Top five things you need to know when buying a used truck

Used white DAF XF tractor unit

What are the top five things a buyer needs to know when purchasing a used truck from a truck dealership? Commercial Motor provides some buying advice...

1. Do your homework

A quick search on the dealer wouldn’t go amiss. Take a thorough look at the dealer’s website if they have one and check if it is up to date: if not, why not? Consider how long the firm has been in business, check for good testimonials from previous customers and whether the operation looks professional. If first impressions are good, have a look at the trucks the dealer has on offer and list those that might be worth inspecting.

Make sure you know the price range you can afford, write down any questions about the vehicles you’d like see, and remember to ask those questions when you’re on site. Arrange a personal viewing at the yard for peace of mind. If you are preparing to invest a large amount of money and time into a used truck the decision needs to be made in an informed manner.  You can never have too much information to help you make the very important decision when sourcing the best truck you can.

2. Find out the basics

It’s surprising how often buyers miss checking the basics such as mileage, whether the vehicle still has an MoT or needs a new test, and finally the price. It is also worth looking through the specification provided and asking if everything is as expected.

When it comes to the history of the vehicle it is worth asking where it has been, what work it has done, check if it has ever been in an accident and whether there is any remaining finance on it. Also check whether the vehicle has main agent service records and if any major repairs have been carried out. Reputable dealers will sell most of their trucks with full and comprehensive service histories available for inspection.

Also ask what the truck’s current condition might say about it, and if it needs any immediate attention. Look at whether the tyres are all good and free from damage.

3. What is included in the deal?

Many dealers with the facilities will put used vehicles through their own workshops for a full inspection, list any defects and rectify them. If a vehicle needs an MoT the dealer should get one, and if there is time left on the MoT they will still ensure it is roadworthy so the customer can feel confident with their purchase. Ask whether the truck will be serviced and prepared to the best standards possible before collection, what condition is the truck underneath, whether it needs a clutch, and what state the brakes are in.

4. Ask about the warranty

Be protected against any unforeseen major failures. Many dealers will offer a three-month driveline warranty which covers major components including the engine, gearbox, axles and differentials. Some warranties might also include roadside assistance during that time with an optional warranty extension. Ask what protections you might get after the deal is agreed. Dealers connected to a manufacturer will sometimes offer up to a two-year used truck warranty.

5. Listen to the dealer

Be prepared to listen to the dealer and take their advice. If you have a good experience with one dealer, find them trustworthy and honest, you are likely to go back and use them again.

DVSA Earned Recognition scheme delayed

A delay in the introduction of the earned recognition scheme has raised questions about the cost and benefit to operators of handing over sensitive data to the DVSA.

The enforcement agency aimed to have set up the programme by the final quarter of the 2016/17 financial year, but it is understood to have been dogged by technical problems and delays in finding approved auditors for the application process.

There have also been concerns that earned recognition only benefits large companies at the expense of smaller operators and would not target foreign hauliers.

Earned recognition was envisaged by the DVSA as a way to target dwindling resources on operators posing the greatest risk to road safety.

Companies would be rewarded with fewer compliance checks if they gave the agency access to tachograph and maintenance data.

There was a trial last year, but the DVSA admitted another six-month pilot must take place before earned recognition is launched – potentially pushing the date back into 2018.

Sources close to the scheme said the agency is struggling with the speed at which technology is developing, especially over the past year.

“It’s not been particularly easy for the DVSA or those trying to work with it because there are challenges in what it is trying to do,” said one source.

“To be fair to it, it’s not its core business; it is an enforcement agency. The project is probably not what it originally envisaged.”

Philip Brown, the former senior traffic commissioner and now a consultant solicitor for AMD in Bristol, said it was “a great system” but that the DVSA had to overcome trust issues before earned recognition would work.

“The industry must guard against a system where providing compliance data to the DVSA leads to those whose compliance is less than 100% becoming easy targets for enforcement action, while the seriously non-compliant remain untouched,” he said.

Laura Newton, solicitor at Rothera Sharp, said the DVSA was informed at a public event last year that smaller operators would not benefit, and that the agency appeared surprised.

“The key performance indicators were fine for larger firms but for smaller businesses, it wasn’t workable,” she said.

“A single infringement or failure could see them out of scope for earned recognition for a considerable time as it is usually about percentage compliance rate. There wasn’t any option previously for different parameters for different-sized operators.

RHA policy director Jack Semple said it would continue working with the DVSA on earned recognition, but added: “The costs and benefits of the programme for the haulage industry and for road safety are unclear, as is the extent of value added over the risk rating system, OCRS.”

A DVSA spokesman denied that the scheme had been delayed, but said it did not yet have a launch date. “We want to await the outcome of the pilot.”

The spokesman added that any reference to IT suppliers in its announcements was “not about problems, but that participating operators will need to use IT suppliers to share data with the DVSA.”


>>>CM's guide to earned recognition