Researching and buying commercial vehicles is a complex task. The most essential factor when purchasing trucks and vans is to acquire as much information as you can about the vehicle. Inspections are especially important for commercial vehicles, not only because they help keep you and other drivers safe, but also because violations found by the DOT can lead to fines, the loss of your driver’s license, or the vehicle being placed out-of-service.
Many buyers have a pre-purchase inspection (PPI) performed by a certified mechanic, though others perform inspections themselves. Before signing on the dotted line, here’s what you need to look for when inspecting commercial vehicles:
Engine & Transmission
Be sure to:
- Rev the engine
- Check for leaks, smoke, odd sounds, and warning lights
- Review dashboard gauges
The Body of the Vehicle
- Evidence of welding
- Integrity of the coupling devices
The Interior of the Cab
- Steering mechanisms
- Seat adjustment
- Dashboard functions
- Comfort of seat
- Visibility through the windshield
- Cleanliness of cargo/storage areas
For sleeper cabs, check the cab’s amenities.
Fluids, Air Filter, and Exhaust
Verify appropriate levels and cleanliness of:
- Engine oil
- Transmission fluid
Inspect the air filter for excessive dirt.
Observe exhaust after cold start for:
- Black smoke = too much fuel in the combustion chamber or fuel injectors are not firing properly
- Blue smoke = oil is burning somewhere in the engine
- White smoke = too little fuel is burning or there’s coolant in the combustion chamber
Tires & Brakes
- Cracks or bubbles in tires
- Uneven wear in tires (could indicate a drivetrain issue)
- Noisy brakes
- Emergency break functionality
Class & Technology Level
- Is this vehicle bigger than I’m comfortable with?
- Do I know how to drive the truck or van properly?
- Am I certified to operate this commercial vehicle?
Inspecting these six critical components of the commercial vehicle in which you’re interested is one of many steps in purchasing new or used trucks and vans. To learn more about shopping for and buying commercial vehicles, check out all of Commercial Truck Trader’s resources for buying commercial vehicles.