Buying A Used Day Cab Truck? Here's What You'll Need To Know

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If you're in the market for a used semi-truck but don't have any plans to haul cross-country, then buying a semi-truck equipped with a sleeper might be overkill. Instead, a day cab semi-truck may fit your local hauling needs better. If you want to know what to look for in a used day cab truck, you'll definitely want to check out the following.

What Day Cabs Offer Over Sleeper Cabs

One of the most notable features of a day cab truck is what it doesn't come with -- a sleeper berth. Taking the sleeper berth out of the equation offers a few advantages you might not get by choosing a truck with a sleeper cab:

  • Better fuel efficiency - Most day cab trucks have a lighter chassis than their sleeper-equipped counterparts, giving them the edge in terms of fuel economy.
  • Better maneuverability - The reduced chassis length of a day cab makes it more maneuverable in heavy traffic, especially when hauling short trailers.
  • Greater visibility - Many day cabs feature a rear window, giving drivers better visibility when hooking up loads.
  • Lower mileage - Since most day cabs don't stray as far from the warehouse as their sleeper-equipped brethren, used day cabs don't rack up as much mileage as sleeper cabs of similar age and condition.

Most used day cabs also offer better affordability than their sleeper-equipped counterparts. According to NADA, a typical 4- to 5-year-old sleeper cab semi truck commands 6% more money than a day cab of the same vintage. Given this information, a 2010 to 2012 vintage day cab offers a better value for used buyers.

Single Axle or Tandem Axle?

Aside from engine and transmission choices, another major choice you'll need to make involves choosing between a single axle and tandem axle configuration. Both axle setups have their own advantages and disadvantages to consider:

  • Single axle day cabs are lighter and more maneuverable than similarly equipped tandem axle trucks. The deletion of the second rear axle also means reduced maintenance costs. However, a single axle may limit the weight and type of trailer loads you'll be able to haul. Some drivers may find the handling to be less confidence-inspiring than a similar tandem axle truck.
  • Tandem axle day cabs are able to haul heavier loads than their single axle counterparts. These trucks also offer a smoother, more controllable ride than most single axle trucks. However, the additional rear axle may increase maintenance costs and hurt overall fuel economy to a small extent.

While most tandem axle day cab trucks are set up with the engine powering both rear axles, some trucks may feature a 6x2 drivetrain configuration (also known as a dead axle tandem system). With this configuration, only one of the rear tandem axles is powered by the engine with the non-powered axle acting as the tag axle. While this configuration offers improved fuel economy, lower weight, and lower maintenance costs, drivers may also see increased tire wear as well as traction loss on some terrain.

What to Look Out For

As you shop for your next day cab truck, be sure to check for the following:

  • Wear and tear - Check for signs of body damage, including obvious re-spray and filler work. To avoid missing anything, make it a point to inspect the truck in daylight and outdoors.
  • Service records - Make sure the truck has all of its service records accounted for.
  • Oil and other fluids - In addition to checking the truck's fluid levels, don't forget to check the condition of the fluid.
  • Rust and corrosion - Look carefully for signs of structural rust on the chassis as well as the bodywork. Raised bubbles in the paint are a common sign of rust.

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