Truck Acquisition Considerations
Acquiring trucks and
equipment has become an even more daunting challenge these days. Perhaps
the most difficult aspect of the process is trying to stay current and
informed with the accelerating pace of new technologies, innovations for
vehicle componentry and operation, and more frequent new truck and
There are a multitude of things to think out when
beginning the vehicle acquisition process. This information is intended to
assist you in defining and evaluating your purchasing decisions, so as to
make the wisest choices. After all, you are not just buying a piece of
equipment, you are investing in your organization’s business.
Decide on your expectations, and requirements for your
trucks and equipment (fuel economy, performance, durability, efficiency,
productivity, maintenance, safety, driver satisfaction and comfort, etc.)
Review your current and previous equipment specs to determine performance
and problems. Also, scrutinize maintenance and operating costs. (A
truck’s specs will influence these costs. Improper specs cause
Consider components and options that lessen the risk
of breakdowns and reduce downtime by extending service intervals and
requiring lower maintenance. Items that can be spec’d for increased
vehicle uptime include brakes, wheels, clutches, drivelines, fifth wheels,
synthetic lubes and coolants. Also look into extended service intervals.
Explore whether getting extended warranties makes
sense. Think about spec’ing components that will add value when it
comes time to sell or trade-in. Look at integrating a complete
package: a combination of truck chassis, body and related equipment.
Review your truck and equipment replacement strategy
and determine if — from an economic standpoint — it would be
better to trade-in or sell-off your vehicle more frequently or
Take advantage of equipment manufacturers’
resources. They have considerable experience with specifying trucks for all
kinds of applications and vocations and can optimize specs for your
Find a truck dealer that
wants to partner with you and provide business solutions and value-added
support services (such as spec’ing guidance, warranties, scheduled
maintenance and parts management options), rather than just sell you
truck leasing as an alternative to buying. Among the advantages of
full-service leasing: conserves cash because there is no initial investment
or down payment; costs are predictable; lease vehicles are spec’d
specifically for the intended application; scheduled maintenance, vehicle
washings, 24-hour road service, substitute vehicles and fuel tax reporting,
licensing and permitting can be included.
Calculate the feasibility of outsourcing truck
maintenance. Like leasing, contract maintenance offers some advantages,
especially with programs that help maximize fleet utilization by
encompassing services beyond equipment maintenance. For example: regular
repairs, tire maintenance, washing, emergency road service, towing and
substitute vehicles. Some programs can include licensing and permitting,
regulatory compliance and fuel tax reporting. Here again, budgeting and
forecasting are made easier because maintenance expenses are paid in equal
Search for specs, options and accessories that will improve
truck safety. Research shows that 90 percent of all driving decisions are based
on vision alone, so windshields, windows, wipers, lights and especially mirrors
are very important. The bigger the windshield, the greater the slope of the
hood and the shorter the hood itself, the better the driver’s forward
and right front view. Doors with cut-down bottom sills and/or “peep”
windows also aid visibility. Consider: Motorized and heated mirrors. They are
easier to adjust than manual mirrors and they resist snow, ice and fogging.
Accident avoidance technology and collision warning systems. Automated backup
lights and alarms.
Vision systems that use miniature video cameras
strategically placed on a vehicle’s exterior to aid in turns,
lane changes, and backing.
Light-emitting diode (LED) marker and stop/tail/turn lights. They provide
instantaneous and brighter illumination, use less power and last
longer than incan- descent lights.
Do not overlook driver ergonomics. The driver has a
critical role in achieving optimum vehicle performance. The happier and
more comfortable a driver is, the safer and more productive he will be.
Therefore, do not skimp on driver comfort and amenities. Consider such
specs and items as:
Easy and safe cab ingress and egress (wide door openings,
well- placed grab handles and well- positioned, wide, safe steps). Comfortable,
quiet, smooth- riding cab.
Good radio/entertainment systems. Tilt and telescoping steering
columns. Upgraded seats. Power window on the passenger side. Functional
layout of theinstrument panel and switches. Base acquisition decisions on total
cost of ownership rather than initial acquisition cost. BI