Munich - The used truck trade is moving into the fast lane, particularly for lighter vehicles weighing up to 3.5 tonnes. When business is booming, everybody benefits – including purchasers. So is this the right time to buy? In times of economic uncertainty, filling gaps in the fleet with used vehicles can be a wise move, even where heavy trucks are concerned. But excellent technical knowledge is a must if the strategy of purchasing second-hand trucks is to be successful. TÜV SÜD’s experts have listed five important tips.
Trade in used commercial vehicles in lighter weight classes is growing. In the first six months of 2014, the German Federal Motor Authority noted a year-on-year increase in vehicle re-registrations of five per cent throughout all vehicle categories, compared to the same period in 2013. When business picks up, everybody benefits – including purchasers. Georg Maschlanka from TÜV SÜD Auto Plus GmbH says, “These are good times to buy a used truck. Manufacturers have some interesting offers, even extending to premium used vehicles.”
Stay cool: Truckscout24, Mobile, Nutzfahrzeug24 – today, the majority of used trucks are bought on the Internet. The Web has the advantage of enabling prospective purchasers to gain an in-depth overview of the vehicles on offer and their prices. When searching for the perfect vehicle, scrutinise potential offers for plausibility; there is often a vast gulf between the pictures of perfection shown on the Internet and the harsh reality of the product. Many attractive offers are only there as bait for prospective customers.
Keep your eyes open: The first commandment of buying a used vehicle is never to look at it alone; always ask a specialist for assistance. First, check the vehicle documentation. Trucks should be accompanied by vehicle licence and registration papers and the most recent reports from periodic roadworthiness inspections; trucks of over 7.5 tonnes and trailers of over 10 tonnes additionally require a logbook that documents the vehicle condition throughout its life. Then compare the vehicle chassis number against the documentation – an indication to the seller that this prospective customer is armed with the necessary know-how. To gain the seller’s respect, purchasers should also note all questions and ask for corresponding proof to be produced. Honest sellers will ensure everything is above board. An essential aspect in the first inspection is a check of the general condition – paying particular attention to wear and tear on the superstructure. Are all side latches in good working order, are tarpaulins torn or showing signs of repair? Refrigeration systems are a special case; if repairs have been carried out, ensure you see hard evidence that they have been performed by a professional.
Check the vehicle systems: Brakes and tyres are the most important aspects to check. Dieter Roth, Senior Project Manager Truck Services at TÜV SÜD Auto Service GmbH, explains, “Checking brakes is best done on a test rig.” Ensure that the brake cylinders are tight and the brake levers are not worn; brake drums and discs must be smooth and free from cracks or striations. Note the thickness of the brake linings. Tyres must be free from cracks, tears or damage to the shoulders, as well as having adequate tread depth. The chassis frame should be in good condition and not rusted through. It goes without saying that the lights must work flawlessly.
Take your time on test drives: A lengthy test drive is a key part of the pre-purchase check. When the chosen vehicle is a semitrailer truck, there may even be the opportunity to test it with a trailer – the perfect chance to check out the connection system.
Get the experts in: To be on the safe side when buying a used commercial vehicle, consider bringing in expert assistance – with a check at a TÜV SÜD service centre. The specialists give the vehicle a thorough inspection and document their findings in a comprehensive test report. If the seller is unwilling to accept the professional check-up, move on to the next offer. Even if the prospective vehicle is hundreds of kilometres away, TÜV SÜD’s local experts will provide support, examine the vehicle and draw up a preliminary report.
Under the heading of “Big Things On the Move”, TÜV SÜD will present its complete portfolio of truck services at the IAA Commercial Vehicles exhibition in Hanover. At Stand G22 in Hall 13, TÜV SÜD Auto Service will offer comprehensive solutions and innovative concepts for the commercial vehicle and logistics industries.