Rebuilt Peterbilt trucks: why buy, what pay attention to, how to secure
Purchasing rebuilt Peterbilt trucks is a normal practice among truckers for a number of reasons we'll cover below. A rebuilt Peterbuilt may be a good choice if you have experience with trucks and know how to do some repairs on your own. For any trucker it is critically important to know what specifically the newly pruchased truck will be used for: the type of work the Peterbilt will be doing and the best engine and driveline specs for those needs. That elimitates a lot of trouble and the need for extra repairs down the road and saves $$. A truck with specs not suiting your needs may turn into an utter loss, even if does not have mechanical issues at the moment of purchase. This is actually another point why altering or rebuilding trucks to their needs is a common practice among truckers. Some of such Peterbilts get a rebuilt status after that.
As with any vehicle types, a rebuilt or salvage Peterbilt is primarily a good buy for those who have been in the trucking business for years, have owned a number or turcks and have experience in determining the value and repairing them. Particularly, if those were older non-computerized trucks.
Reasons to buy an older rebuilt Peterbilt
Price considerations is the reason #1, of course: very high cost of new turcks and the fact that price difference between a new truck or a rebuilt one exceeds that difference with cars manyfold. Older Peterbilts, like year 1990 and older can be purchased for less than $10,000
It is nearly impossible for most new Peterbilt owners or operators to work on their own trucks because they have computerized equipment and systems. This equipment in its turn requires special equipment and personnel qualification to be diagnozed or fixed. This fact also decreases the number of rebuilders and truckers to hire so the owner is limited to a small number of expensive shops. The hourly rates for such rebuilders may start from $120/hour. And yet, even a new truck needs repairs so not just start-up truckers but most small trucking businesses cannot afford a new Pete. With older trucks there is no problem of that sort, an average truck rebuilder can do the job.
Older Peterbilts have longer exploitaion history and a solid load of knowledge on which parts serve better, repair practics and so on. Fuel efficiency, emissions and other.
Many rebuilt trucks are older trucks manufactured before 2004. Such trucks are relatively easy to repair and maintain, cost of equipment is lower. Older trucks are simple enough for the owner to learn a few things on their own. An trucker himself can do many jobs, repairs and replacements on this own.
An minimal financing contract for a new Peterbilt is 5 years and no business can plan that far ahead.
- Older Petes have a larger choice of replacement parts, engine / transmittion replacement options,particualrly for 359 and 379 models. These parts being quite costly all by themselves, having multiple replacement options which eases the process of finding suitable parts and lowers the cost. Standart Peterbilt 379 engine options are: Caterpillar (C11, C12, C13, C16, C15, C156NZ, 3406C, 3406E), Detroit Diesel (Series 60 12.7), Cummins (ISX, N14, ISM). Due to this flexibility, 379 remains the most popular model.
- Generally, truck repair shops are not so numerous as for cars, the buniness is smaller so the rebuildrer's reputaion is more tansparent
Like any rebuilt title vehicle a Peterbilt needs extra precautions. Below are a few things to know if you are considering a rebuilt Pete truck.
Why checking the history of any Peterbilt is so necessay?
Replacing any part on a Peterbilt won't be cheap and that will be downtime for your truck's and so for your business. So you want to know as much as possible of that Peterbilt before you buy it. Being a life-saver from price and repair viewpoit, older Peterbilts have one disadvantage: most of them are unable to get full coverage. While a 25-year-old Peterbilt is a normal working truck and a most comfortable and familiar environment for many truckers, you will only get a liability coverage for it. This means that fixing any damage is up to and upon the owner. Which, in its turn, means that even in case of a serious damage the title may remain unaffected and the truck won't get a total loss and then rebuilt status. For this reason finding an additional accident or damage record in the VIN history of a truck you are buying may help you negotiate the price or move on to the next truck on your list.
Don't save on pre-purchase inspection!
If this is your first truck, pre-purchase inspection by an independent truck expert is an absolute must. It makes no sense trying to grudge a few hundreds when you are trying to save tens of thousands in purchase price and prevent losing those tens of thousands on repairs. For instance, an engine overhaul may cost as much as $40,000. As prices differ manyfold, so do your savings and potential losses when you opt for a rebuilt Peterbilt.
When a Peterbilt may get a rebuilt status
Generally, the rules for totaling and then assigning rebuilt status to vehicles are the same. But there are some points specific to Peterbilt turcks.
Engine replacement does not total a truck!
Engine replacement alone does not necessary result in a rebuilt status for the truck*! And this is a normal practice for Peterbilts. Search for another reason for the branded title if the truck has one. There might be either a damage or a major reconstruction. If you buy a rebuilt Peterbilt 359 with a replaced engine, pay attention to what eingine and transmission it has. You will need this information when registering the vehicle and getting a title. You state DMV may have very specific rule on using engines not originally desgined for a specific vehicles.
Customizing a truck
Sometimes truckers make alterations to Peterbilts to customize them to their needs so that the turck does a better job and less prone to wear and breakage. A significantly altered truck may also require a rebuilt / reconstructed title and this title will remain permanently, like in the next case.
Frame stretching is often done on Peterbilt semitrucks. Such trucks also have a rebuilt / reconstructed titles because the original construction has been altered, the original frame is cut and so its integrity and rigidness is questioned. These Petes may have no damage in their history, just frame extension. Make sure the cut spots are not opposite each other and frame liners are used to strengthen the spot of cutting or the frame is doubled it that place which is typically behind motor mounts.
Unlike a common car with a unibody, a Peterbilt has a rigid frame less prone to distortion in accidents. However, a bent frame may cause a lot of trouble of other nature, like alignment, uneven tyre wear which is critical for vehicles with hevay load. Frame damage is a frequent reason why older Peterbilts are written off because with many other damage types the vehicle cost outweighs other repair costs for non-severe damage even on 10-year-old trucks. Trucks with a damaged frame pull on one side, especially when driven down the road or produce strange noises. All this means increased wear and a safety issue.
Many Peterbilt owners report that repairing a frame damage or straightening and reinforcing the frame successfully fixes all of the above troubles for years. As the frame is not a unibody construction, the damage does not affect all part alignment and positioning a well as the vehicle safety features depenent on precisely calibrated crumple zones, like it is with cars. There are no crumple zones here and the frame construction is relatively simple.
If the history of a rebuilt salvage Peretbilt reveals frame damage make sure the frame was straightened properly and its rigidness didn't suffer much and it was reinforced in the bent section. Frame check requires specialized diagnostic tools.
In certain cases, entire damaged sections in a frame may be replaced or the frame may be reinforced in the bent section. Otherwise, you will have to do these repairs at your own cost later on if you don't spot a frame issue before purchasing. Please note that frame repair is not just costly but also may take a lot of time becase the number of facilites having proper equipment for fixing frames is not so large, and all that time your Pete truck will be out of business.
Water/ Flood damage.
Water/ Flood damage is known to be the worst damage type and rebuilt vehicles with this damage type should be avoided as is causes unexpected issues in electirc systems and corrosion. On modern computerized Peterbilts a flood damage in a history is the biggest red flag because even a normal computerized Pete may cost the owner a fortune in repairs and servicing. On olders Petes the problems with electic equipment is less severe. In addition, 359 and 379 models have many aluminium parts which are less prone to corrosion. But also note that the 359 originally had issies with electic systems. Water damage is more critical for newer turcks. An old Peterbilt will give you less trouble and surprises if you risk to buy a truck resoted after water damage.