3/12/2021  George R. Lee


Let’s Talk Bucket Trucks

If you are in the market for a bucket truck, there are some questions you want to ask yourself before starting your search. Below are some matters for pondering and comments for thought before making your bucket truck purchase:

  • What height do I want my bucket truck to reach?
  • Do I want a single man or two-man bucket?
  • Does it matter to me whether it has 2 outriggers or 4?
  • Am I looking for a "forestry style" unit, mounted behind the cab, center mount, or rear mount style?
  • What are the pros and or cons of each style aerial unit I buy?
  • What brands of aerial units and model of trucks works best for me?
  • Which do I prefer in boom functions: non over-center or over-center, pistol grip or multi lever controls?
  • Is a telescopic feature a must for me?
  • Can I get what I want under CDL, or does it matter to me?
  • Do I want an Automatic transmission or manual?
  • Gas or diesel?
  • Does horsepower matter or is the real goal gear ratio and torque?
  • Will I want a cab guard, storage boxes, and other "add-ons"?


After compiling and answering your "wish list" the next question to tackle is do I buy new or used?

Can I afford new and justify the cost?


My financial position nor my business goals afford me to buy new at this time so where do I go for used trucks? Dealers of general truck sales, specialized bucket truck dealers, private owners, or other sources?

If your decision is to go ahead with a new unit purchase the next step is to find a dealer you want to work with and who will make your best deal. Although buying new may not always turn out the way you'd hoped for, buying new has many benefits which should include a solid based no-nonsense warranty on both the truck and the aerial device. Otherwise, if you are seeking a reliable used unit you may want to do a little more prep work before making your purchase. These are some questions you may want to ask before buying a used bucket truck:

  • Was this unit previously used in the tree care industry or not? Let's face it: tree guys are rough on equipment.
  • Has the aerial unit been serviced and to what level?
  • Has the truck been serviced and again to what level?
  • Does the boom have the correct die-electric paint on it and has it been tested and certified?
  • Is the value there in buying used verses new?


At BTS Equipment we work daily to improve the performance of the used trucks we sell but we are the first to state, "these are used units". If you are just buying a pretty paint job you may be disappointed down the road.

And finally let’s talk about expectations. Whether new or used, you can and should expect some breakdowns and flaws especially for those using these trucks in the tree care industry. Hydraulic lines break at any time and for numerous reasons. Air gets into control lines and all you can do is fix and go on. A tire goes flat and you simply fix it, right? Bucket trucks take tremendous use and often abuse. If you are an owner operator you may fare better with your experience. But once you start having others operate your bucket truck, I would suggest you can look forward to increased service needs.

Bucket Trucks are great assets in the tree care industry. There is perhaps no one perfect fit for everyone. Do your homework!

Author: Article and opinion presented by George R. Lee Owner and President of BTS Equipment in Romeo , MI.