The pros and cons of used fleet vehicles

Graham Wood 10/04/2019 Vehicle Management

Something old, something borrowed or something new? Where fleet management is concerned, the decision on whether to go with used fleet vehicles or buy new ones can be a tricky one.

There are number of factors which will dictate, or perhaps let’s say guide, your decision. Your type of business is important for a start. For example, it may be in your best interests to choose an alternative path, such as a ‘Grey fleet’. This is where you co-own your vehicles with your employees or another business on contract. In this situation you need to carefully consider your fleet ownership costs.

In any case, whether you’re starting your business and building your fleet from scratch, or you have a few vehicles and just need to add more to your pool, you will need to weigh up buying new or used fleet vehicles. One thing is certain. Building a fleet or replacing fleet vehicles is not a task to be taken lightly.

How do you make the right decision? Well, every business is unique and it will depend heavily on the type of industry you are in. There are some general guidelines to follow, however, and advantages to each option. We’ve tried to compile the main pros and cons of buying used fleet vehicles. The latter is a good option for those who are super cost-conscious.

Used fleet vehicles: where do you start?

Going for new or used fleet vehicles, as mentioned, is not an easy decision. There are many factors to consider and priorities to balance. Here are the main aspects that we believe are the most important:

Cost/Financials

Your budget

If you are aiming to run a fleet on a low budget or do not have the possibility to invest a lot of capital and/or loans on new vehicles, then used fleet vehicles will be a God-send. You will save a lot of money buying used vs. new, that is a given. If you have the financial backing to buy new, then you should buy new.

Price range for used vs. new vehicles in the market

Obviously this plays a major role in your buying strategy. It’s a no-brainer that typically the situation will favor used fleet vehicles over new ones. More specifically, going for a cost-effective solution gives you the opportunity to have a smooth start (for a new business). And even if you’re intending to replace a large number of fleet vehicles, then again, you should go for used fleet vehicles. Conversely, if you’re just refreshing your fleet with a vehicle or two, then - depending on the age of the bulk of your fleet vehicles, it may be more worthwhile bringing in a couple of new ones.

Maintenance costs

It’s a given that even in cases where used fleet vehicles have been well-maintained and everything has been documented, they can still have more wear and tear compared to an average vehicle, and definitely vs. a new vehicle. This is reason enough for many fleet managers to steer clear from used fleet vehicles. But don’t be put off. As long as your mechanic - or an authorized third party mechanic if you do not have one - has given the vehicle in question a thorough check, it will be a sound investment.

Training and learning curve

Training. This aspect comes into play when you are thinking of renewing your fleet. You have to weigh up the costs of buying new fleet vehicles, and the training and learning curve needed from your drivers to master any new technology. They may have to adapt their driving habits, as well as learn some new ways to handle the maintenance of the vehicle. In this respect, perhaps getting used fleet vehicles with the same technology is better. Especially if the new technology in question does not make a huge difference to your everyday efficiency as a business.

Final verdict…

There’s no doubt that you can get great deals on used fleet vehicles. The key is that in order to make sure you benefit from the cost-savings, you need to check very carefully its history, as well as test drive it, and have it inspected by a qualified mechanic.

This may all seem obvious but it’s easy to forget if you have a great deal on the table and you are in need of vehicles at a cheaper price. In terms of a final verdict, it’s fine to go with used fleet vehicles. Just make sure you do your due diligence and protect your investment.