Group of Trucks

What First-Time Buyers Should Know and Consider

Looking to buy a used truck for your small business or aging fleet and don't know where to start? The experts at Penske can offer tips to help simplify the selection process so you Never Stop Moving™.

A Wide Inventory to Choose From

Prospective buyers need to think about many things when it comes to getting started, including asking themselves, "What kind of truck am I looking for?" We annually sell more than 23,000 late-model trucks in great condition to help freshen our North American fleet of more than 316,000 vehicles.

Penske Used Trucks is a leading seller of high-quality late-model used commercial trucks. Whether you're looking for a box truck, cargo van or a Class 8 truck, our wide inventory – more than 90 percent are model year 2012 or newer – is the first place to check out.

"Once you've decided on a truck that best fits your application, determining what type of specs you need is the next step," said Bob Glenn, Penske's director of remarketing.

Finding the Best Truck for Your Needs

When you've narrowed your search to which light, medium or heavy duty truck you'll need, the next step is choosing what specs you're looking for in the vehicle. Here are Glenn's checklists for each.

Light and Medium Trucks

  • Are there any weight requirements?
  • Does your vehicle require a commercial driver's license (CDL)?
  • What type of vehicle body do you need: refrigerated, standard or flatbed?
  • How many cubic feet are needed? Do you need to consider any clearance, dock high or turning radius specifications?
  • Are you seeking a gas- or diesel-powered unit? Automatic or manual transmission?
  • What are the skill sets of your drivers?

Heavy Duty Trucks

  • Do you need a day cab or a sleeper? What sleeper size is adequate?
  • Will this vehicle be for over-the-road or local hauling usage?
  • To determine the number of axles needed, do you know how much weight you plan to carry?
  • Is fuel efficiency a strong consideration?


  • What type of body configuration are you looking for (refrigerated, flatbed or dry van)?
  • Do you need a liftgate?
  • How many axles are needed? Do you know how much weight you're carrying?
  • Will your trailer need aerodynamic accessories like trailer fairings?

Working with Your Budget

Just as important as it is to find the right vehicle to do the job, it's also vital to find something that doesn't break the bank. There are many things to consider when discussing your financial options.

"Will you be financing the vehicle, or will you be paying cash?" Glenn asked. "When your budget is set, you're able to look at a variety of vehicle types. With a smaller budget, you may have to take a harder look at adjusting vehicle age and mileage."

Here are some things to think about: After hitting 100,000 miles, light duty trucks generally have three to five years of optimal run time; Glenn noted that medium duty trucks "are serviceable through 300,000 to 350,000 miles."

For heavy duty Class 8 trucks, Glenn likes to point out they likely will run reliably through the 600,000- to 750,000-mile mark.

Other truck-buying tips Glenn is able to pass on after 20 years of experience in the transportation industry:

  • Obtain maintenance history reports, so you know how the vehicle has been cared for
  • Set aside a budget for expenses like repairs
  • Work with a seller who can set you up with good finance options
  • Get the proper insurance for your vehicle (e.g., gap insurance)

Quality is Everything

Rest assured that when you're purchasing a vehicle from us, most of the vehicles undergo a pre-sale inspection that meets industry safety and mechanical standards. We use our own three-tier system to assign the condition type to each light, medium and heavy duty truck: Premium, Proven and Value. The truck's condition, mileage and age are used to determine tier assignment.

Penske Premium vehicles meet our rigorous standards, exceed DOT requirements, have passed our pre-sale inspection and offer superior value at an affordable price. Most Penske Premium vehicles have been maintained by us.

Penske Proven vehicles meet DOT requirements, have passed Penske's pre-sale inspection and offer exceptional value at a reasonable price.

Each Penske Value vehicle is sold as-is. They may need further work or repairs and, in some cases, may be used for spare parts. These vehicles offer value at a bargain price.

We also provide a three-year maintenance report on most vehicles, and buyers can purchase extended warranty options through National Truck Protection for most vehicles.

Take a look at the Penske Used Truck search app to learn more about the truck types and specs available in our extensive online inventory.