Buying A Used Work Truck: What Kind Of Damage Is Acceptable?

Work trucks are expected to work hard, sometimes 7 days per week, dragging, hauling and towing heavy equipment. At times expected to go off road and on unfinished roads, work trucks perform everywhere and handle every environment.

With all that hard work and driving in harsh environments, many used trucks endure blows to their body and frame on a regular basis. While cosmetic damage is normal, vehicles that have frame damage and deep rust should be avoided. Knowing how to identify these issues can help you pick the right work truck for you.

Inspect Rusty Parts

If you see rust, poke the dents and scratches with your fingertips. The rust should not feel soft and mushy—this is an indication that the rust is much deeper than surface level. Your fingers should also not be able to poke through the rust to the other side. If the rust does feel soft and if there are holes in the body of the truck, this problem will get worse and can be expensive (or impossible) to fix. If this is the case, look for a different truck.

Identifying Frame Damage

You may see a lot of dents and scratches on the used work truck you're thinking about purchasing. You may even see large, shallow dents that indicate that the truck was involved in a low-impact accident in the past. Many of these dents will be cosmetic in nature and are really of no cause for concern. Frame damage, however, can be devastating. Look for these signs of frame damage on the truck:

  • Improper alignment that can't be fixed. When driving the truck, check to see if the truck drifts on straight roads when you take your hands off the wheel. If the alignment is wrong, insist that the seller repair the alignment before you'll buy the truck. If the seller can't fix the alignment, this is a sign that the truck has frame damage.
  • Mysterious vibrations. Harsh vibrations while driving can also be a sign of frame damage. If the truck vibrates while you drive it, have it checked by a mechanic. Don't purchase the truck without uncovering the source of the vibration.
  • Uneven appearance. Park the truck on level ground and walk around it slowly, looking at the lines of the roof, truck bed and sides of the truck. Compare horizontal edges to other horizontal edges and vertical edges to other vertical edges. Parts of the truck that seem misaligned with other parts of the truck are an indication that the frame of the truck is askew. If this is the case, the best course of action is to look for a different truck.

Following these tips will help you find a work truck that will perform to your standards and meet your needs.