Buying A Semi-Trailer Truck With An Overhauled Engine? Here's What You'll Need To Know

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Buying A Semi-Trailer Truck With An Overhauled Engine? Here's What You'll Need To Know

12 August 2015
 Categories: Automotive, Articles

As any long-haul trucker knows, the miles can definitely add up on a used semi-trailer truck. It's not out of the ordinary for a modern semitrailer truck to accumulate 100,000 or more miles in a single year. Inevitably, many of the used trucks you'll find on the lot may have undergone an engine overhaul after several hundred thousand miles of service. So that begs the question: is it worth it to buy a semi-trailer truck whose engine was overhauled not too long ago?

What Goes Into an Engine Overhaul?

When it comes to durability, the average semi-trailer truck engine trounces the typical automobile engine. Whereas most cars can get upwards to 300,000 out of an engine with meticulous maintenance, a semi truck engine can go upwards to 1,000,000 miles before it needs to be overhauled – but it will need to be overhauled sooner or later.

So what goes into an overhaul? Most overhauls focus on refurbishing or even replacing components most prone to wear and tear over the course of a million-mile journey, such as the pistons, main bearings and rod bearings. The engine also receives new cylinder liners, rocker arm assemblies, connecting rods and new gaskets for the cylinder head and valve cover. The engine may also get a new turbocharger, intercooler and an assortment of other related parts.

These parts usually come as part of an overhaul kit. The size of the kit usually depends on the level of overhauling that's needed. The previous owner may even take this opportunity to upgrade various engine components for greater performance and reliability. Most overhauls are done in-frame, meaning that the engine remains attached to the truck's frame while the work is being done.

Quality Depends on the Rebuilder

When it comes to a semi-trailer truck that's been overhauled by the manufacturer or experienced specialists affiliated with the manufacturer, you'll can pretty much expect a relatively high-quality job using the best available parts and expertise. In most cases, you can rely on these engines to last for hundreds of thousands of miles before they need another rebuild.

There's also another advantage to an engine that's been overhauled by the manufacturer – you'll get to benefit from the manufacturer's own extended engine coverage, on the condition that the warranty is transferable to you, the new owner.

On the other hand, an overhaul performed by an independent shop is more of an unknown quantity. The quality of the job can fluctuate wildly among independents and there are too many variables to account for to get a definite answer. As the new owner, unfortunately, you may have little to no knowledge of these variables.

So how will you know where the engine was last overhauled? Start by checking the paperwork. Any owner with a few miles under his or her belt will keep detailed records of their semi-trailer truck maintenance. Before you buy, take a good look at the maintenance records – this will give you an idea of how well the overhaul will hold up while the truck's under your care.

To Buy or Not to Buy...

There's nothing wrong with buying a semi-trailer truck that's been overhauled during its lifespan, as long as the job was done correctly and the service records provide the necessary proof. If the overhaul was of relatively high quality and the previous owner opted for some performance and durability upgrades, you'll have yourself a semi-trailer truck that performs close to or even better than new.

The only time you shouldn't buy is if the service records are missing or if there are clear indications that something's amiss with the engine, such as oil leaks, coolant leaks, engine knocking or excess smoke, just to name a few. Check out company sites like for used trucks for sale in your area.