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New Truck Driver’s Guide to Buying a Used Semi-Trailer

Semi Service April 30, 2020

When you’re in the market for a new semi-trailer, sometimes “new to you” is the best way to go. Used semi-trailers are a popular way to upgrade, expand your potential business or even get started with your first trailer after finishing your CDL. But buying a used semi-trailer can be daunting at first – especially if you’ve never done it before. 

Read on to discover our guide to buying used trailers for your semi-truck. 

Assess Your Needs 

There are a lot of choices in used semi-trailers, and not all of them will be compatible with what you need. You can find all types of semi trailers like: 

  • Dumps & Hoppers 
  • Lowboy Trailers 
  • Traveling Axles 
  • Flat Bed Trailers 
  • Drop Deck Trailers 
  • Vans & Reefers 
  • Tank Trailers 

When searching for a used trailer, start your search by narrowing down the types of trailers that are applicable to you. If you’re new to trucking, it’s important to remember that the type of trailer you buy has a big effect on the type of work you’ll be doing and the opportunities available to you!

From there, consider your truck. Not every trailer will be compatible with every semi-truck. It’s important to know what your vehicle can tow! 

Plan a Budget 

The second most important part of buying a used semi-trailer is establishing a reasonable budget. Fortunately, used semi-trailers can earn you big savings over new ones, so your budget is often a lot more flexible! 

Consider variables in your budget. Are you willing to pay more for a newer trailer? Are there features you need? Are there features you want but are negotiable? All these things play a role in your final decision. 

Don’t shy away from a trailer that’s a bit more expensive if it comes with features that improve your ability to drive. Air-ride suspension, a flawless interior and other factors may affect the cost but are often worth it in the long run! 

Do a Thorough Inspection 

When you finally found the trailer you think is right for you, it’s time to do your due diligence to make sure it’s up the quality you want. There are a lot of parts to any used semi-trailer, so it’s important not to skip over the details. Your inspection should include: 

  • Under the Trailer – Use a flashlight if you need to and get underneath the trailer. Look for signs of damage, including things like fresh welds. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, note it and be sure to bring it up with the dealer or seller. 
  • Lights – Reliable lights are important. Check the brake lights and signals. You’ll also want to look for signs of potential wiring issues, like fraying. 
  • Brakes – Few things are as important on any vehicle than the brakes. You should inspect them to look for physical problems, and also check the wiring for the ABS. 
  • Tires – A visual inspection can tell you a lot about tires, including things like tread wear and the state of the wheels. 
  • Suspension – It’s important that the suspension components are properly maintained, so your inspection should include looking over the suspension for signs of breaks or cracks. 
  • Coupler – When it comes to the coupler and kingpin, you can never be too careful! Check for signs that the kingpin may be bent. 
  • Interior – For tank trailers, reefers and dry vans, the interior is important to ensure your vehicle is suitable for hauling. Look for signs of light intrusion, which may suggest sealing issues, and don’t forget to check that the interior floor is stable and rust-free! 

Ask Questions 

There’s no such thing as being too thorough when it comes to verifying that your used semi-trailer is up to your standards. Any reputable seller will be more than happy to discuss all the details of your potential purchase – including service history and more. 

It’s often a good idea to write down a list of questions. You may be able to answer many of them yourself with an inspection of the trailer, but if some are left unanswered, take the time to go through them. You should feel confident when you purchase your used semi-trailer that you did everything you could to make sure you purchased the best trailer for your needs! 

Customization Can Help 

If you’re happy with your used semi-trailer but want a little more, keep in mind that you can always have custom work done to your specifications. Semi Service techs are experienced when it comes to custom jobs for trailers of all types – from tanks to dry vans. If you find a great deal on a used semi-trailer, you can invest your remaining budget into custom work that can make it perfect for you! 

Contact Semi Service Today 

We service, repair, install, and upfit all types of trucks, vans, and trailers. Don’t know where to start? We can answer your questions and help you find what you need. Contact us online or give us a call at (801) 895-4419 to get started today! 

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