We often promote the sale of California Used Trucks. Some might think it is a sales gimmick like the “Happy Cows” or singing California raisins, but we believe there truly is a difference. We dedicated an entire post to Why Drive California Trucks. While weather is important, we contend in the post that another factor is that California Truck owners are fanatical about their equipment. We all know that California is an extremely image conscious state as well as an expensive place to live. If that wasn’t enough, California fleet trucks are required to have an inspection every 90 days. Californian’s take care of their trucks and do routine maintenance regularly to save money and avoid costly needless repairs or fines. They also position themselves for a higher resale value on their pre-owned vehicle.
Like a Canary in a coal mine, we believe a rusty frame may be a warning sign that wiring and engine components may be in the same condition. This is not always the case but further inspection should be warranted upon test driving the truck. Below are two photos. The one on the left is a freshly painted frame from a 2006 truck from the East, and the photo on the right is from a 2007 California dump truck in our yard. The paint is original. At first glance, these heavy-duty trucks may not look a heck of a lot different. But look closely enough and you can see that frame paint on the left is already bubbling from corrosion underneath.
We hope you are not in a rush, because finding the right truck is a time consuming process. Before you can inspect a truck, before an offer is made, you want to make sure the truck you are looking is not just a truck but the right truck. For many owner operators, this may sound silly but you would be surprised at how many people rush through the process and end up with something they didn’t expect.
Before you begin your search, imagine a deck of cards. An Ace trumps a King, a King trumps a Queen and so on. When purchasing a truck, what is your Ace? Is the make of truck the most important factor in determining your purchase? We sell a lot of Peterbilt’s and we sell a lot of Peterbilt’s to repeat customers. We have customers who are brand loyal, for them the Peterbilt brand name is an Ace. We also have customers who value price over brand. They might prefer a Peterbilt but if there are two trucks with the same specs and one costs less, the cheaper one is their new favorite.
While brand loyalty is high on the priority list, we find that specifications are usually the most important factor. Purchases of expensive semi trucks are made every day that are spec’d incorrectly. Not doing your homework on specifications can be a costly lesson. One of the first questions, an experienced sales person will ask is, “What are you using it for.” Other important factors for your deck include, engine make (is it a CAT or Cummins), Pre-emission or emission, wheelbase, transmission speed, as well as sleeper or day cab, just to name a few. Once you rank what is important, it’s now time to search for the perfect semi-truck.
Well, Charter Trucks believes CharterTrucks.com is the only place to search for a semi-truck or trailer. Okay, this maybe a bit of a stretch.
Less than a decade ago, the majority of trucks were found in a magazine or at an auction. Today buyers find their used big rigs online. While most start their search at the big clearing house sites like truckpaper.com, commercialtrucktrader.com, and ironplanet.com, more and more buyers are turning to social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even LinkedIn. Two years ago, Charter Trucks had 2,000 followers on their Facebook page, today we have over 15,000 people receiving our latest inventory within in minutes of arriving.
If you are using one of the big online internet clearing houses, once you have narrowed your search down to a few trucks, try to see if they are also hosted on that dealers website (unless it is a private party). Why? There are two reasons. 1) If you go to a dealer site, you get a better idea of what the rest of their inventory looks like. Is it clean? Do they specialize in the truck you are looking for or is the truck in their yard just a one off? 2) Dealer websites have unlimited space to tell you are about their product.
You have found the truck or trucks you wish to look at, now it’s time to get down to business. At the end of the day buying a used truck is always a risk and anyone who doesn’t tell you that up front is not telling the truth. With that said, purchasing used can save you thousands and thousands of dollars even with the cost of repairs factored in. To better your odds on finding your perfect truck, you must ask questions and lots of them. If you are purchasing site unseen, you must go even one step, maybe even two steps further.
These are just a few questions to consider. If you have any that have that you would like to add, please let us know.