Military Vehicle Govt. Auctions: Tips and Advice from Joe Young
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Dealer Prep at Joe Young Inc.

Joe Young is one of the long time military vehicle dealers who have made a business out of buying trucks and parts and taking care of all the details to put a truck into drive-off condition. For anyone thinking of bypassing the dealers and going direct to an auction, it is sobering to hear about some of Joe's experiences which he has graciously agreed to share with visitors.

cab interior of an m35a2 2 1/2 ton 6x6 cargo truck on sale by government liquidation, llc., french camp, ca, february 2007
Cab interior of an M35A2 2 1/2 ton 6X6 Cargo Truck on sale by Government, French Camp, CA, February 2007.

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Equipment Servicing and Test Procedures

First off, here is a list of what was routinely inspected and work performed at Joe Young, Inc. on every truck fresh in from an auction. Not every truck needed every replacement indicated, but all of these services and most of the replacements were typically required:

  • Lubrication & Fluids
    • Oil & oil filter change
    • Change transmission lube
    • Top off and change if needed: Diffs & transfer case
    • Lube steering gear box
    • Top off master cylinder
    • Grease chassis & U-joints
    • Replace/pack wheel bearings
    • Lube winch gear
    • Fuel conditioner
    • Lube door hinges & mechanisms
    • Lube windshield arms & levers
    • Lube cables, hinges, latches, linkages
    • Grease door window tracks
  • Replace
    • Replace faulty instruments
    • Replace fuel filters
    • Install new & correct 6TL batteries
    • Replace bad tires including spare
    • Replace soft top with military insulated vinyl
    • Replace broken/missing glass
    • Install new windshields and frames
    • Rebuild & recover seats
    • Supply spare winch shear pin
    • Replace wiper blades
  • Clean
    • Clean bed and cab
    • Clean all glass
  • Test
    • Check operation of instruments
    • Flat-out test drive & transfer test. Transfer test includes being able to shift "on-the-fly." Heavily loaded trucks being used off-road and in mountainous terrain require split-shifting.

Some of these items are quite expensive. One example, a set of tires for a "Deuce" (2 1/2 ton 6x6 truck) is eleven big, heavy tires (plus tubes and flaps) and a very demanding effort to remove the wheels, dismount and replace the rubber, and get it all back on the axles. The tire work on older military trucks is so dangerous that even many truck shops won't touch it.

Finally, although often time consuming and expensive, all trucks were sold with a clear and correct New Jersey title. Obtaining a valid military vehicle title can be a challenge, as discussed in depth on the linked page.

Sabotage and Other Problems Encountered

You cannot assume that the auction truck you are looking at has been well treated or that the description is accurate. Even with a personal, on-site inspection you can miss a lot. Joe tells it this way:

[Above] is the basic check list we used. Servicing was not limited to this list because of so many unforeseen factors that we'd find; like misaligned doors, missing alternators, missing wiper motors, and etc. We even had to deal with sabotaged trucks! One particular truck really looked good, but the transmission top had been taken off and the low/reverse slide gear was slid back out of the reach of the shifting fork. The cover was then replaced, but the truck was locked in reverse. All fuel lines were loosened and leaked like crazy. Wires were disconnected. There was more and I encountered others, plus broken crankshafts, ripped transmissions and/or transfer cases, torn-up winches, leaking radiators, missing battery box(es) and so on.

The message is quite simple: unless you a) know what you are doing, b) have the time, money and equipment, and c) can handle the risks, you are far better off to work through a well-recommended dealer than you are buying direct. Any money you think you are saving by direct purchase is probably an illusion.

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