Looking for a good commercial truck at a fair price is sometimes a difficult process.

The term “good” applies not only to the actual condition of the truck, but also making sure it fits your needs properly. A great deal on a pair of size 9 shoes is not so great, if you wear size 11. You might make them work, but it will probably be a painful experience.

Most buyers look first at prices. Whereas price is an important factor, as demonstrated by the example above, should not be your motivating factor in a purchase. In todays world, pricing seems to change, usually higher, on a daily basis. Diligence in price comparative shopping is very important. But it is also very difficult due the vast amount of differences in similar trucks. This one has a liftgate, but the other one has a larger motor for moving the cargo, and the other one has 1/2 the mileage. Which one has the best application for you?

Consider the source of the truck. Is it at a private party, an auction, a dealer?

Private parties should be able to provide a history of maintenance, etc. How long have they owned it. How many miles did they put on it? Whereas, most private sellers are regular normal people, many are flippers, or “professional sellers” without a dealers license. If the seller does not have a clear title to the truck REGISTERED in their name, a warning buzzer should go off. A title with the original owners signature, but no assignee is a warning sign. What if there is a problem with transferring the registration? Does the person you are handing money to have that persons contact info? If so get it. Maybe even call them to verify condition and availability in case of any title issues.

Auctions provide a lot of access to a lot of trucks. Almost without exception, they are sold AS IS. To be fair, virtually all sellers are selling the trucks AS IS. However, with both private seller and dealers, you should have the opportunity to test drive, inspect and even have a 3rd party provide a report of condition. A live auction may allow you to start a motor, verify operations of added components such as a dump truck or bucket truck, but never a test drive. Online auctions are much larger risk. You are totally at the mercy of photos, possible a short video, and in most cases not much more assistance. Remember you are buying the truck totally at your own risk. Once sold, there is never a way out of the purchase.

Dealers are basically licensed private sellers. Always find out the last known physical location of the truck if possible. Is it from the rust belt? Did the dealer drive, or have the truck driven a distance, so they actually know the drivability of the truck? If it was transported on a trailer, they don’t have anymore experience with the truck than you do. Are they willing to allow you to bring a 3rd party for an inspection? Keep in mind, taking a truck to your mechanic requires a representative from the dealership to leave the site for hours, since most insurance companies require a representative of the dealership be in the truck during any movement. That may not be a service they can provide. Dealers normally have the title on property for immediate release to the buyer. Dealers have insurance to protect you and themselves if an issue arises with a title transfer. Dealers also normally provide some type of a “drive away” permit to allow the legal transportation of the truck until you have the registration transfer completed. Dealers have a substantial overhead with insurance, the cost of the actual site, having truck brought to the dealership so you don’t have to pay for shipping, employees, and the list goes on. Be prepared to invest a little more, but realize that money is also paying for a lot of convenience, ability to inspect, ability perhaps to obtain funding through a dealer approved lender, and in most cases better condition of the truck than other sources.


Overall Condition — mileage, tires, body, paint, interior condition, oil spots on driveway, operation of any additional equipment. You can easily replace things like tires, look for more serious issues.

Mileage — Is it a high mileage truck? Don’t fall for the “low miles for year” game. 400,000 miles on any truck is significant. Is the mileage higher or lower than the others you looked at? Remember, you are buying anticipated future service. Higher mileage simply means earlier replacement down the road.

Location — Where is the truck? Do you need to invest fuel and a long time just to look at it? What about getting it home? Are you confident it is going to be what you hope it is after the long trip?

Appearance — Whereas appearance does not necessarily mean condition, it can be a good measure. If the interior is super clean, it was probably a “one man” truck with a dedicated driver that took care of it. If it looks like the Tasmanian Devil lived in it, the oil has probably never been checked. Does the appearance reflect the character of your company?

Price — Have you done online comparative pricing if trucks as similar as possible? Sites like Commercial Truck Trader, My Little Salesman, ETC are a great source. You will need to add and subtract depending on the conditions, ETC. If the truck is a highly sought after, hard to find, or unique in some way, pricing will likely be higher and much firmer. Price is very important, but having the right truck that fits your needs and expectations carries a lot of value. When you find that right truck, remember you are probably not the only one lookin at it. Try to make your decision in a timely manner.

HD TRUCKS & EQUIP LLC in Henderson, Tennessee is available to assist you in your purchases. Reach them at (731) 435-1605 or

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