Top ten points to help you choose the right truck for you.
Buying a recovery truck in the UK and Ireland can be a daunting process. It isn't as simple as buying a family car yet that is something that is often remarked upon as one of the most stressful transactions in your life. Buying a truck is much more complictated, and requires us to think long and hard about what we are doing and why. Here are a few pointers to help you.
- Work out what you need it for. If it is to be used solely for recovery, you must work within a 100 km radius and only carry disabled cars. Anything over and above or beyond this will require you to have an operators lisence.
- What do you hope to carry? The average weight of a standard family hatchback is 1750kgs. take 400kg off (as a guide only) for a small car and add the same on for a executive model. In order to carry these weight you need to take SWL (safe working load) and Pay load (legal load capacity) into consideration.
- Who is going to drive it? Drivers licenses issued in the last decade automatically entitle you to drive 3.5t gvw vehicles. If you need to drive a vehicle larger than this you need get the appropriate license.
- Beavertail or tilt and slide/slidebed? A beavertail is cheaper, but not as user friendly. If your car is damaged in any way this generally makes it harder to use a beavertail.
- What size should i get? Recovery trucks are usually made in 3.5t, 7.5t and 10 t brackets, in response to licensing restrictions. If you keep in mind that a chassis weighs on average 1780kg for a 3.5 t gvw and 3450 for a 7.5t, and that a bed that is sufficently engineered to perform its duty will weigh at least 500 kg for a 3.5t and 1750kg for a 7.5t, your figures need to add up. I would advise you NOT to buy any 3.5t tilt and slide (use a beavertail instead), instead look towards a 7.5t if you are moving standard cars and move to 10t if you expect to move weightier stuff.
- New or used? It should all come down to budget as new trucks will quickly lose value and used trucks can hide a multitude of sins. Often, middle ground is found by putting new beds onto second hand lorry's. Use Recovery Vehicles or the Irish Recovery Network to help you check out a lorry.
- What should i keep in mind? Most of the big guys are generally good. They can be a bit pushy and they will all have had something bad said about them, but the best recommendation is to talk to recent customers. Customer service is nearly as important as product and this will tell you a lot. Ask for the details of a few customers and give them a phone. Always get the quotes written, always get a few and don't listen to what the companies say about each other as some people have been known to be misleading!
- What is the basic standard? Your body needs to have LOLER certification in order for you to meet the health and safety guidelines. You will probably need to do this yourself but you will need your manufactuer to provide swl certs, lift test certs, winch details and you will need a few things on your truck like an in-cab pto buzzer, side marker tape and an emergency stop.
- Who are the main players? The main names in the uk over the last two decades have been boniface and dyson. They are the most expensive. The gap between these manufactures and the rest of the pack, in terms of quality has shrank and the main set which used to include names like TRS, Dave Bland, TRUK, Ceejay, J and J, Swinlays and Thorntons seems to have evolved into a two teir system. In Ireland the only manufacturer to meet the standards is Nugent Coachworks and they seem to be impacting greatly in the UK due to their high standards and tidy finish. They cost 10-15% less than their uk counterparts due to their geography but more people are talking about them.
- What should I look out for? Stay away from 3.5t slidebeds as they are a legal bomb waiting to happen. Look forward and put your staff on retainers to get their bigger license. In the larger market, take into account where your money is going. the price of steel has risen dramatically so some companies are cutting corners and getting cheap steel in or even cheap kits made in Asia. Also there are no end of cheap components so be careful. A standard steel remote control bodywill cost £14,500-£18,000 + Vat including paint, fitting and side skirts (£12,500 in Ireland) and anything priced cheaper is probably dubious and not certified.