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A close up of a white 2017 Chevy Silverado 1500 is shown.

Finding the Right Used Chevy Silverado

The Chevy Silverado has been one of America’s top-selling pick-ups for several generations. Up to 12 million new Silverados have been purchased off the lot, with many making their way back onto the resale market over the years. If you’re looking for a used Chevy Silverado, you can expect to find a wide range of different variations of this desirable truck available. Depending on your price range and capability requirements, there’s sure to be a Silverado waiting that’s ready to tackle the job. Here are some of the various ways this iconic truck has evolved through the generations and what drivers can hope to find in a used Silverado today.

Early Years of the Silverado

The original release of the Chevy Silverado was in August 1998, although the name had been in use by General Motors trucks as early as 1930. At first, only the regular cab and three-door extended cab were produced. Engine options included the Vortec 4300 V6, Vortec 4800 V8, and the Vortec 5300 V8. The 4300 V6 was the base engine developed for the 1978 Chevy Malibu. It was used in a variety of cars and trucks, but by 2014, it was eventually phased out.

The Vortec 4800 and 5300 V8s are LS-based small block engines that have remained popular in General Motors rear-wheel drive vehicles (including the Chevy Corvette). Their “clean sheet design” first came out in 1995 and is still in use today. These early light-duty trucks ushered in heavy-duty versions, which were produced a year later for the new millennium. Silverado 2500’s had a suspension package used for towing and a lighter composite box. More upgrades were to follow in the upcoming years, along with a slew of awards and accolades.

A white 1999 used Chevy Silverado 1500 is parked on a dirt trail with mountains in the distance.

In 2003, the Silverado SS was launched, using the same engine as the 2nd generation Cadillac Escalade. The 6.0 liter Vortec V8 was a high-output engine rated at 345 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque. Its design was based on the Silverado 1500’s extended cab with a fleetside box. Design upgrades to the interior and exterior helped to set it apart from previous models.

In 2005, a sunroof became available. By 2006, the all-wheel drive was discontinued, and rear-wheel drive became the sole option for the SS. Torsion bar style front suspension offered superior handling for drivers of the all-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive models of the SS during the early 2000s. With 20-inch aluminum wheels and an exclusive color pallet, the Silverado SS helped shaped Chevy’s reputation for stylish pick-ups.

The Next Generations That Followed

Most used Chevy Silverados being sold now probably fall into the second or third generation. The second generation ran from 2007-2014, bringing about aerodynamic changes to improve the truck’s fuel efficiency. In 2007, the second generation Silverado was named Motor Trend Magazine’s North American Truck of the Year. Two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations became available. Two-door regular cabs or four-door extended cab variations provided a range of options for truck-buyers at the time.

By 2008, manual transmissions were discontinued for the Silverado in the United States. 2009 models can be found with a high performance 6.2-liter V8 engine that produces 403 horsepower and 417 lb-ft of torque. A two-mode hybrid model was also introduced in 2009 with a powerful 6.0 liter V8 as well. Better technology and handling enhancements came along with the second generation, including features like an integrated trailer brake controller, trailer sway control, hill start assist, and Bluetooth. The Silverado continued to gain an advantage over other trucks being produced at the time.

A silver 2013 Chevy Silverado is parked at a farm while the sun sets in the distance.

Most models of the third generation (2014-2019) will include Chevrolet’s MyLink touchscreen. The Bluetooth capability enables hands-free telephone usage, and iPod or iPhones can be easily connected to the system. A Bose premium audio system with surround sound is also widely available and perfect for streaming Pandora Radio from Apple devices. For security, emergency assistance, and navigation, Chevy offers OnStar as a standard feature in several models. Silverado 1500’s in the third generation can also be found with three possible gas engine options, 4.3 liter EcoTec3 V6, 5.3 liter EcoTec3 V8, or a 6.2 liter EcoTec3 V8. Reviewing the specs of each can help you determine which configuration will provide your ideal balance of power and fuel efficiency, while still falling within your price range.

Used Silverados from 2015 and Beyond

The year 2015 offered many particularly desirable options on the Silverado, which would still make for a great find on the used truck market now. The Silverado 2500 and 3500 Heavy Duty versions came with high-end safety features that were not typically seen on this type of pick-up previously. With the Driver Assist Package, Silverado drivers could take advantage of adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, and lane departure warning systems. More USB ports, an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and a full-color reconfigurable LCD driver information center screen help bring these trucks up to speed with more luxurious trucks and SUVs being produced today.

Later years brought on more and more upgrades and improvements to the Silverado HD’s standard offerings. From 2017-2019, look for trucks equipped with the 6.6-liter turbo-diesel Duramax V8 engine. This impressive piece of machinery produces a maximum output of 445 horsepower, coupled with an astounding 910 lb-ft of torque. If you’re looking for a nostalgic Chevy Silverado, special edition models were released in 2018 to celebrate Chevy’s 100th anniversary of truck-making.

A silver 2018 Chevy Silverado, which is a common model among the used Chevy Silverado 1500's, is parked on a dirt road.

The Case for Buying Used

While the newest Chevy Silverados are certainly appealing, there’s a lot of value to be found in a used model. In a 2016 study by iSeeCars.com, the Chevy Silverado 2500 Heavy Duty was awarded second place out of the top ten longest-lasting vehicles. According to the study, 5.7% of Silverados had over 200,000 miles. Don’t let a Silverado with some years and miles behind it scare you away. There’s a good chance it has a lot of life left in it.

Of course, knowing what you’re getting into is important whenever purchasing a used vehicle. Do your research and buy from a reputable dealer that provides detailed vehicle history reports upfront. If in doubt, bring a mechanic with you to perform a thorough inspection and test drive before you decide on a fair price. Watch out for red flags like musty odors or rust, as these could be signs of more expensive damage hiding underneath. If the doors don’t seem to align properly when shut, the truck might have been through a frame-bending accident that can be tough to recover from. Because Chevy Silverados are built with high-strength steel, you’re less likely to find the types of bumps and dents you might expect to find on other used trucks.

Even if you’re considering a used truck with a storied history, you can extend its longevity with proper maintenance and care. Basic things like remembering to replace the brakes, change the oil, and keep the tires filled with air can go a long way towards protecting an older suspension system and engine. Instead of shelling out top dollar for a new truck, a pre-owned Silverado might be just the answer you’ve been looking for. Save money on price depreciation and get a great truck from an older generation.

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