Is Buying a Used Diesel Truck Worth It?

There are plenty of reasons to buy a used diesel truck. They not only offer a serious amount of towing power but also have the potential to last for a seriously long time. But does that make buying a used diesel truck worth it? Let’s find out.

A 2011 Ford F250 diesel pickup truck being driven by a mountain range.
2011 Ford F250 Super Duty Power Stroke Diesel pickup truck. | Mark Elias/Bloomberg

Why you should consider buying a diesel truck

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Diesel pickups are known for a few things. For many pickup shoppers, though, the biggest benefit to buying a diesel truck comes down to towing power. Diesel engines tend to offer more torque, reports HowStuffWorks, making it easier for them to pull heavier loads. In fact, some heavy-duty diesel pickups boast maximum towing capacities that are upwards of 30,000-pounds. 

Is it better to buy a new or used diesel pickup?

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It all depends. While there are plenty of new diesel trucks on the market today, there’s no harm in considering a used diesel truck instead. In fact, choosing a used diesel pickup over a newer model could end up saving you a few bucks. After all, buying a new pickup truck isn’t the cheapest endeavor. 

Now, here’s for the tricky part. While buying a used diesel truck could save you money, finding the perfect used diesel truck for your needs will likely take some effort. Driving Line reports that the used diesel truck market is booming these days and is a mix of lightly used trucks to ones that might as well be scrapped altogether.

What you should look for when buying a used diesel truck

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If you’re shopping for a used diesel pickup, it’s important to understand what to look out for. CarsDirect recommends checking out the truck’s exhaust to see if there is an excessive build-up of soot. If there is, CarsDirect reports there could be an issue with the truck’s engine combustion or the exhaust itself. When the truck is on, take a gander at what color the exhaust coming from it is as well.

“A light black color is good, but if it is too thick, or has a white color, then there is a problem within the engine,” Cars Direct explains.

You’re going to want to take a look at the truck’s dipstick too. According to CarsDirect, if there is a milky substance on the stick, the engine may need to be replaced. Also, look under the used diesel pickup to see if oil is leaking. Don’t forget to check the truck’s radiator too. And rust? You’re going to want to keep an eye out for that.

Most importantly? Ask for the used diesel pickup’s service history. Driving Line explains, “Keeping detailed records shows that the previous owner truly cared about the truck—and if you want to unload the same truck one day it behooves you to continue adding your own receipts to the vehicle’s credible paper trail.”

What is a good mileage to buy a used diesel truck?

100,000 miles seen on an odometer
An automobile odometer with 100,000 miles shown. | Universal Education/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

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Let’s talk mileage. When it comes to buying a used diesel pickup, how many miles are too many? According to ProSource Diesel, Powerstroke, Cummins, and Duramax diesel trucks can last well beyond 100,000-miles. ProSource Diesel reports that it’s not all that uncommon to come across used diesel pickups with 200,000 or even 300,000-miles on the odometer either.

What’s important to keep in mind, ProSource Diesel explains, is that not all high-mileage used diesel trucks will be the same. “For example, a diesel pickup with 200,000 miles or more that has only had one or two owners and has good maintenance records is likely to be a better bet than a 100,000-mile truck with four owners and few records,” ProSource Diesel explains.

Is buying a used diesel pickup a good idea?

If you’re in the market for a used truck with a serious amount of towing power, buying a used diesel truck may be worth it for you. That’s assuming you find one in good condition that also fits your daily driving needs. But just to be sure? We recommend having a mechanic look at the used diesel pickup of your choice before finalizing your purchase.