Old chassis, new body upfit: Knapheide 6108D54H60 9' steel utility body on 2005 Ford F550 4x4 crew cab (existing body removed before arrival at Levan, a Knapheide distributor)

Gone are the days of ample chassis inventory. And, with lead times continuing to lag, you may have started toying with the idea of upfitting your old chassis with a new body.

“This is something that has become much more common, given the state of the marketplace and industry,” Tim Marks, New Truck Install Manager at Levan Machine and Truck Equipment, said. “The challenges of new chassis availability are prompting people to extend the functional life of their used vehicles, in hopes that new chassis will become more [readily] available in the future.”

It’s probably crossed your mind if your chassis is still in decent operating condition, as far as you can tell, and the wait times are longer than you’d like or can accommodate. Maybe it’s because your work truck or van body is damaged, too big or small for your current need or is simply showing its age. Whatever the reason, the result remains the same. You need a new work vehicle solution and the sooner you can start using it, the better.

But, unfortunately, while the option of upfitting your old chassis with a new body may be a fix for one problem, the solution presents challenges of its own, especially for those with chassis older than seven years. So, before making the decision to update over upgrade, take a look below at four important factors to consider.

Condition of the Vehicle

Before you start the process of even potentially getting your old chassis upfit with a new body, assess the condition of your vehicle and whether or not it’s meeting your current needs.

Questions to Ask Yourself:

Are there any problems that will need fixed?

“We have found a majority of times, when the old chassis is being upfit with a new body, the chassis will often need repairs,” Marks said. “This will be the most opportune time to take care of those repairs.”

If your chassis was previously upfit, were there any modifications made that might impact your new upfit?

And, do you have enough payload capacity/will you after installing a new, and possibly different, body?

Integration and Compatibility

Even the most experienced upfitters find electrical system integrations and complex integrations (of things like power lock modules) challenging when upfitting older chassis, not to mention the uphill battle of finding compatible mounting kits. Sometimes upfitters will get lucky, finding older mounting kits that line up well, but are often left with kits that require modification to work.

With an increased focus on quality and limited modifications in many shops, you’ll need to keep in mind the limitations of using your older chassis for upfits when it comes to body types and features.

Finding a Qualified (and Willing) Shop

“In general, the technology of chassis and truck equipment alike has advanced leaps and bounds over the last decade. We have all grown accustomed to today’s practices and today’s technology,” Marks said. “Gone are the days where you needed a welder/grinder/torch to install a new body on a new chassis. When working with a new body and an old chassis, there is often a need for some custom fabrication with welders/torches, etc. This requires a different skillset that not all shops are proficient in.”

And Last, But Most Certainly Not Least, Cost

One of the potential perks of upfitting an old chassis with a new body is that you’re not stuck paying for a new chassis. But, while you may not be paying for the cost of the chassis as part of the upfit, it may cost you more overall when you consider the above factors, like repairs to the chassis, special brackets or parts and additional installation time.

After seeing the total, you’ll want to take it a step further and calculate the projected life cost. While the total today may be cheaper, are you really getting the best bang for your buck over the lifespan of your upfit?

Regardless of whether you decide to update or upgrade your work vehicle, Knapheide and its distributor network are here to make it happen.

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