Tips for buying a used truck

October 05 2020

If you’re an owner-operator or small fleet owner It’s absolutely necessary to be armed with some good advice before you stride onto the used-car lot.  You’ll likely need to spend several hours researching what’s available, comparing prices and features, and determining which truck will meet your specific needs. Buying a used truck takes a leap of faith, and Matrix, Inc suggests buyers not to hesitate to lean heavily on the expertise of a trusted used truck dealer. Though this task may seem overwhelming, we’ve assembled some important tips for buying a used truck to help guide you through the process.


  • Make a list of your trucking requirements
  • Know your budget or price range you feel comfortable with
  • Narrow down your search to a few potential options
  • Investigate and assess the truck’s history and current condition
  • Determine appropriate financing and insurance options


While this checklist is a good guide to follow through the used truck buying process, there are plenty more factors to consider:

  1. RUNNING A HISTORY CHECK-make sure you ask for any paperwork related to major repairs. Ask for maintenance and oil change records, accident history, and if there have been any recent upgrades.
  2. FIND OUT THE REASON FOR SELLING THE TRUCK- One of the most important things before buying the truck is knowing the reason the owner has decided to sell the truck. Is he selling it because of an existing damage or simply because  they’re upgrading? If there is something wrong with the truck, then it’s better to be aware right off the bat so you don’t inherit a load of problems.
  3. EXAMINE THE TRUCK- do it only in daylight ! Even a well-lit lot will conceal defects and hamper a good inspection. You should also be on level ground in order to check the fluids correctly.Look at the inside of each tire for signs of leakage (brake fluid, grease) and tread wear.
  4. DETERMINE WHAT NEEDS REPLACING- If any parts are wearing out it could be time to have them replaced. Pay particularly close attention to the transmission and engine. Check if the truck’s brakes and lights are all working. If not, these will need replacing as well in order to adhere to safety standards.

-What kinds of accidents and collisions has the truck been involved in?

-How extensive was the damage?

-Which parts were replaced as a result of the damage?

Being aware of the accident history in advance can prepare you for potential problems down the road.

  1. EXAMINE THE ENGINE-Start the engine. Make sure there are no knocks or thuds. These sounds may indicate a bad crankshaft or connecting-rod bearing, and both of them are costly repairs. All trucks should have a high idle setting. Fuel-injected engines automatically set theirs, carbureted engines will require applying some generous gas after starting to set the fast idle. If the idle does not seem right, have the engine checked by a mechanic.


  1. IS THE EMISSION SYSTEM WORKING ? – It’s a costly mistake buying a truck with its emissions systems removed. The risk in buying it is that it is not insurable. So, if insurance is important to you, don’t buy one.
  2. CHECK THE OIL-  check the existing oil situation, as a part of the quality inspection.  It includes the condition and the level of the oil.  If you suspect anything, ask to see oil change records.
  3. LOOK FOR BODY RUST-Run your hand along the bottom of the doors and check for hard, rusty edges. Check the panels along the body from back to front; if they seem wavy or uneven, check them with a magnet (plastic body repairs won’t attract a magnet).If there are any raised spots on the roof, it means rust underneath. A more extended inspection of that area might be necessary if you want to buy that vehicle.
  4. CONSIDER THE MILEAGE- vehicle with high mileage doesn’t necessarily remove it from the running. If the truck has been consistently well cared for, it may still have a lot of life left in it. However,  If you’re planning on driving frequently over long distances, it may make more sense to look for a truck with lower mileage.
  5. WHAT WARRANTY COVERAGE IS AVAILABLE?- Ideally, a late model low-mileage used truck will still have some original OEM warranty coverage. If not, third-party warranty coverage is available and should be considered.
  6. SELECT THE BEST AXLE LAYOUT- There are different types of layout depending on the load you are carrying :
  1. Are you hauling goods long distances throughout difficult terrain?
  2. Or are you making shorter, more frequent trips?


Think about the long term investments, explore financing options and plan ahead.

  1. REPLACEMENT PARTS SOURCE- find at least two sources for part replacement appropriate for your truck. If the truck is a limited edition or a lesser-known model, it may be difficult to find the parts that will meet your needs.
  2.  BUDGET FOR REPAIRS AND UPGRADES- finding the right part suppliers and determining which parts are in need of repair or replacement you can complete picture of your budget.
  3. INSURANCE OPTIONS- consider the best possible coverage available that will support you should you suffer a loss to your business.  Rates can vary depending on the insurance provider.

Be careful and know when to walk away . Sometimes things sound too good to be true. For example mileage seems to be too low for the truck’s age. Or the seller had any hesitancy in providing maintenance records or allowing a mechanic to inspect, these can be strong indicators of a problem truck.

Matrix Inc services 

If you’re an owner operator willing to look for a job we have some good news for you!

 Matrix Trucks is Hiring owner operators!

We can provide you with the opportunity to pick up consistent loads from high-paying brokers. We’re a 100% owner-operator-based transportation company looking to attract experienced drivers to join our team. 

Follow our tips for buying a used truck and choose the best one for you !