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What to Know About Researching & Buying Commercial Vehicles

What to Know About Researching & Buying Commercial Vehicles

We recently held a live Facebook Q&A, where we answered real questions from real commercial vehicle shoppers about the researching and buying process. Here’s where you can watch a recording of our live Q&A. We’re also sharing some of those tips here on our blog! Recently, we reviewed what you need to know before shopping for a work truck or van. In this follow-up post, we’re taking a deep dive into the three main steps involved in searching for commercial units and making a purchase decision: 

1. Do Your Research

The time has finally come to browse and compare relevant commercial vehicles that are for sale. But where do you start? You can easily find available work trucks and vans online by visiting dealership websites and online marketplaces like On these platforms you can digitally browse listings and filter results based on the criteria that’s most important to you, like price or model. Commercial vehicle listings provide you with a number of ways to evaluate for-sale units: 

  • Photos: Images are the most straightforward way to get a good look at the work truck or van you might buy. Helpful dealers will post plenty of pictures, including every angle of the exterior and pictures of each area of the interior.
  • Videos: Even more than photos, videos give you the best idea of what the commercial vehicle will look like in “real life.” Videos can show you the truck in action, giving a rundown of its main features and upfits.
  • Specific details: Listings should include important details about the commercial vehicle, including the year, condition, mileage, cab features, upfit specs, and more.
  • Descriptions: Dealers will describe features you can find inside and outside of the truck or van, and may even list a general history of the vehicle’s past professional use.

Don’t forget to comprehensively compare listings while you’re researching. Just because a commercial vehicle in one listing seems like it could be a good fit doesn’t mean there’s not a better truck or deal out there. As you narrow down your commercial vehicle choices and get closer to making a decision, be sure to research the dealer themselves and, if you’re buying used, the history of the truck or van. You’ll be most confident in a purchase when you know you’re buying a quality unit from a trustworthy dealer, and that peace of mind is often the deciding factor when choosing between different vehicle buying options.

2. Connect with the Seller

After becoming interested in a commercial truck or van, your next step is to reach out to the dealer to learn more about the for-sale unit. This doesn’t mean you have to immediately visit a physical dealership. In today’s virtual world, there are many ways you can connect with a seller without actually going into their business. Obviously dealers can always be reached via a phone call or email,  but now many dealers will also offer texting, live chat messaging, and live video chats.

Video chats are particularly great, because they not only let you speak with the seller, they also allow you to conduct a virtual inspection of the vehicle without going to the dealership lot. Regardless if you conduct a vehicle inspection in-person or virtually, or if you have a certified mechanic or technician conduct a pre-purchase inspection (PPI) for you, there are a few key things to be sure to examine, including: 

  • Engine and transmission
  • Vehicle body
  • Cab interior
  • Fluids, air filter, and exhaust
  • Tires and brakes
  • Class and technology level

Ultimately, connecting with a dealer is all about getting the information you need to feel comfortable and confident in a purchase. When reaching out, don’t be shy! Request more photos, seek out additional details, ask questions, talk financing, make an offer, negotiate price, or communicate about anything else you think is important. Remember – the seller wants to support you and make sure you leave in the vehicle that works best for you.

3. Review Virtual Buying Options

Once you’ve decided to purchase a van or truck, depending on state laws and dealership policies, you may be able to complete most or all of the buying steps online. Check with the seller to see if virtual options are available for…

  • Signing documents to finalize the sale of the vehicle,
  • Obtaining financing (from the dealership or 3rd party), or
  • Obtaining warranties (from the dealership or 3rd party).

You can also check to see if you have to go to the dealership lot yourself, or if the truck or van can be delivered. If you’re local, a seller may bring the vehicle right to your driveway. If you’re further away, you may be able to arrange for the truck to be shipped to you. Finally, throughout the buying process, keep an eye out for indicators of scam or fraud, browse on secure sites, and be careful when sharing personal information online.

Conclusion: Congratulations! Soon you’ll be out on the road, on your way to your next jobsite or to your usual loading dock. If you’d like to take a deeper dive into researching, shopping, and purchasing commercial vehicles, don’t forget to watch the recording of our Facebook Live Q&A! And if you’re ready to jump right into browsing trucks or vans, head on over to


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Ethan Smith
Ethan Smith
is the Content Manager at Trader Interactive, managing marketing content development for ATV Trader, Commercial Truck Trader, Cycle Trader, Equipment Trader, RV Trader, and more. Ethan believes in using accessible language to elevate conversations about industry topics relevant to marketplace buyers and sellers.

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