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Many motorists prize modern pickup trucks for their durability and reliability. Yet some of the same owners are hesitant to invest in a gently-used truck, with most of its life ahead of it. And automakers do not mind this: if we are convinced we need a brand-new truck to get the job done, they stand to make a lot more money.

How long can a pickup truck last?

According to Consumer Reports, “Modern pickup trucks, if soundly maintained, can stay on the road for 200,000 miles or longer.”

Vintage red Dodge pickup truck parked at a gas pump.
Dodge pickup truck | Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

But even if all pickup trucks were created equal, they have not been treated equally. How much life a used pickup truck has left may depend on the difficulty of the service it’s been pressed into.

Consumer Reports urged interested buyers to hire a mechanic to inspect a potential truck. Then it said this:

“Because trucks can often lead hard lives, make sure the mechanic looks for signs of extreme duty, such as off-roading or large-trailer towing. When buying from a private seller, ask how the truck was used and maintained.”

Consumer Reports

The latest and greatest in pickup trucks

Promo photo of a Ram 3500 pickup truck in a parking lot, a city skyline bellow.
2022 Ram 3500 | Stellantis

If “soundly maintained” pickup trucks can last for 200,000 miles, why don’t truck buyers all purchase used pickups? Because automakers sink an incredible amount of money into making their newest, shiniest truck appealing.

One way they do this is midcycle refreshes: years before re-engineering the drivetrain of each truck model, automakers often redesign its grille, other chrome, and sometimes its body panels. As soon as this all-new look hits the streets, “older” pickup trucks lose value.

Perhaps you can ignore the appeal of the shiny new truck. But automakers also offer more value with each new generation. And some of these add-ons really do change the driving experience. Perhaps you want Apple Carplay/Android Auto or maybe you’re shopping for a 10-way adjustable seat and sunroof. Many cushy options are rare on nonexistent on older trucks. But you can also upgrade a used truck with some of these features: seats are easily swapped and a car stereo shop can upgrade an older vehicle with a touchscreen head unit.

Some features make a real difference

A police officer examines the wreckage of a Ram 3500 pickup truck.
Wrecked Ram 3500 | John Ewing/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Some modern features make a difference in the cost of owning a truck. Others are important safety features.

Most modern pickup trucks with fuel-injected engines are much more fuel-efficient than the pickup trucks of yore. But some new features do still reduce fuel consumption even further. These include start/stop and mild-hybrid engine systems as well as eight and even ten-speed transmissions.

Other modern features are a matter of life and death. All pickup truck manufacturers have pledged to add automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection to every model by September 2022. With ever-larger truck blind spots, this is a critical safety feature.

Other new safety features include a lane departure warning and post-collision braking. In the right circumstances, a new pickup truck could be a real lifesaver.

So to sum it all up, a gently-used pickup truck–if properly inspected by a mechanic–could be an excellent investment. But for some pickup truck drivers, modern fuel efficiency and safety features make brand-new trucks a no-brainer.


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