Top Tips for buying Used - 1st Time Buyers Guide

Make an informed decision on your used truck purchase by following these simple guidelines 

It goes without saying that a used truck comes with a history, and therefore more potential risk if you're unsure how to go about finding a quality pre-owned truck.

With that in mind, we've compiled the list below of our top pointers for first-time used truck buyers:


1) Be clear on your priorities and budget 

 Perhaps the most important of all our tips is to know first and foremost what it is that you want. The used truck market is   expansive, and it can be difficult to know where to begin, so set your list of priorities as early as possible to avoid a   lengthy and frustrating search. 

Things to consider are - what do you want to use the truck for? What sort of transmission best suits you? Are you prepared to undertake extra training depending on the truck you buy? Keep in mind that any purchase will be subject to VAT when determining budget. 


2) Make sure that the truck can carry your potential payload

The next crucial inital step is to be clear on your potential payload. Knowing this will determine what sort of axle configuration and specification is best suited to you. When conducting your search you will need to take the gross vehicle weight (GVW) into account, which is the maximum operating weight/mass of a vehicle as specified by the manufacturer. 

It includes the vehicles chassis, body, engine, engine fluids, fuel, acessories, driver, passengers and cargo, but excludes that of any trailers. Also known as the permissable maximum weight, it will be listed in the owner's manual or shown on a plate/sticker on the vehicle. More information on vehicle weight allowances can be found here.


3) Investigate the truck's history 

Once you've found a truck that interests you it's time to look into its history. Buying a truck is a big investment, so don't be afraid to ask as many questions as needed to establish its quality and lifespan. Request to look at the V5 paperwork to confirm that the specification and MoT dates are correct. 

You'll then want to see the truck's service history and maintenance records - this will list work that has been done to the vehicle, whether there have been any accidents, and may be a good indicator of what might need replacing in the near future if something hasn't been upgraded in a while. You'll also be able to see whether work has been done through main dealers.

If something major has been changed recently, it's worth asking the seller why it was done, in addition to information about the previous owners and how the truck ran for them. 


4) Complete a thorough inspection

Now it's time to go and visit your dealer to get an up-close look at the vehicle. 

Complete a rust check (paying particular attention to unexpected locations like wheel arches and the corner of the windscreen), and take a look at the paintwork. Has it been repainted recently? If yes, why? You'll want to establish that the bodywork underneath is in good condition, and that something questionable hasn't been hastily covered up by a fresh coat of paint.

Other checks that should be done include: water level, oil quality, that the engine runs smoothly (listen outside of the cab), no oil leaks, that the break pads are responsive, whether the catwalk is secure, and that the locking cap on the fuel tanks works.

And finally, don't forget to have a look inside the cab - this is especially important if you're purchasing a sleeper truck. The mattress should be in good condition, the seat embroidery firmly in place, and the curtains up. 


5) Go for a test drive

Once you're satisfied with the exterior quality of the truck hop in and take it for a test drive, not only to assess how the engine runs but how it feels on the road. Make sure that the trade plates are present before you set off. 

When you first start it up check that all lights (aside from the handbrake) have gone out, and enquire about any that haven't, as it could indicate a fault.


6) Check that your licence covers your plans 

A category C licence is the entry level licence for anyone who wants to become a HGV driver. This allows you to drive rigid vehicles over 3.5 tonnes with a trailer up to 750 kg, whereas a category C+E, the highest of the LGV licenes, lets you drive articulated vehicles over 3.5 tonnes and a trailer over 750 kg.

On top of this, a driver CPC (Certification of Professional Competence) is required of all professional truck drivers, in addition to a vocational driving licence. The CPC is awarded after passing a series of qualification tests, followed by 35 hours of periodic training every five years.


7) Get your o-licence

If you're buying a used truck to start your own business you'll need to hold a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) operators licence, otherwise known as an 'o' licence. This permits you to operate vehicles above 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight (GVW) that are used to carry goods (i.e. anything not permanently attached to the vehicle) on public roads for trade or business purposes. The licence is issued by the Traffic Commissioner - the independent regulator of the commercial road transport industry.

Before applying for the licence you are required to have a company base and an advert in the local paper for 21 days prior to application. Then you can apply for your licence online or by post. More information on that here.


8) Don't forget the tyres

As we recently discussed, staying aware of the age and history of a tyre is set to become of increasing importance for drivers, so you'll definitely want to check them.

Inspect the tyre tread depth, ask how many miles are on them, and when they would be due for replacement. Establish that the tyres all have the same specification, and look at the wheel rims for any signs of damage. Once again, air any concerns that you have with the seller.


9) Consider your finance options

Deciding how to finance your new truck is an incredibly personal decision. What's important to remember is to go about it in the way that is most manageable for you and your business. 

Scania Financial Services  offer flexible financing and insurance options to help customers finance their business in the most effective way with a personalised operation profile. 


10) Research, research, research!

As a priority, make sure that you are buying from a reputable seller -don't get caught out by a tempting price supplemented with little information - it's probably not going to end well. You should make sure that the price of the truck is competive, but reasonably in line with other quotes. If you're in the industry, speak to an unbiased contact for a word-of-mouth recommendation. You could also look at google reviews and customer testimonials online.

But it's not just the seller you should research; look into reviews of the model you're interested in. How has it fared for other people? Are there any trends or faults in negative feedback?

And last but not least, don't rush into a decision - you may be one of the lucky few who stumble across their perfect used truck first time, but the likelihood is that this won't be the case. Take as much time (and see as many trucks as you can) to feel satisfied that the one you choose will be the perfect fit for your operation.