Pre-purchase And Maintenance Tips For First-time Buyers Of Semi Trucks

If you have years of experience as a truck driver, performing interstate deliveries in semi trucks, and dream about starting your own trucking business, you will need to purchase your own vehicle when you branch out on your own. Semi trucks, even lightweight models designed for short trips, are expensive. As a small business owner, it is more economical for you to purchase a used truck instead of going deep into debt purchasing a brand new semi. In order to secure and maintain a truck in excellent condition, take heed of the following tips.

Get a Pre-sale Inspection

Since you will be spending tens of thousands of dollars for a truck that you hope will last for years, it behooves you to make sure that the truck is in good, working condition when you buy it. In addition, you want it to look great and not have any major cosmetic issues. Consequently, it is important to schedule a pre-sale inspection of the truck you want to purchase to make sure it meets manufacturer specifications.

Hire a licensed mechanic to conduct the truck inspection. The process involves a visual inspection and a road test. The mechanic will make sure that truck does not have any broken components, leaks or safety issues. The inspection also includes examining the truck's brakes, chassis, engine, tires, windshield, electrical components and steer assembly.

The mechanic should provide you with a detailed report of the inspection results. You should also request the truck's maintenance records from the dealer.

Always Be Ready for Roadside Checks

Heavy duty commercial trucks like semis are subject to federal roadside checks. If you transport hazardous materials, your truck must undergo even more scrutiny during checks.

As a result, it is imperative to keep your truck in excellent condition and complete federally-mandated daily vehicle checklists. You should also inspect your truck at the end of the day and take care of any problems as soon as possible.

When you are stopped for a roadside check, you must provide your commercial driver's license, a current log book of daily checks, a copy of your annual inspection, your medical examiner's certificate and federal Hazmat registration if you are carrying hazardous materials.

There are five types of roadside inspections, rated level one to five:

  • A level one inspection is a comprehensive check of your documents and vehicle.
  • A level two check does not include examining underneath the truck.
  • Level three inspections only include a check of your paperwork.
  • Level four inspections only include specific components of your truck.
  • A level five inspection takes place at your place of business.

If you fail a roadside inspection due to serious violations, the government will issue you an immediate out of service order that will keep you off the road until the vehicle is repaired.

Be Prepared for Annual Inspections

In addition to roadside checks, you will also need to pass a federal annual inspection of your commercial truck. If you pass the inspection, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will issue you a sticker to place on your vehicle.

You are responsible for taking your truck to a certified annual inspector. Many states also require annual inspections. In over 20 states, the FMCSA will exempt you from the federal annual inspection requirement if you pass the state inspection.

Do Not Use Second Rate Parts

The best way to prolong the life of your used truck is to treat it right. This means preventative maintenance and the use of high quality parts. While it may be tempting to cut corners by using second-hand or aftermarket parts for repairs, you may end up installing inferior products in your truck.

Make sure that your mechanic uses original equipment manufacturer parts if you want to have peace of mind and not worry about the quality of aftermarket products. OEM parts are more reliable because they are made by the manufacturer of your truck and come with a warranty. For more information, see a website such as