4 Tips for Buying a Semi-Trailer
#1: Ask Lots of QuestionsPurchasing a trailer is a major investment for your business, so the more information you can get the better. A reputable seller will be happy to answer any questions you have. Here are a few things to be sure and find out:
- Is the seller an independent owner or broker?
- Why did the owner decide to sell?
- Is the seller seeking to upgrade to a newer truck or trailer?
- Were there technical issues with the trailer?
- Has the trailer had any mechanical problems?
#2: Get DocumentationYou shouldn’t have to take the seller’s word for it when asking important questions. He or she should be able to provide a complete and accurate record of the trailer’s history. For example, Pedigree provides detailed records on every trailer available for purchase.
- The trailer should have a current safety inspection.
- Ask to see a complete service record. It should include regularly scheduled maintenance and unexpected repairs. This will give you a sense of the trailer’s overall performance and maintenance issues likely to appear in the future.
- Find out if the trailer has been involved in any traffic accidents or suffered damage from other causes.
- Verify the correct VIN number.
#3: Inspect Structural ComponentsTake the time to inspect the trailer closely. You might enlist the help of an experienced mechanic who knows what to look for.
- Check for rust. While some surface rust can be corrected with proper care and simple maintenance, structural rust could lead to higher maintenance costs, more downtime and a shorter service life for the trailer.
- Check for structural damage. Use a flashlight to inspectunderneath the trailer. Be sure the slider rails are securely welded to the cross members. Look for cracks, irregularities, or fresh welds that could indicate recent major repairs. If anything looks odd to you, ask the seller to provide details in writing.
- Make sure openings are properly sealed. If you’re purchasing a reefer trailer, it must be able to protect any perishable cargo you’re carrying and to give you optimal energy usage. Inspect the reefer from the inside with all openings closed, and check the door seals, ceiling, floor, and sides. If you can see daylight coming through, then repairs are needed to ensure the reefer will give you a good return on the money you’re spending.
- Check the lights. Make sure brake lights, signals, and electrical connections are in good working order. Check all wiring for fraying or other damage.
- Check the brakes. Have drums and linings inspected, make sure the anti-lock braking system ABS is working, and that wires are not frayed or cut.
- Check the tires. Tire problems could be just a matter of repairing the tires themselves or could indicate mechanical problems elsewhere on the trailer. Look for irregularities such as tread, embedded objects, and bulges. Worn tires could be caused by problems with the axle, wheels, rims, brake drums, hubs, or shocks. On the other hand, worn-out or improperly inflated tires can contribute to mechanical issues such as axle misalignment, broken suspension, and bad shocks.