What makes a good used truck?

In an upcoming edition of Commercial Motor (3 October), the winners of the inaugural Used Truck Awards will be revealed. The shortlist (CM, 1 August 2013) was drawn up by a panel of experts who proved candid and unforgiving in selecting the contenders; there was little room for sentiment.

Benchmarks for the shortlist included market opinion, the technical aspect of each vehicle, residual values, a vehicle’s versatility and whether or not it was genuinely fit for purpose.

The voting is also proving frenetic with clear, but not uncatchable, leaders in each of the six categories (you can still vote, go to commercialmotor.com).

One area the panel agreed upon that was difficult to gauge was the importance of the aftermarket. Certain manufacturers have built strong networks off the back of decent marketshare, amalgamations and multi-franchising; others are more thinly spread but what is universal is location.

More operators defer maintenance to the vehicles’ manufacturer, so there is little point buying the truck of your dreams if the nearest available dealer is 40 miles away. Downtime would be horrendous, better to source a truck where back up is on the on the doorstep.

Then it becomes a question of just how good that dealer is when it comes to doing the work, supplying parts, being affordable and delivering customer service. A manufacturer’s dealer network is only as good as its weakest member.

It is now widely accepted that no one builds a bad truck these days, but what makes a good truck might have little to do with the truck itself.