Taking the plunge and buying a horsebox is a big investment. Before you part with your cash, here are 15 checks you should make to increase your chances of a satisfactory purchase

1. Always check oil levels, electrics and brakes, and that there’s water in the battery and radiator.

2. “A road test is always advisable as it shows the purchaser the lorry controls and driving positions,” says Jon Phillips of the Organisation of Horsebox and Trailer Owners (OHTO). “Major faults will also show up and be highlighted when it is driven.”

3. “Tyre pressures are also incredibly important — there should by law be at least 1.6mm of tread depth across the centre three-quarters of the width of the tread. And there must be no damage to the tyre body.”

4. Check the bodywork, cab floor and steps for rust.

5. Check the condition of the exhaust.

6. Search for rot and damp patches on the floor of the vehicle.

7. Make sure the ramp woodwork, hinges and balance springs are in good working order.

8. Ask to view the engine when it is cold to check how it starts.

9. Look out for oil leaks from the engine.

10. Does the oil light come on when the engine is started? If so, get it checked.

11. Check engine speed and smoke emission when stationary.

12. In the cab check gauges, lights, indicators, wipers, play of steering wheel, horn and warning lights.

13. Ensure the wiring for the lighting in the living area is working and that it runs from a separate battery from the mains.

14. Unless you specifically want an HGV, check the weight of the vehicle is not over 7.5tonne when fully laden with tack and horses, feed and passengers.

15. Jon also recommends a professional pre-purchase inspection. “I recently heard from a lady who had an inspection on a three-horse lorry,” he says. “She told the examiner that all she could find wrong was that the rubber around the driver’s door was a little frayed. The inspection showed, among many other items, that the body was attached to the chassis with just two bolts!”

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This article was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (17 July 2014)