Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A row of used trucks are shown with a focus on the grilles.

What to Look for in Used Trucks

Most of the time when you think about used vehicles, cars and SUVs are probably the first to come to mind. But did you know that there is a vast market for used trucks out there? That’s right. You don’t have to drop $60,000 on a brand new truck. You can find used trucks for half the price that will serve you wonderfully. In this article, we are going to share everything we know about used trucks, including what you can expect to find, what you should look for, and what to expect during the buying process.

The Price Difference

Now, don’t misunderstand. Used trucks are not cheap. Trucks, in general, are not cheap. Depending on the production year, make, model, and trim, some used trucks can run between $30,000 and $40,000. However, that is a far cry from the original sticker price that starts at $60,00 and goes up. The newer used trucks tend to run higher than older used models. If you don’t mind something over ten years old, you might be able to find a compact used truck for under $10,000. You just have to do some serious searching.

The Used Truck Market

If it has been sold, the chances of it reemerging onto the market as a used vehicle are always there. Sure, some people keep their trucks for a long time, but a lot of folks trade them back in for newer models too.

The most popular brands that you will see at dealerships include GMC, Chevrolet, Ford, and Ram. However, you might even find a few foreign used trucks from Toyota and Nissan as well. These tend to be cheaper than the American-made trucks.

One of the top used trucks to look for is the GMC Sierra 1500. You can find a great one from between $30,000 and $40,000 if you’re looking at models from 2016 and later. It’s always a good idea to look for a used truck that is still within the production years of the latest generation. This ensures that you are getting the latest technology and safety features available.

Other comparable used truck models besides the GMC Sierra 1500 are the Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Toyota Tundra, Ford F-150, Ram 1500, and the Chevrolet Silverado 2500.

A black 2018 GMC Sierra is parked in front of hills.

What’s the Difference Between 1500 and 2500 Models?

If you’re wondering what all of those numbers stand for, we will make it simple for you. Typically, used trucks with 2500 (or 250 in Ford’s case) in their names are heavy-duty models that were designed for extremely difficult jobs like construction and even agriculture. These are not generally used as family-friendly trucks to go camping in. Although, you certainly could use them for that if you wanted to. It would just be overkill.

Used trucks with 1500 in their names are the ones you would want to use for daily driving. These trucks are versatile, strong, and practical. You can take the kids to school, head to work, and enjoy a camping adventure on the weekends with no problem. There’s no overkill here! But don’t make the mistake of thinking that 1500 models are weak. They are not! Used trucks like the GMC Sierra 1500 are considered light-duty trucks, but they pack a punch. Generally, you can find used trucks like this one with different powertrains. From 4-cylinders to V6 and V8 engines to even diesel motors, the choices are seemingly endless. That makes the search for the perfect one so much more fun.

As for 2500 models, they usually have fewer powertrain options due to the sheer size and strength. In general, they are offered with an extremely powerful V8 gasoline or diesel engine.

A black and a white 2018 Chevy Silverado 2500HD are towing equipment side by side.

What Trim Level Should I Get?

Used trucks are similar to any other used vehicle in that they are also offered in many different trim levels. Most are available in four to six various trims, and each one is unique from the inside out.

If you are looking for a simple work truck with no frills, then we recommend trying to find a base model. These usually have easy-to-clean vinyl upholstery and rubber floors. If you track dirt or mud inside, you can hose it out with no problem. If you spill your coffee in the seat, no problem! Just wipe it up. The type of safety and infotainment systems included in these models will vary greatly depending on the make and the production year. Newer used trucks may have Bluetooth connectivity, but older models will most likely just feature AM/FM radio, a CD player, and perhaps an auxiliary jack.

Mid-level trims are what you should look for if you want to go with the most popular version. Because these used trucks tend to be well-equipped with the perfect balance of technology, a lot of people like them for their family. Newer models may even have touchscreen interfaces and compatibility with advanced features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Better safety systems and packages can also be found on these mid-level trims.

If you love off-roading, then you should set out on a search to find an off-roading trim. These usually come with a 4WD drivetrain, heavy-duty shock absorbers, protective skid plates, recovery tow hooks, unique exterior styling elements, larger wheels, and all-terrain tires. They tend to have a more aggressive look as well, which is something a lot of people like. Keep in mind that you will need to inspect it more thoroughly than others simply because its former owners might have taken it off-roading at some point.

Some brands also have sportier trim levels available. Again, trims depend on the make, model, and production year, so the sporty trim offerings will vary greatly in the used truck market. Most people don’t look for a sporty used truck, but they do exist if you really want one.

Finally, there are luxury used trucks out there. You read that right. You can find luxury used trucks at most dealerships. These models are known for having premium leather upholstery, unique badging, chrome exterior accents, larger wheels, and the most advanced tech and safety features. If you are looking for something that will turn heads, a luxury used truck is the way to go. They are usually better as far as normal wear and tear goes. Someone spent a lot of money to buy it new, so you can bet that they probably took very good care of it.

Buying a Used Truck

Before you sign the paperwork for your new used truck, you need to ask for a vehicle history report. This is especially true for trucks. These vehicles have probably seen a lot more heavy usage than your average car or SUV. We’d even go so far as to recommend having a third-party inspection performed on the pre-owned truck. This will give you a better idea of what kind of repairs you can expect to make within the first year. Also, always take the truck you’re interested in out for a test drive before you seal the deal. Not only will this give you a feel for the vehicle, but it will also allow you to listen for any mechanical issues that may be present.