Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

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Things to Consider When Buying a Used Truck…

There isn’t a single part of our geography where a truck isn’t being sold right now. There are brand new trucks being sold from Tallahassee to Tacoma and used truck for sale, Cincinnati to Sacramento.

Traditionally, I’m all about buying used, or ‘pre-owned’ (as opposed to new) vehicles. To be clear…I’m not talking about scoring myself a super-sweet 2007 Saturn. I just mean that I’m 100% behind picking up a ride that’s two or three years old, having allowed the previous owner to shoulder the lion’s share of depreciation.

Think about it this: you throw down $30,000 on a new vehicle. The immediate depreciation that occurs when you drive it off a lot, drops the value by approximately 11%, leaving it valued less than $27,000 within minutes of getting behind the wheel. After a year, it’s barely valued over $22 grand. After three years, it falls in closer to $17 grand.

Granted, if the vehicle is well-maintained you won’t score it for $17 grand, but even if you save five-to-ten thousand dollars, it might be enough to get you a higher trim level (or score some accessories). This sort of consideration is even more important if that used vehicle is a truck, as it could mean significant impact on your engine spec, output, payload and or towing capacity.

Regardless, congratulations on making a prudent financial choice.

Once you do find (what you believe to be) that perfect truck, there are a number of things you should keep in mind. Here are just a few:

The Goldilocks Test. Is it more truck, less truck or just enough truck based on what you need, and how you intend to use it? Not only does this include power, towing and hauling but drivetrain, fuel economy and even seating should be taken into consideration.

Ignore the aftermarket. More than ever, trucks have become show-pieces (even if they are used day in, and day out). With that in mind, it’s easy to become blinded by a new paint job or shiny accessories. Is it just a clever disguise?

If possible, get that vehicle onto a lift; and if you don’t have the experience and skillset to do it yourself, have someone reliable take look for surface and structural rusting, any leaks or noticeable damage, and inspect the brakes, drive shaft and steering.

That said, it becomes easy to fall into default mode an pick up an F-Series, a Silverado or even a RAM. The so-called ‘Big 3’ are so ingrained in our American psyches that it’s hard to side-step their iconic presence. That said, there are a number of commonly overlooked trucks, produced in recent model years, that are continually growing in popularity.  Take a look at this video, and you might get some ideas of offerings that you may not have previously considered, and let us know what you think.