When you buy a vocational truck, you’re not just buying a truck chassis—you’re also investing in a truck body specific to your application. Whether that’s a dump, roll-off, crane, mixer, hydrovac or something else entirely, you need the truck and body to fit together seamlessly, and you want the installation process to be fast and easy. The key to success, our Cat® Truck experts say, lies in the specing process. Here’s their advice for getting it done right:
Q. When in the truck buying process should I start specing for a body?
A. Right from the beginning. Many truck specs are body-driven, so you’ll get a better quote if you provide information about the type of body you need upfront. Get your dealer and body builder together and have a conversation about your application, jobsite, material, etc. as part of the quote process—and definitely before you place your truck order.
Q. What are the most important specs I should consider when adding a truck body?
A. The exact specs will vary depending on the type of body, but cab-to-axle (CA) length, weight and axle ratings, frame height, axle spread, transmission type and horsepower are critical. You’ll also need a good understanding of local bridge laws—that may dictate certain specs for you.
Q. What are some common mistakes to avoid when specing for a truck body?
A. The #1 mistake is lack of communication. The process will go much more smoothly if you, your body builder and your dealer work together from the start. Another mistake is not having all the required information during the specing process. Be vocal about what you need, and make sure your body builder provides clear direction as well.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask your dealer about special features or custom designs. On the Cat Truck, we offer options that make it easier to install certain bodies, and we have a special quoting process if you want to build a more custom truck. If we know what you want, there’s a good chance we can accommodate it. Again, it all comes back to communication.
Q. What’s my responsibility in the specing process—and what roles do my body builder and dealer play?
A. Your job is to explain your application needs and expectations as clearly and fully as possible, as soon as possible. Also, if you have a body builder you want to work with, tell your dealer. If they’re not already acquainted, put them in touch right away.
Your body builder’s job is similar—to communicate needs and expectations. He should provide detailed requirements on what it takes to outfit the selected body onto your chassis.
Your dealer’s job is to facilitate and own the process—to get the necessary information from you and your body builder, place the order accurately and ensure the truck is built to the right specs.
Q. Are there any other resources I can turn to?
If you already have a body builder you’re planning to work with, be sure to send them to the new body builder page on drivecat.com. It has information on working with Caterpillar and Cat dealers, plus a link to download the Cat Truck Body Builder Manual. If you don’t have a body builder in mind, your Cat dealer can help you find one. The NTEA, the Association for the Work Truck Industry, is another good resource.
As always, the best thing you can do is work closely with your Cat dealer. Your dealer has the expertise and relationships to make sure you get the truck and body you need for the job at hand.