truck or if you will be buying it with cash. Whether or not you will be qualified for financing is dependent on a number of factors, including how much you have for a down payment and what your credit score is.

3. Research, research, research.

Don’t settle on the first truck you find. Even if you are certain it’s the perfect piece of equipment for your business, continue shopping. Maybe another seller has the same truck at a better price and with a warranty still on it. Maybe a different seller has a truck you didn’t even consider. Take the time to shop around.

Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few potential options, set up times to see the trucks in-person.

4. Run a history check on the truck.

If you see the truck in-person and determine it’s a piece of equipment you’re seriously interested in, it’s always a good idea to run a history check. Information on accidents, maintenance, upgrades, oil changes, etc. will give you a holistic view of the truck’s history.

5. Assess the truck's current condition.

Once you confirm the truck’s history, you can assess the truck’s current condition. Check the overall appearance of the truck, the mileage, if there’s any damage, etc.

Most sellers will let the buyer drive the truck around to see how it rides, and some will even let you take the truck to a mechanic to confirm everything checks out.

6. Make an offer on a truck.

After you established the truck you want to purchase, it’s time to make an offer. Many companies, like Schneider Used Trucks and Trailers, give owner-operators the ability to name the price they’re willing to pay and are willing to meet reasonable offers.