Semi-trailer trucks are notorious for racking up the miles. It's not unusual for a modern truck to accumulate on the order of 100,000 miles or more during a single year of operation and many used trucks have several hundred thousand miles under their belts.
After seeing this much mileage, it's not out of the ordinary for a truck to have its engine undergo a major overhaul. The following explores whether buying a semi-trailer truck with an overhauled engine could be a boon or a burden for you.
The Anatomy of an Engine Overhaul
Why do semi-trailer truck engines need overhauling in the first place? Here's a good reason: a typical truck engine can see up to 1,000,000 miles of service before needing major service, whereas a typical passenger car's engine would be lucky to hit the 500,000-mile mark with careful maintenance. There are plenty of moving parts that eventually need to be replaced or refurbished before the truck's engine is ready to tackle another million miles.
This is where an engine overhaul comes into play. A typical in-frame overhaul focuses on replacing and refurbishing internal and external engine components that are likely to have experienced severe wear and tear. These parts usually include the pistons, rod bearings, camshaft, injectors and other valvetrain components. The turbocharger may also be replaced or refurbished along with other external engine components, including the intercooler.
Most, if not all, of the parts needed for an engine overhaul are usually included in an overhaul kit. Previous owners may also take the opportunity to make engine upgrades that add a significant performance and mileage boost to the original engine.
Pros and Cons of Buying Someone Else's Overhauled Truck
There are plenty of advantages to buying a truck that's undergone a previous overhaul, especially if the overhaul was done a relatively short time ago. For starters, a quality overhauling job means that you end up with an engine capable of going several hundred thousand miles before it needs additional work. You'll also be able to enjoy the performance advantages that often come with a recently overhauled truck.
On the other hand, there's no real guarantee as to the quality of the overhauling work performed, unless said work was done by the engine manufacturer itself. An overhaul performed by an independent shop may or may not offer the same sort of quality, since it highly depends on the expertise and skill level of the mechanics tasked with the overhaul.
Records Can Make or Break Your Purchase
If you're looking at a truck whose engine was recently overhauled, it's crucial to check the paperwork it hopefully comes with. Service records can provide comprehensive insight into how well the overhaul was performed and if the truck had any maintenance issues stemming from the overhaul itself.
A high-quality engine overhaul should come with very detailed records that outline each step taken in the overhauling process. Other service records can help shed light on the truck's overall treatment under its previous owner. Incomplete records should throw up a red flag, as there may be underlying issues with the truck that are being hidden due to the lack of good records.
Don't forget to inquire about any warranties that might have come with the engine overhaul. Engine manufacturers commonly offer extended warranty coverage on engine overhauls performed by dealers and authorized service centers. Some independent shops also offer overhaul warranties, although these may be more limited than those offered by the manufacturers.
Buying an overhauled truck can end up being a bargain from a used buyer's perspective, as you'll get a truck offering like-new performance and extended longevity. However, it also pays to be careful about the quality of the overhaul performed, since that could make or break your used truck purchase. Keep all of this info in mind when looking for used mack trucks for sale.