Refrigerated box trucks are more commonly known as fridge trucks, although this does not cover those that have to deliver frozen goods – these are technically ‘Freezer Trucks’ although no one ever uses that term.
More common is to have dual compartments where a truck operator can have one section for chilled goods and behind an insulated partition use the other section for frozen goods.
You will often see this type of configuration in the home shopping delivery vehicles that have ambient, chilled and frozen sections.
Great care must be taken when buying a used refrigerated box truck, as the chances are you will be carrying foodstuffs and therefore will need to be mindful of any potential contamination of the fridge body in its first life.
As with buying any used truck it is important to not just check the driveline and cab out, the condition of the body is paramount. Check for sign of earlier damage on the sides and even to the roof of the body, in case it has had a disagreement with a tree or similar. If there have been any repairs, then check the quality of the work here. Does the floor look like it has been getting wet over a period of time? If so, then check the surrounding roof and sides for evidence of damage.
Important with a fridge truck is to give it the ‘nose test’. A good whiff when first opening the doors should indicate what it had carried and whether there is any contamination to the insulated lining of the body or flooring. Ask the truck dealer or the truck operator selling the fridge truck what the truck has carried in a previous life.
The type and umber of doors on the insulated body will depend on the type of work you will be carrying out. If the truck only ever gets loaded and unloaded once each way from a loading bay, then a roller shutter will be ideal. However, if the fridge truck is needed for multi drop work, then it is best to make a door available as small as possible to carry out the unloading required. Remember that this may often be at the roadside, delivering to convenience stores, so a side loading door will offer the driver additional safety rather than working at the rear of the truck.
Many trucks are available with triple hinged doors, so the driver does not need to open a huge barn door which would let all the cold air out.
Once you’ve checked the physical body over, then time to take a look at the fridge unit. Check the operating hours on the clock, then start the engine – ideally from cold. These engines require maintenance like all other engines, although an operator may choose to scrip on this side of the servicing if times are tough. Check with the seller if there is any servicing history related to the fridge unit.
Leave the motor running for a while and check the temperature drop. If it takes too long, it may indicate here is an issue.
There are a few manufacturers of refrigerated units for trucks, some brands – like the trucks themselves – are worth more in the resale market. Carrier and Thermoking are the two main brands that fridge truck buyers are looking for, although UK based Hubbard and sister company, the Italy-based manufacturer Zanotti (both owned by Japanese Daikin), French manufacturer Lamberet also sell in the UK market.
If the truck has the ability to be plugged in overnight to keep the temperature down, then this needs to be checked as well. After testing the motor, turn it off and not the temperature. Switch over to standby mode and check the temperatures – they should continue to fall.
Whilst you may not have to have a temperature recorder fitted to your truck, a used fridge truck will be more valuable with one. These gadgets keep a log of the temperature throughout the day to guarantee an audit trail for perishable items that need to be kept below a certain temperature.
Having one fitted will give you peace of mind as well as enhancing the resale value of the truck should you need to sell again – or if you gain a contract that specifies that a recording device is fitted.
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