Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A blue 2020 Chevy Silverado is shown from the side driving down an open road after leaving a used truck dealer.

Is a Used Truck Worth the Money?

Buying a used vehicle is often looked down upon in this day and age, when in reality, those who shop used may be the wisest shoppers among us. While they’re missing the new car smell and that factory-fresh upholstery, you’re nonetheless getting great value when you shop used. For the absolute most bang for your buck, consider visiting a used truck dealer near you and seeing what they have to offer. You might be surprised by what you can get.

Shopping used may not seem glamorous, but it sure is rewarding, depending on where you shop, of course. Find the right dealer, and you’ll get the best quality for the lowest price, not to mention fewer of those lesser-known drawbacks that can make shopping new a money pit for some drivers. If you’re on the hunt for a new vehicle and actually have to stick to a budget, you’ll need to accept the fact that your choices are limited. Then again, that doesn’t mean you can’t get what you want at a price you can afford. Here’s how shopping for a used truck offers the most for your money, even if you’ve never owned or considered owning a pickup.

The Used Difference

Shopping used is easily the most affordable way to shop. Not only do you get a discount for purchasing a vehicle that has miles on it and at least one previous owner, you save in other ways. Primarily, used vehicles retain their value far better than new ones do. The biggest reason for this is that new vehicles come with a level of perceived novelty, take the largest depreciation hit in their first couple years on the road, have a lack of mileage, and there is no previous owner to have worn through anything. Drive the vehicle off the lot, and this brand-new luster is gone; suddenly, its value has dipped, and it’s now a used vehicle. When you purchase a vehicle that’s already used, though, it retains its value and is more likely than a new vehicle to fetch a resale price down the road that’s similar to the price you initially paid for it.

Don’t forget, by the way, the numerous extra costs you rack up when you shop new. Not only do you lose more value faster on a new vehicle, but you also pay more fees up-front. There are numerous finance charges, taxes, credits, licensing fees, and other costs you pay in addition to a vehicle’s sticker price or the MSRP you read on a car manufacturer’s website. Sure, taxes are thrown in when you shop used, but there are fewer of them.

Plus, because many fees, like state sales and excise tax rates, are percentage-based (10% of a car’s purchase price, for instance). Buying a cheaper, used vehicle means paying a lower total tax price. Therefore, you save dividends and potentially make more back in resale/trade-ins than when you shop new. Buying a used pickup, meanwhile, has additional benefits.

A red 2020 Chevy Silverado is driving on an open road past mountains.

Why a Truck?

We’re not going to break down why having a truck is a good thing. Anyone who’s ever viewed a truck ad knows the deal: towing power, a tough vehicle, aggressive looks, a high-perched captain’s seat, and so on. But why should you consider buying a pickup truck if you’re shopping the used lot?

First of all, trucks are designed with extra-hardy engineering and enough power and durability to combat heavy weight and rough treatment. Sedans and other small passenger vehicles are designed for commuting you in comfort, but trucks are designed to take abuse and keep going. That means that even a truck with five figures of mileage and a previous owner still has quite a bit more fight left in it; several years’ worth. Recent editions have even more.

You’ll get even more longevity out of your pickup if it’s equipped with a diesel engine. Diesel engines designed for pickup trucks like the Chevy Silverado or Ford F-150 are incredibly long-lasting. They’re engineered with steadfast materials that resist damage from everyday use. For example, diesel engines don’t need spark plugs or wires like gas engines do, and these parts are particularly high maintenance. Fewer maintenance and parts fees, plus a longer-lasting design, make diesel engines extremely economical in the long term.

As for the potential drawbacks of driving a truck, the only consistent complaints from non-enthusiasts center around a smaller, less comfortable cabin. To that, we’d say that just about every pickup truck offers an extended cab edition that’s spacious enough for an entire family. A quality truck will perform like a smaller vehicle, too. For instance, a well-equipped Chevy Silverado will fare much better than a van or SUV at delivering fun, precision driving. Test drive a truck yourself, and you’ll see just how versatile they are, even if you don’t need to tow.

What About New Technology?

Dealerships who try to yank you by the collar out of the used lot and pressure you into shopping new may use some sweet language. They may tell you about the latest truck tech, features like an intelligent four-wheel drive navigation system, and heated seats that you can only get when you buy the latest release. Except that this is untrue. Shop for a used truck from 2017, 2018, or even sooner to get the latest-generation truck engineering, excellent fuel economy, and all the comfort and safety features you could want while still saving money.

Does this mean that you should avoid shopping for trucks that are greater than, say, five years old? No, you shouldn’t. Sure, you might get less technology and recently developed truck engineering the further back you shop, but guess what else you get in exchange? You save even more money. For the most part, the older and less equipped a pickup truck is, the cheaper it tends to be. In fact, many used car dealers have an inventory of trucks priced at under $10,000. You may get a more bare-bones product, but you still drive home a quality vehicle for a very low price.

A 2020 Chevy Silverado is driving off-road in the mountains.

The Best-Value Used Trucks

The world of pickup trucks is crowded, if not universally successful. There are a few truck brands it would be best to ignore, as well as some that are famous for a reason. We have a soft spot for the Chevy Silverado lineup. There are a few reasons we’d claim a Silverado to be one of the best used trucks for your money. First of all, the Silverado lineup is famous for its low-maintenance trucks designed to do more and last longer. When properly equipped, a Silverado provides best-in-class towing and payload power and essentials for shoppers who need the most power for a low price, including businesses looking for affordable commercial trucks.

Second, Silverados are popular enough that they’re sure to find their way into your local used truck dealer’s inventory. With so many different vehicles in the Silverado family, including the 1500, 2500HD, and 3500 HD, as well as multiple trims like the off-road LT Z71, bang-for-your-buck work truck, and luxurious High Country, there are so many types of Silverados to love. That means more to explore, more chances for you to get a great deal, and a higher chance of you finding the truck you want at the price you want. Find a Silverado optimized for off-roading, a simple work truck that’s affordable and capable, or a luxurious truck with recent, cutting-edge technology that’s still competitive by this year’s standards.

The Chevy Silverado family also delivers consistent, high-quality. While some trucks have had shaky starts and a few poorly received editions, Silverado is a solid, reliable model that’s well-received every year and generation since its inception. Any used Silverado truck tops our list of great-value vehicles for shoppers on a tighter budget. Just remember to check a vehicle’s history and shop wisely. Doing your research can save you more.