Purchasing a Used Dump Truck: Beginner’s Guide
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Purchasing a Used Dump Truck: Beginner’s Guide

Discover essential tips for buying a used dump truck to kickstart your new trucking business. Learn key insights to make a smart, cost-effective choice!

4 mins readDecember 20, 2023

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When you’re ready to expand your business, but you’re also looking to do so in the most cost-effective manner, you may be looking at purchasing a used dump truck to expand your capacity for transporting materials without breaking the bank.

This might seem simple enough, but it can be a harrowing experience if this is your first time shopping for a used dump truck.

So, what do you need to do to find the right dump truck for your business while also staying under budget and ensuring you get a truck that’s still in tip-top working condition?

Today, we’ll cut through all the junk and show you everything you need to know about purchasing the used dump truck that’s best suited to take your business to the next level.

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Which Used Dump Truck Is the Right Dump Truck for You?

Like other trucks and cars, dump trucks come in various shapes and sizes. When looking for the right used dump truck for your operation, it’s important to figure out in advance what kind of dump truck best fits your needs.

Below we’ve set out some pointers to help you choose the right used dump truck based on body style, weight capacity, transmission type, body material, and engine power.


1. Understanding Dump Truck Body Styles


Traditional Rectangle Dump Truck


  • Ideal for: Heavy equipment and materials
  • Examples of Loads: Construction debris (e.g., concrete, metal beams), Mining materials (e.g., rocks, ores), Landscaping boulders
  • Why It's Suitable: Strength (robust structure for heavy loads), Space (maximized volume for more material), Stability (good for unevenly distributed loads)

Half-Round Dump Truck


  • Ideal for: Lighter materials, where fuel efficiency and payload capacity are priorities
  • Examples of Loads: Agricultural products (e.g., grains, beets), Recycling materials (e.g., light scrap metal, paper), Soil and mulch (for landscaping)
  • Why It's Suitable: Weight Efficiency (carries more payload), Fuel Efficiency (cost-effective for long distances), Ease of Cleaning (materials slide out easily)

Semi-Elliptical Dump Truck


  • Ideal for: Versatile range of materials, balancing space and weight efficiency
  • Examples of Loads: Mixed construction materials, Roadwork materials (e.g., asphalt, gravel), General waste
  • Why It's Suitable: Room and Efficiency (balance of roominess and light build), Durability (suitable for mixed loads), Load Distribution (even distribution for varied materials)

Dump truck body styles

2. Weight Capacity Categories


Now let's break down the weight capacity categories of dump trucks into detailed tables for a clearer understanding:


Light-Duty Trucks (Class 1-3)


  • Capacity: Handle up to 14,000 pounds
  • Ideal For: Smaller, less demanding tasks
  • Examples of Tasks: Residential landscaping projects, Small-scale construction debris removal, Delivery of gardening supplies (e.g., soil, mulch)
  • Why It's Suitable: Maneuverability in urban or residential areas, Lower operational costs, Adequate for lighter materials and smaller volumes

Medium-Duty Trucks (Class 4-6)


  • Capacity: Handle between 14,001 and 26,000 pounds
  • Ideal For: Versatile for various tasks
  • Examples of Tasks: Municipal road maintenance (e.g., carrying asphalt for patchwork), Medium-scale construction projects, Waste management and recycling operations
  • Why It's Suitable: Balance between maneuverability and load capacity, Suitable for a broader range of materials, Good for both urban and rural settings

Heavy-Duty Trucks (Class 7-8)


  • Capacity: Handle over 26,000 pounds
  • Ideal For: The most demanding jobs
  • Examples of Tasks: Large-scale construction site work, Heavy material transport (e.g., mining, large boulders), Major infrastructure projects (e.g., highway construction)
  • Why It's Suitable: High load capacity for heavy and bulky materials, Durable for tough working conditions, Suitable for long-haul and intense operations.

Dump truck weight capacities

For a full guide on weight classes, check out our guide to hotshot weight classes and trailers.

Beyond shape and weight capacity, there are additional factors and features to keep in mind:

  • Manual vs Automatic transmission: A truck with a manual transmission provides more gear options to improve its maneuverability, while a truck with an automatic transmission is easier to drive, and a truck with integrated automated manual transmission is great for fuel efficiency.

  • Aluminuim vs Steel bodies: Dump trucks with aluminum bodies are lighter and more fuel-efficient, while trucks with steel bodies are stronger and more durable.

  • Horsepower range: Meanwhile, dump truck engines range from 300 to 600 horsepower (HP): You likely need less horsepower if you’re dealing with lighter payloads and/or flatter roads, whereas you’ll probably need more horsepower if you’re handling heavier payloads and more paths with steep inclines and grades.
Dump truck

Checklist: How to Inspect a Used Dump Truck

When purchasing a used dump truck, it pays to do some detective work to sift through any duds and to find one that still works like new. These are the most important things to check and inspect when you’re shopping for a used dump truck:


Inspection ItemDetails and Considerations
Body, Dump, and TiresInspect for cracks, rust, dents, or major repairs on the truck body.
Check dump box and liner for damage.
Note if the dump box is aluminum (lightweight, fuel-efficient) or steel (stronger, better for heavy/rough material).
Examine tires for uneven tread wear, indicating possible alignment issues.
Frames, Rails, and AxlesLook for sagging or bowing in frame rails, signs of overloading or operational issues.
Check for corrosion or wear on frame rails.
Note the presence of push axles or tag axles for weight distribution and compliance with state regulations.
Consider steerable lift axles and truck wheelbase for easier navigation.
Cab and OperationAssess the condition of the truck's cab and interior.
Check odometer for mileage and ensure all gauges, signals, and lights work.
Note if the truck has manual or automatic transmission.
Test drive for steering play and smooth operation of lifting control mechanism.
Hydraulic Lift Cylinder and ComponentsInspect lifting cylinder(s) and rod(s) for cracks, leaks, or dents.
Check the pump and reservoir tank for leaking fluid.
Test the lowering and raising of the dump box for smooth operation.
EngineIf lacking heavy equipment experience, have a qualified mechanic or knowledgeable operator inspect the engine.

Purchasing a Used Dump Truck: Beginner’s Guide
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Where do I Buy a Used Dump Truck?

Finding a supplier of used dump trucks is as easy as Googling “Where do I buy a used dump truck?”

To take the guesswork out of filtering through the results, we’ve identified some of the top suppliers of used dump trucks in the United States:


  1. Iron Planet
  2. Truck Planet
  3. Commercial Truck Trader
  4. Equipment Trader
  5. Ritchie List

Below is a list of used dump trucks on sale from Truck Planet*:


ModelYearConfigurationMileageStarting BidLocation
International 7400 Dump Truck20046x456,057 mi$15,000Ohio
Ford F-650 4x2 S/A Dump Truck20174x2 S/A38,303 mi$23,000Florida
Ford F-650 XL 4x2 S/A Dump20154x2 S/A29,879 mi$10,000Virginia
GMC 3500HD 4x2 Dump Truck20134x280,893 mi$5,000Illinois
Freightliner 6x4 T/A Dump20026x4 T/A439,508 mi$1,600Colorado
Mack CH613 6x4 Dump Truck20046x4637,823 mi$10,000Texas
Ford L8000F 6x4 T/A Dump19876x4 T/A178,083 mi$1,300Illinois
Freightliner 6x4 T/A Dump19946x4 T/A8,547 hrs$1,000Colorado
Mack R686ST 8x4 Tri/A Dump19858x4 Tri/A(unspecified)$11,000Alabama
**Listed as on the date of publication*

Good to know


Based on the information above, here’s a breakdown of patterns and observations that might be useful in making your decision when buying a used dump truck:


  1. Age vs. Price Correlation:
    • Generally, newer models (e.g., 2017 Ford F-650) have higher starting bids compared to older models (e.g., 1987 Ford L8000F).
    • Notable exceptions include the 2015 Ford F-650 XL with a relatively low starting bid for its age, which might indicate a good deal.

  1. Mileage Considerations:
    • Lower mileage often correlates with higher prices. For instance, the 2015 Ford F-650 XL with 29,879 mi is priced higher than older models with more mileage.
    • However, the high mileage of certain trucks (like the Mack CH613 with 637,823 mi) might explain their lower price despite being relatively newer.

  1. Truck Configuration:
    • The configuration (e.g., 6x4, 4x2, Tri/A) affects pricing and suitability for different tasks. For instance, 6x4 configurations are generally more robust and may command higher prices.
    • Trucks with more axles (like the Mack R686ST 8x4 Tri/A) might offer better stability and load distribution, which is reflected in their price.

  1. Geographical Location:
    • Prices can vary by location due to demand, supply, and regional use of trucks. For example, prices in Illinois for older models are comparatively lower.
    • Transportation costs from the truck’s current location to your location should also be considered.

  1. Usage and Condition:
    • Mileage isn't always the best indicator of condition. For example, the Freightliner 6x4 T/A Dump (1994) has low hours, which might suggest less wear despite its age.
    • Trucks used in harsher conditions or for heavier loads might experience more wear, affecting longevity and maintenance costs.

  1. Model-Specific Reputation:
    • Researching the reliability and common issues of specific models can provide insights. For example, certain models might be known for longevity, while others may have common issues.

  1. After-Purchase Costs:
    • Consider potential repair, maintenance, and modification costs. Older or higher-mileage trucks might require more investment after purchase.

  1. Purpose Suitability:
    • Your intended use (e.g., type of material to be transported, frequency of use, terrain) should guide your choice. For instance, a 4x2 might suffice for lighter tasks, whereas a 6x4 or 8x4 might be needed for heavier loads.

Hot shot trucking

Model: Which is Best?


Choosing the best dump truck to purchase largely depends on individual preferences and geographical factors. However, for enthusiasts of renowned trucking brands, there's a wide array of choices available. Listed below are some of the leading manufacturers known for their Heavy Duty Chassis, which are highly suitable for dump truck applications:


BrandUnique Selling Points
PeterbiltKnown for reliability and distinctive styling; offers a range of models for various applications; strong resale value and widespread service network.
KenworthRenowned for toughness and reliability; advanced technology for driver comfort and efficiency; durable construction for heavy-duty tasks.
MackSynonymous with rugged construction and durability; Mack Granite series known for power and robustness; preferred for heavy construction and mining.
InternationalWide range of trucks for medium, heavy-duty, and severe-duty applications; versatile designs and functionality; long history in the trucking industry.
FreightlinerAmerica’s most popular semi-truck brand; known for fuel efficiency and innovative design; wide range of models for various applications.
VolvoLeading global heavy truck builder; known for safety and environmental considerations; Class 8 trucks with emphasis on driver comfort, fuel efficiency, and technology; less popular in the U.S. for dump truck applications.

Takeaways

  1. Cost-Effective Expansion: Consider used dump trucks as a cost-effective way to expand your construction business's capacity for transporting materials.

  1. Understand Dump Truck Basics: Know that a dump truck is used for transporting loose materials like dirt, gravel, and demolition waste, and is different from a garbage truck.

  1. Choose the Right Body Style: Decide between traditional rectangle, half-round, or semi-elliptical dump trucks based on your specific needs for material transport, fuel efficiency, and cleaning ease.

  1. Assess Weight Capacity Needs: Determine whether light-duty, medium-duty, or heavy-duty dump trucks suit your business, considering the weight of materials you plan to transport.

  1. Consider Transmission and Body Material: Decide between manual, automatic, or automated manual transmission, and choose between aluminum (lighter, more fuel-efficient) and steel (stronger, more durable) bodies.

  1. Evaluate Engine Power Requirements: Select an engine with the appropriate horsepower range, considering your payload and terrain.

  1. Thorough Inspection Is Key: When inspecting a used dump truck, check the body, tires, frames, axles, cab, hydraulic lift cylinder, and engine thoroughly.

  1. Research and Compare Models: Investigate different models' reputations for reliability and common issues, and compare their features to find the best fit for your needs.

  1. Factor in After-Purchase Costs: Be prepared for potential additional costs in repairs, maintenance, and modifications, especially for older or higher-mileage trucks.

  1. Select the Right Brand for Your Needs: Choose a dump truck brand that aligns with your requirements, considering factors like reliability, toughness, fuel efficiency, and suitability for your specific construction tasks.

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