Selecting truck bodies and cranes – a veritable minefield

It is extremely important to ensure that you select a good truck bodybuilder when buying your next truck, says VIC OLIVER

As most truck manufacturers assemble and deliver their trucks to their sales outlets in the form of a chassis and cab without the fitment of a truckbody, it becomes the dealer’s and customer’s choice as to the selection of the bodybuilder. Most often the choice of which body builder to use is left entirely up to the truck salesperson at the dealership.

In South Africa a truck salesperson has a wide range of truck bodybuilders to choose from, all of which are competent and capable of building and mounting truck bodies. A number of them manufacture good quality truck bodies and comply with the correct body mounting instructions and procedures that are stipulated by the truck manufacturer, but these are usually more costly.

Truck salespeople are reluctant to lose an order simply because their bottom line price, which includes the truck body quotation, is too high. They therefore decide on the body builder who quotes the lowest price, but, often this is because the inferior design and quality of workmanship is poor.

A truck body is an integral part of the vehicle and the truck cannot function correctly when the body is faulty. You, as the buyer, need to ensure that you are involved in the decision-making process regarding the selection of a bodybuilder. Assess and inspect the design and build quality of the selected truck bodybuilder before signing the final offer to purchase your new commercial vehicle.

As the buyer, you should also verify that the bodybuilder has a valid homologation certificate to manufacture the type of body that you are ordering. Another safeguard that is crucial is to insist that the body being mounted onto your new chassis and cab is done so strictly in accordance with the vehicle manufacturer’s body mounting instructions.

Once you and the dealer have selected the body builder, set up an appointment to visit the organisation, along with the truck salesperson, during the bodybuilding and mounting stage. This will allow you the opportunity of inspecting the build progress and to make any minor changes to the body if necessary.

The same good practice and procedures are recommended when buying a truck-mounted crane. Although crane manufacturers and suppliers in South Africa have a first-rate, untarnished reputation for supplying good quality equipment, it is important to ensure that the model chosen is suitable for your needs and that the crane is mounted correctly to the truck chassis.

It is vital that the crane sub-frame is placed on top of the truck chassis and designed and mounted strictly in accordance with the truck manufacturer’s body and equipment mounting procedure. Fitting the incorrect sub-frame can lead to serious and expensive truck chassis damage.

The new truck that you buy is built and designed to durable high quality standards, so it would be unwise to jeopardise the vehicle’s durability by fitting low quality bodies and equipment.

Remember that the resale value of your new vehicle will also be negatively affected by having fitted inferior quality equipment.


One of this country’s most respected commercial vehicle industry authorities, VIC OLIVER has been in this industry for 45 years. Before joining the FOCUS team, he spent 15 years with Nissan Diesel, 11 years with Busaf and seven years with International.

Published by

Focus on Transport

FOCUS on Transport and Logistics is the oldest and most respected transport and logistics publication in southern Africa.
After the 2010 World Cup
Prev After the 2010 World Cup
Next Market recovers in 2010