"CAVEAT EMPTOR - BUYER BEWARE" Buying a horsebox can be an exciting experience, but with such large sums of money at stake it is important not to make rash decisions. Many of the mechanical checks on a horsebox are similar to those made when buying any large vehicle or lorry, but further checks on the internal design and practical elements of the box are just as important. Refurbished vehicles especially need specialist attention, to make sure the weight distribution is even and the internal box offers the best levels of safety and comfort for all concerned. When purchasing a horsebox, whether it may be new or second-hand, you should always check the lorry over for oil levels, water in the battery, water in the radiator, electrics and brakes. A road test is always advisable as it shows the purchaser the lorry controls and driving positions. Major faults will also show up and be highlighted when it is driven. Tyre pressures are also incredibly important and should thus be maintained at or within a very close tolerance of the recommended pressures. When tyres become worn or damaged they must be replaced. There should, by law, be at least 1.6mm of tread depth across the centre 3/4 of the width of the tread throughout the entire circumference of the tyre. There must be no damage to the tyre body - sidewalls or tread, no bulges or cuts. Wherever possible get a professional pre-purchase inspection. we recently heard from a lady who had an inspection on a £4750 three horse Bedford. She told the examiner that all she personally could find wrong was that the rubber around the drivers door was a little frayed and that the cab was white and the body red. The inspection showed, amongst many other items, that the body was attached to the chassis with just two bolts! Not only does the lorry need to be checked at the point of purchase, but also on a regular basis after this. Do not presume that it will be performing perfectly and will need no maintenance for a few months after the purchase date. Here are a few tips for what to look for: 1. Check the bodywork, cab floor and steps for rust. 2. Check the tyres and exhaust. They give an indication of whether the vehicle has been well looked after. 3. Search for rot and damp patches on the floor of the vehicle. 4. Make certain the ramp woodwork, hinges and balance springs are all sound and in good working order. Check that the ramp is manageable by one person. 5. Make sure when you view the vehicle that the engine is cold and has not been started before you got there. If it has, ask why. 6. Check there are no oil leaks from the engine. 7. Check the oil light does not come on when started. 8. Check engine speed and smoke emission when stationery. 9. Cab checks : * Gauges * Lights * Indicators * Wipers * Play of the steering wheel * Horn * Warning lights 10. Check wiring for the lighting in living and horse areas and make sure they run from a separate battery - not the main vehicle battery. 11. Unless you definitely want an HGV, check that the weight will not be over 7.5 tonnes when fully laden with horses, tack, feed, passengers and provisions. 12. Take your time and do not make any rash decisions - take someone with you who may spot things you won’t. The DVSA has made no secret of the fact that they intend to target overweight vehicles during the coming months and if you happen to buy anything that is overweight and get stopped, your new vehicle is virtually valueless. Recent research suggests that the majority of 7.5 tonne horseboxes over 27 feet in length are probably overweight when fully laden and horseboxes costing in excess of £20,000 are even more likely to be overweight. How can this be? In vehicles under 7.5 tonnes the “gross” weight is often fairly close to the “unladen” weight before the addition of horses or equipment. In vehicles over £20,000 most are fitted with additional equipment such as televisions, videos, a bar and other luxuries which all add to the unladen weight. In order to understand the problem we need to explain some of the technical terms used. If you would like to see and print out our 90 Point Check List (.doc) click here:-
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