What You Really Need to Know Before Buying a Used Pickup Truck

Buying a used pickup truck can easily be one of the smartest decisions you make, but you need to know what to look for in a used truck. If you’ve never driven a truck, find a friend with one and ask if you can get behind the wheel for a little bit. Pickups are bigger than most SUVs and cars, and driving them feels different, but mostly in a good way.

The benefits of buying a used pickup truck are incredible

This 2016 Chevrolet Colorado is one of the best used pickup trucks you can buy
The 2016 Chevrolet Colorado is a Great Used Pickup Truck to Buy | Chevrolet

Some experts will tell you to avoid buying used cars and small SUVs, but not trucks. Pickups are made to last longer than cars and take the abuse of the wilderness, towing, and hauling. According to Consumer Reports, some of the most important benefits of buying a used truck are:

  • Used trucks are cheaper
  • More options (the used market is about three times that of the new market)
  • Avoid the initial depreciation
  • A certified pre-owned truck comes with a warranty
  • Lower insurance costs
  • Longer expected life (most trucks last 200,000 miles or more)

How should you go about buying a used truck?

A gray 2020 Toyota Tundra kicking up dirt.
2020 Toyota Tundra | Toyota

No matter the vehicle, the steps you need to take when buying a used model, are the same. There might be a few variations based on whether you buy from a dealer or a private seller, but most of the steps are identical. Consumer Affairs offers these steps for this process:

  • Set a budget
  • Figure out which truck you want to buy
  • Research various models
  • Start searching locally and expand as needed
  • Check the vehicle history report
  • Take the truck for a test drive
  • Secure the financing
  • Negotiate the price
  • Drive your recently purchased truck home

Which used trucks should you avoid?

The best used Chevy Silverado pickup truck years
The 2014 Chevy Silverado pickup truck at the Annual Chicago Auto Show | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Unsure where to start your search for your used pickup truck? MyValuCar offers a good place to begin with a few models to avoid. This could quickly bring your list of trucks down a little. It’s a good idea to gather information from various sources, but you may come to the same conclusion about these trucks. The five trucks you want to avoid are:

  • 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500
  • 2012 Ram 2500HD
  • 2008 Nissan Frontier
  • 2016 Toyota Tacoma
  • 2010 Ford F-150

Thankfully, we also find five used pickup trucks that might go at the top of your list, which are:

  • 2014 Dodge Ram 1500
  • 2013 Ford F-150
  • 2016 Chevrolet Colorado
  • 2017 Nissan Frontier
  • 2015 Toyota Tacoma

Some added advice when buying a used truck

You can’t have too much information during this process. A few added tips from MyValuCar that could be useful in your car buying experience are:

  • Have a mechanic perform a pre-purchase inspection
  • Try all equipment during your test drive
  • Ask for service records
  • Run a title check on the vehicle
  • Evaluate your needs: towing, seating, features

How old of a used pickup truck should you buy?

The features you want help to determine the age of the truck you want to buy. If you want the latest tech, you’ll want to stick to a pickup no more than two to three years old. Used Trucks tells us the sweet spot is about five years old. This is the age at which depreciation has slowed, and the truck has proven useful. If you don’t mind features that are a little older, you’ll find some great deals with pickups that are five years old or older.

How many miles is too high for a used truck?

The number of miles you can accept for a used pickup truck depends on how many miles you typically drive and the type of truck you want to buy. If you’re buying a truck with a diesel engine, higher miles on the odometer aren’t a problem. Typically, you want to buy a truck with 100,000 miles or fewer. If you drive the truck for work and put a lot of miles on it, you might need to consider a newer model with fewer miles.

Check out the next article for a few more ideas on the right used trucks to buy.

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