At Expertec, we’re proud to be able to help serve you in finding the “right” used truck or van for your fleet, and, more importantly, to be able to ensure your purchase does everything you want it to do.
Let’s jump right in…
- What’s the job? This is the most critical part. What are you and your team doing, and what does that mean? Do you routinely haul heavy, like a trailer with a skid steer? How about where you’re driving. Inner city tech calls are perfect for small, nimble trucks and vans, and sometimes, even sedans or crossovers, but if you’re running hot shots to the oil sands, a one ton diesel dually, in four wheel drive, makes a lot more sense.
- Who’s riding with you? Passengers change a lot of the rules, and if you’ve got more than a couple people, you’re looking at a crew cab truck or a different setup in a work van. Not to worry, there are kits available to make even some cargo vans safe and legal for passengers, but you need to be realistic in your “usual” headcounts on the ride to the job. Don’t let vanity get in the way, think about the drive home after a long day on the job. How close do you really want to sit to your passengers?
- What do you need to get the job done? This question is always a hard one, because professionals in the trades are so used to not having what they need, they’ve often fallen into a “get it done” mode. The problem with having to “make do” is you quit enjoying the work. So take this question seriously: what tools and equipment do you need to get the job done? Ladder rack? Hydraulic liftgate? Onboard air compressor? Power inverter? Welder? If you can dream it, we can build it, so take a minute and really think about what would be nice to have, and then? Let us figure out how to help you get it there.
- What are you prepared to spend? It’s no secret that a fully loaded truck can cost nearly six figures, so understanding your budget is a critical step to addressing the purchase of a used truck or van. An important part of this process, of course, is being clear on the upgrades you’ll want to do to make the vehicle perfect for the job that needs to be done, and this is where consulting with Expertec during the purchase process can make buying used far more valuable than you ever thought.
- What’s under the hood? We’ve ALL heard it from our dads and grandpas, “Don’t buy someone else’s problems!” Modern trucks and vans are some of the most powerful and reliable powerplants ever built, but there are challenges out there. Knowing a particular manufacturer’s reputation and potential problems will help you avoid expensive repairs, but can also help you determine where your allegiances lie. Don’t forget, though, there are a variety of aftermarket (but still legitimate) warranties that can be added to late model trucks and vans to help alleviate costs – but not necessarily downtime.
This is also a great time to consider whether gas or diesel offers the best return on your investment, and how much four wheel drive (or other factory options) means to you and your business.
Don’t forget to look at the overall fit and finish, too. For a period of time, one American manufacturer had a terrible reputation for seat foam that broke down quickly, while another one had a terrible time with dashboard plastic cracking and literally falling apart. These might seem minor for a work truck, but your customers pay attention to how a vehicle looks!
- How long will the unit be in service? Closely related to the longevity of the powerplant is the overall service life of a vehicle in your fleet. We’ve all seen grain trucks and airport tow rigs that date from the sixties, still working perfectly after half a century. On the other hand, that’s not likely to happen with a work van or truck. But how long, really, will you plan to run it? This isn’t just about the mileage and the years you’ll have it, but how old is it now? How many miles are on it? This is a very important thing to consider – if you’ll be financing for, say, five years, hopefully, you plan on buying and upfitting a rig to work for the next ten. On the other hand, if you just need to pay cash for a “farm truck” to putter around the fields, just about anything that runs and has a heater is game.
- What needs to be fixed? This is always a huge Not knowing about the bad injection pump can be thousands of dollars, but if you know that ahead of time, not only can you negotiate on price, you can also create a plan to correct it. This is the same whether the challenges are mechanical or they apply to rusty rocker panels and torn seat covers. Be real with yourself, though, because purchasing a non-running truck or van almost guarantees you’ll find more things to fix once you’ve corrected the initial problem.
- Is the make and model supported by the aftermarket? While the aftermarket is filled with loads of great things, the truth is, many of the most useful upfitting items are purpose-designed to fit specific models. Don’t be surprised if, for example, a truck or van that is more than two generations old doesn’t have the selection of items that newer versions have. A great example is the GMT400 platform (1987-1999) for Chevy and GMC trucks. These trucks were (and still are) everywhere, yet things as simple as form-fitting floor mats are no longer supported by the aftermarket. Not to worry, though, because there are plenty of ladder racks, flatbeds, and service bodies that are still in production for these trucks.
- How long will it take to put your new truck or van to work? This is all about time. If you need to put the new unit on the job in a matter of days, then buying new(er) and in great condition is usually paramount. It’s still important to know what you want and to reach out to our team to determine how long an upfit is actually going to take. In many cases, we can generate results quickly, but for bigger – or more customized – projects, lead times can vary. It’s important to consider these things, especially if you’re planning on putting a new rig on the job as soon as possible.
Look, the fact is, anytime you purchase a truck or van for your business or fleet, it’s a big deal. By using this checklist, you can not only be confident about what you’re looking for, but you can guard against buying something that isn’t practical. Even more importantly, you’ll have the ability to know exactly what you can “do” with the vehicle once you’ve made the purchase.