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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

6 things you should know before buying a used truck


If you are looking to buy a used truck for the first time, there are several things you should know prior to purchasing the truck. Many 1st time truck buyers make the common mistake of buying a truck without getting it inspected by a mechanic. However, not everyone has easy access to a mechanic. Most of the time mechanics have too much work and aren't able to take the time to go and inspect a truck for you, even if you pay them. I've come up with a list to help you determine the condition of a truck before you buy it. This is the system that I've always used to buy my trucks. Keep in mind that even if you take it to a mechanic, certain things may pop up unexpected, and this is just a list for you to minimize the risk and make an informed decision.

1. Always check fluid levels before turning the truck on. Make sure the oil is at max level, and that it shows no signs of water( brownish sludge) or metal shavings ( needs serious engine work). You have to check the oil before turning the tuck on because if you do it afterward, you may not be able to see if the oil is contaminated or not. Also check the coolant level, check to see if it is leveled out, and no oil in the water. This can help to determine if the truck has ever been overheated or not. Trucks have a long engine life, and drive for hundreds of thousands of miles. So you will never know if it has ever overheated, but if has happened, you will be able to tell if you see reddish residue on the radiator of engine block, transmission oil and differential oil.

2.  Like all vehicles, its also very important to check the brakes and tires. When I buy trucks, I love it when they have virgen tires at 90% tread, and 90% brakes! It just makes my job easier, and the truck pretty much sells on its own. Its a tremendous advantage for the customer when they can save $5000-6000 dollars on tires. But when they don't have "new" brakes and tires, its usually a good idea to buy something with at least 50% of tread on tires and 50% brakes as well. Sometimes when you are looking at trucks, you will see some with Retread tires as well, some fairly new if not new, and some with very little tread. Some people are not fond of retreads, but what I've seen over the years, is that it all comes down to maintenance. You can have retreads last a long time, and some don't last at all. I just depends on how the previous owner drove the tires, and this goes to virgens as well. You need to have the proper inflation, proper speed, loads. time of day. So many factors come into play with tire and brake maintenance and use. 

3. Make sure all the lights work, headlights, hi lights, brake and stop lights. 

4. The frame should be straight, and free of any cracks or welds that can damage the integrity of the frame. Beware of aluminum frames. Of all the trucks I've bought, only about 2 or 3 trucks have had an aluminum frame. I'm not even sure if its worth mentioning, but FYI. They tend to be much weaker than steel frames. 

5. Now its time to get inside the truck and turn the key. Check all the gauges, dashboard switches, a/c, and radio. When checking the gauges, look at the oil pressure gauge, depending on the engine make, you should see the pressure ranging from 30psi to 60psi is normal. Cummins engines usually are at 30-40psi, cats should be around 60psi and detroits are somewhere in between. Wait for the truck to warm up and fully charge the air tanks. The battery voltage should be around 12-13 volts, the engine temp will probobly be cold, since you just turned it on. So if you see it nearing 200-210 degrees, you should probably run away from that deal. It could be just the thermostat, but chances are that it has previously heated up, and it may already be damaged.  Air pressure should be ready by 90psi, or until indicator either stops making that loud annoying noise, or the light in the dashboard goes off. The amps for the batteries range from 12-14 volts, anywhere in between is good.

6. Drive the truck!
Take it for a spin, check the brakes, alignment, engine response, and transmission shifts.  You want to make sure the gears shift in smoothly, and that the shifter doesn't wobble too much. Get a feel for the clutch too, make sure the it isn't too high before letting go of of the clutch. If here the transmission grinding while the truck is running, that's probably a bad gear and it might need rebuilding. Get a feel for the truck, these trucks run smooth and strong depending on its condition.  A clean air filter and fuel filter also may affect the truck's drive. If they are dirty, it may feel as if the truck is lacking power. This is an easy fix, just buy new filters and you should be good to go.

Once you decide on a truck, its always a good idea to get all the fluids and filters changed prior to putting the truck on the road. Take it to a good service shop, and have them take care of the minor details that you may have over looked. Just as long as you have a good motor, trans, tires, and transmission is in good you shape, you should be ready to hit the road. I may have left some things out, but the basics of buying a truck and lowering the risk of buying a bad truck should be covered.