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14 Signs It’s Time to Sell Your Commercial Vehicle

14 Signs It's Time to Sell Your Commercial Vehicle

You’re open to selling your used truck or van, possibly to upgrade to a new unit, but you aren’t sure when it will be the right time to sell. At Commercial Truck Trader, we know a lot about selling commercial vehicles, including the importance of conducting life-cycle cost analyses and developing inventory replacement strategies. If you do choose to sell, we hope you’ll list your truck or van for sale on our nationwide marketplace – but first you need to know if the timing is right! 

Here are 14 signs that it’s time to sell your used commercial vehicle:

1. High Maintenance & Repair Costs 

Review your preventative maintenance and repair costs, including the cost pattern of what you’ve had to pay so far, the costs you know you’ll have to pay going forward, and any unscheduled costs that may come up. If those numbers seem like they will continue to increase and outweigh a vehicle’s productivity and profits, it’s better to sell sooner rather than later.

2. Old Age

According to Fleet Advantage, the average vehicle lifecycle includes flat maintenance costs in its first 3 years, a jump in costs in years 4 and 5, a return to flat costs in year 6, and another spike in year 7. Every truck or van is different of course, but you may want to consider selling your vehicle near the end of its 3rd or 6th year of service, before it hits the next spike in maintenance costs.

3. High Mileage

Not every business uses its vehicles year-round, so future repairs might be better predicted by a vehicle’s mileage. For gasoline engines, maintenance costs often start spiking after 100,000 miles. For medium duty diesel engines, maintenance costs can significantly rise after 150,000 miles. If your truck or van has a lot of miles, you may want to sell before it requires expensive repairs.

4. High Engine Hours

Non-delivery vehicles might be in operation quite a bit, but still have low mileage. For working vehicles like concrete mixer trucks and bucket trucks, engine hours can be a better indicator of their lifespan. If your vehicle has high engine hours, it may time to sell before a big breakdown occurs.

5. Poor Fuel-Efficiency

Older trucks and vans can use a whole lot of fuel. New models are more aerodynamic and fuel efficient, and can save you a lot of money in fuel costs each year. Plus, an older engine might need to be retrofitted to meet current emission regulations. If your current vehicle guzzles gas and pumps out CO2, it could be a good idea to sell and replace it with a more eco-friendly model.

6. High Soft Costs

A heavily-used vehicle might add hidden costs to your business. A worn, uncomfortable, and/or smelly cab can detract from driver performance and productivity. A scratched and dented vehicle is a poor representative of your brand to the public and could hurt potential business. Cosmetic issues can be refurbished and renovated, but that also costs money. If there are a lot of these fixes, maybe it’s time to sell and start fresh.

7. Your Needs Aren’t Being Met

It’s important to ask if your truck or van is meeting your business’s needs. Does it provide too little – or way too much – cargo space? Can it easily navigate the tight city turns or long stretches of highway that you need it to? If the answers show the vehicle isn’t meeting your current needs, you may want to sell and transition to a different vehicle.

8. Lack of Use

If you haven’t used a commercial vehicle in a long time, aren’t currently using it, and/or don’t have any upcoming contracts that would require the vehicle, it could be a sign to let it go. Consider the costs to maintain, insure, and store an idle vehicle when making your selling decision.

9. The Vehicle Still Has Resale Value

Don’t keep driving a truck or van until it’s entirely depreciated, inoperable, and only good for scrap parts. You might think you’re making the most of a purchase, but getting the full value of a vehicle includes not letting repair costs dwarf the vehicle’s profits AND making money off of its resale. Sell while you can still get something for the vehicle, which you can put towards your next purchase.

10. High Market Demand

Resale values can shift based on how in-demand vehicles are in the market. When your vehicle is in high demand, you can sell it at a higher price-tag. Keep tabs on consumer interest. If the market for used vehicles like yours heats up, you might want to sell now when you can get the best return. Different regions and industries can heat up at different times. Selling on a nationwide marketplace like Commercial Truck Trader, lets you tap into multiple markets at once.

11. Unique Truck Build

If your commercial vehicle has a complex build, you can’t risk unplanned breakdowns, since it’s difficult to quickly replace a rare vehicle. Those with unique truck builds often cycle through vehicles more routinely than those with simpler trucks. If you have a rare vehicle, ask yourself if the risk factors of vehicle downtime indicate that you should go buy a new truck and sell the used one.

12. High Turnover Benefits

Some small contractors also cycle through vehicles with high frequency, buying and selling as needs emerge. It certainly sounds nice to buy a used truck, put it to work for 6 months making you money, and then sell the unit for near the same price you paid. It’s a high-risk, high-reward strategy that works for some. Before taking this approach, really look at the financial state of your business and upcoming costs to make sure you aren’t spending unnecessarily or dangerously on vehicle turnover.

13. Other Costs Need to be Offset

We know that managing a business is tough, and hard times happen. If things get tight and you need to offset other costs, it may be time to sell your current vehicle and downsize to something cheaper. Or, in some cases, it may be reasonable to simply sell and take on fewer jobs.

14. Obsolete Safety Technology

Older vehicles may lack safety features that better protect your drivers. New trucks and vans have backup cameras, collision and lane departure alerts, and parking assistance. If you need to upgrade to increase driver safety, it’s time to sell your current truck to someone more willing to operate it.

Conclusion: If it’s the right time for you to sell your used truck or van, we hope you list your for-sale vehicle on Commercial Truck Trader’s nationwide online marketplace. From now until the end of the year, you can get 25% off your for-sale listing when you enter promo code SELL25. Happy selling!




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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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