The Best Used Diesel Pickup Trucks Under $20,000

Diesel pickups are known for their longevity and endurance. These vehicles were built to be worked hard, and they stand up to the task. With all that extra power and performance comes to a heftier price tag than a gas-powered option. Buying used is a great way to cut down the expense of a diesel truck. There are plenty of used diesel pickups that won’t break the bank.

Chevy Silverado 2500 HD pickup truck on display
Chevy Silverado 2500 HD | Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

2006 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD

The 2006 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD is equipped with a 6.6-L V8 Duramax engine that delivers 360 hp and is paired with a six-speed Alison transmission. There is also an 8.1-L option. This heavy-duty was designed for commercial use and heavy towing. Because it was built for work performance, passenger comfort was not a priority. This truck may ride stiff and bouncy, but it’s built to last. Lower-milage used Silverado 2500 HDs start around $15,000.

This truck gets average reliability ratings from Consumer Reports. Purchasing used has the added benefit of weeding out individual models prone to breakdown. Chances are if a truck is still running well after 15 years, it’s not going to break down any time soon. Owners ranked the truck well in satisfaction making this an affordable option that will make used shoppers glad they chose it.

This dependable workhorse does have a few problem spots to look out for. 2006 and 2007 Silverado owners should watch out for tie rods, steering shaft Pittman and idler arms. The independent front suspension needs to be watched for wear as well. This truck does not come equipped with a fuel lift pump standard. The Silverado 2500 HD is light on its feet and may struggle with stability when towing a heavy trailer. After-market tuning can put excessive wear on this truck’s transmission. An active detail exists for wiring components in the Silverado’s antilock brake system.

2009 Ram 2500

A white Ram 2500 pickup truck in display
Ram 2500 Raymond Boyd/Getty Image

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The 2009 Ram 2500 tops out at $15,000 in immaculate condition. This is an affordable work truck with a lot to offer. Unlike some heavy-duty trucks, the 2500’s suspension provides a smoother ride than many trucks in this class. Some models were sold with the family and crew-friendly mega cab, which provides more than 7 cubic feet of storage and plenty of room for passengers.

6.7-L Cummins powers this no-frills machine. The cab and interior are decidedly lacking in features and creature comforts. The austere interior is a small sacrifice for such a powerful truck at a low price. Regular maintenance is essential to keep this truck on the road. Cummins specifies cleaning soot from the EGR valve of this model every 67,000 miles to prevent build-up and failure.

2003 Ford F-250 Super Duty

A brown Ford F-250 Super Duty pickup truck
Ford F-250 Super Duty Mark Elias/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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The Ford F-250 Super Duty is a legend among reliable diesel workhorses. Typically, this truck will be priced higher than either the Silverado or the Ram. Buyers who pay the difference are rewarded with a reliable 7.3L Power Stroke that gets the job done, no matter what. This is a truck that can be depended on day after day, no matter the application. Many of them exceed 400,000 miles with proper maintenance. Finding a 2003 F-250 for under $20,000 isn’t rare for careful shoppers.

Like any vehicle, the F-250 Super Duty has its known bugs. Buyers will want to watch the Camshaft position sensor for signs of wear. Some of the most common issues with this truck are the aches and pains of old age. Body and frame rust, drying rubber parts, and worn joints can all rear their head on a high mileage truck. Knowing what to look for early can prevent expensive surprises later.