what to look for in buying a used reefer trailer

Discussion in 'Trucks [ Eighteen Wheelers ]' started by kenwortht660, Nov 11, 2009.

  1. kenwortht660

    kenwortht660 Bobtail Member

    May 8, 2008
    Oakland, CA
    Hi all,

    I'm about to buy a cheap reefer trailer. It's a 2000 Great Dane with an old Thermoking reefer. What are some of the things that I should look for when buying a cheap used trailer?

    Because I'm still a newbie in trucking, what I am about to say is just an educated guess or just a gut instinct about the flooring. So, I might not be right. And please correct me if I'm wrong. I would guess that one of the most important thing to look out for would be the flooring. If there are major issues with the flooring, wouldn't that cost me a lot later on to fix? Should I just run away from any flooring issues? If flooring is a major issue, what would I have to look for in the flooring?

    The other thing that I understand is that the reefer is old, 19000+ engine hours, so eventually, I will have get it serviced or replace it. Also, I would have to carb it because I'm running California. The facts about the reefer I will accept and will spend some money to fix it up and maintain.

    Are there other big issues that I should be on a look out for before I buy?

    Again, thanks in advance for any advice.

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  3. Sabine in Mo

    Sabine in Mo Medium Load Member

    May 11, 2006
    Fredericktown, MO
    The following is an article out of Landline Magazine. You don't want to buy a 10 year old reefer, since you will not be able to run it in California because of Carb. Now I thought that they pushed the program a bit back, that it didn't take effect as fast as the article says, but nevertheless, if it is not in effect yet, it will be soon. Look for a newer reefer, it will save you tons of headache.

    On a side note, in 2007 and 2008 I pulled a 1998 reefer, and while it was mechanically sound, there were just too many things not quite right. Tandems where hard to slide, reefer used a lot more fuel than a newer trailer, about 20 gallons a day with produce in the box, it was about 1000 pounds heavier, the reefer was "temperamental" at times, I learned a lot more about them than I ever wanted to know.

    Good luck

    California law will require all reefers to be 2002 or newer

    Long-haulers of produce have more to worry about in California than E. coli and the expiration of cargo - their reefers could be expired as early as next year. Soon, refrigerated trailers won't be allowed in the state unless they're late models or retrofitted to create less emissions.

    The California Air Resources Board is trying to notify U.S. truck drivers of a law slated to take effect in December 2008 that won't allow reefer models from 2001 and older. The rule will continually generate tighter restrictions, including the exclusion of 2002 models by 2009 and newer models in each additional year.

    In May 2006, CARB estimated the cost of retrofitting or replacing trailers between $2,000 and $20,000.

    Retrofitting of older reefers must reduce emissions by 50 percent for 2001 and older models, and 2002 and newer trailer retrofits must reduce emissions by 85 percent. California-based trucking companies are required to register their reefers and place identification numbers on the trailers. CARB said out-of-state drivers may register their trailers as well.

    Before being implemented, the rule must be granted an exemption by the EPA from the national Clean Air Act. Exemptions from the national Clean Air Act are standard protocol, said Dimitri Stanich, a spokesman for CARB.

    "I don't think we've ever had one that they resisted," Stanich told Land Line. "The general population should act as though it's in effect."

    That's not good news for Leon Wilson, who makes produce trips to California about 15 times a year. Wilson, an OOIDA life member from Hamilton, MO, said he'll quit hauling in California if he's forced to retrofit his 2000 reefer.

    Wilson said he's one of many owner-operators who typically haul only during soft fruit season. The trailer is worth about $20,000, he said, and replacing it might cost as much as $80,000.

    "That will be a monetary issue for me that I can't surmount," Wilson told Land Line. "I won't even go out there - these reefers are so expensive."

    The reefer restriction could have a ripple effect on the trucking economy, said Wilson, who also hauls fruit regularly out of Michigan.

    "If a whole bunch of people quit running there and go to Michigan, it will mess with the market there, too," he said. "Everything's got a catch-22."

    Wilson pointed to the trend of California's emissions and environmental initiatives often being emulated by other states.

    Vermont and several other states have adopted a 2005 California law that that regulates carbon emissions. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in early April that federal Environmental Protection Agency's fuel economy standards don't trump state laws and said the federal agency must regulate greenhouse gases unless it can find scientific reasoning not to do so. "Whatever California gets, four or five years later it's across the country," Wilson said.

    Source: www.landlinemag.com
  4. Jfaulk99

    Jfaulk99 Road Train Member

    May 16, 2009
    Don't reefers tend to get heavier with age? Walls get saturated with moisture or something. Not sure I know I heard something about this, kinda ignorant when it comes to reefers. Just about the only trailer we've never owned.
  5. Allow Me.

    Allow Me. Trucker Forum STAFF Staff Member

    May 28, 2009
    Rancho Mirage, Ca.
    Kenworth t660, any trailer you buy, while it is daylight outside, get inside and close the doors and look for any daylight anywhere in the trailer. Crawl all over/under/around and through that rascal. Hook up to it and pull it around for an hour or so. Check all lights, brakes, tracking and flex. Run the unit through a cycle. P.S. Where do you park in Oakland when on home time?
  6. morph

    morph Bobtail Member

    Oct 26, 2009
    you should inspect it like you would a used vehicle, except put 3x the effort into the inspection.
    i wouldnt want a trailer with floor problems, minor ones are signs of weakining floor. get under it and check EVERY floor I beam. take a rag and clean the grease off the king pin and see if its messed up and not smooth by getting banged in a loose 5th wheel. as another said get inside on a nice bright day and close up the doors, someone you can trust to shut you in :), take your time, let eyes adjust and check the corners and seals, floor for any light. look at the tires and see if there are signs of wierd wear on them. run the reefer down to 0, depending on weather see how long it takes, after a hour or so shut it down, wait a few, check, motor, oil, look for leaks, smells inside the trailer and smells around the motor. then fire it back up. if you can test drive it, run it out on the road as the other guy said, check lights, have a friend follow you and watch to see if the lights blink on and off while drivin on a bumby road, signs of bad connection. have the person following you see how it looks as it trails behind, if its follows straight or runs off one way or the other. how does it look, does it look like someone had it took care of it? or was it treated like someone didnt care. inside and out. hows the air flow out the chute. chute condition. see if the hubs have oil or grease. if oil, after runnin it around the roads for a bit, get a flash light get under and look inside the wheel drums and look for oil leaking, if its grease your safe just have to have them packed a time or 2 a year.(thats what i do). conditions of the doors and the corners of them, do they feel flimsy or loose on the hinges. get up on the roof, see if anyones ran it under a low bridge. check the refer fuel tank, see if that has any tiny leaks, and if its attached good to the trailer with minimal corrosion to the trailer and its brackets. and when your all done doing this, come back the next day and check it over again. its like watching a movie the 2nd and 3rd time, you may catch something you overlooked the first time.
    its a pain, i know, i just bought a 2001 great dane with a sbIII on it. and between researching prices, and vistiting different trailers and narrowing them down, i spent nearly 3 weeks to decide on the one i got, take a note pad and take notes. compare prices and dont settle. you dont want to buy something that you drive home, go out on the road and have to fix. it can happen, but better to try to have the upper hand on it. also. i called around to different states to check the upgrade for carb compliant thing for ##### hole cali. i found that thermo king with replace the motor in most refers for 7500-8500, if it passes. good luck
  7. LoneCowboy

    LoneCowboy Road Train Member

    Oct 6, 2009
    morph, that was a great post.
  8. kenwortht660

    kenwortht660 Bobtail Member

    May 8, 2008
    Oakland, CA
    Thanks for the info. I really appreciate it. We have our facility in Oakland. However, I have friends that sometimes park at the truck stop on san leandro street.
  9. kenwortht660

    kenwortht660 Bobtail Member

    May 8, 2008
    Oakland, CA
    Thank you all for posting. Be safe out there.
  10. Dylan

    Dylan Bobtail Member

    Nov 24, 2009
    Boise, Id
    I hope I'm not too late..

    Stomp the floor.. make sure it is not loose, especially near the rear where the forklifts will be landing.

    Run it over a scale, like mentioned earlier, the foam will get soaked with water if there were any leaks in the kemlite or skins. Once a wall or floor is soaked, you are going to have to replace the foam to get the water out.. very costly. I've seen trailers gain hundreds to thousands of pounds.

    On the California requirements. We recently put the new motor in a 1992 t/k, it was roughly $7500 installed and the unit will be legal for 5 years.

    As with any trailer, check the brakes/electrical.
    Baack Thanks this.
  11. Trouble65

    Trouble65 Medium Load Member

    Jan 11, 2009
    Ontario Canada
    Going back a 5 months I purchased a 2002 Utility reefer with Carrier Phounix Ultra XL. One mistake that I made was not having the floor acid washed before the purchase. One day after hauling chicken I had the floor acid washed, that's when I noticed dark gray coloured spots. AsI leaned down for a closer look I noticed that it was corrosion. 2 weeks ago I had the floor washed out again without acid and found out that some of those gray spots were worn all the way through, they were actually small pin holes. To fix the problem I had to spot weld over 100 holes some big as 8th of an inch in size.

    Buying a Great Dane reefer have a close look at the floor over the rear boogies. Any sign of lines going width wise I would suggest stay away from the unit.

    Depening on what you are carrying try to buy one with a flat floor. Easier to fix and you can carry plants and flowers.
    The Challenger Thanks this.
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