Buying a used truck can save you a whole lot of money. Buying the wrong used truck, though, can cause you difficulties and extra expenses. There are a few things to keep an eye out for when going car buying for a used truck, and here are a few tips that will help save you from future headaches.
Checking a truck’s history
There are several ways to check on a used truck’s or car’s previous history. Dealerships have access to paid sites like CARFAX, AutoCheck, and autoDNA.com. There are also free sites that anyone can use, according to Clark, including the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), VehicleHistory.com, and iSeeCars.com/VIN. These sites use a vehicle’s VIN to look at state registrations, the type of title, and any insurance claims after an accident.
What to avoid in a used truck
Buyers should request a vehicle’s history before buying a used vehicle, but used trucks in particular sometimes have lived a hard life and need extra examination beyond the history report. Wide Open Roads points out that trucks are often used for tasks like “towing, hauling, or just working hard.” To avoid buying a used truck that’s already lived a full lifetime in a few short years, there are a few questions to ask about a truck’s history.
- Commercial fleet use: Avoid pickups that were part of a commercial fleet. Wide Open Roads called this the “biggest red flag.” These trucks are used in tough conditions and do a lot of idling.
- Lots of accessories: It’s also a good idea to avoid trucks with lots of aftermarket accessories. These do personalize a vehicle, but they don’t usually add value and are sometimes poorly installed. Wide Open Roads recommends looking for crimp-style connectors, which aren’t great work.
- Off-road use and abuse: Buyers expect four-wheel-drive models to have gotten some off-road experience. To make sure those off-road experiences haven’t damaged the truck, look first for doors that don’t open or close smoothly or a “crooked bed gap,” says Wide Open Roads. Buyers can also look over the suspension, tires, and frame and body mount areas.
- Too much towing: Another area of abuse is caused by towing too much, which can damage the transmission. While it’s best to get this information from the seller, buyers can look for “excessive wear or rust around the trailer hitch, dented rear bumper or tailgate, and worn wiring harnesses,” recommends Wide Open Roads.
- Corrosion and rot: Age and the environment can cause a truck’s metal to corrode and rot. Check less noticeable spots like between the bed and the cab or behind the seats. Also, jump in the bed to see how the springs feel.
Advice for buying
Especially for high-mileage pickups, it’s great if the owner has a record of maintenance, including sometimes receipts. Then, even if the truck has experienced some tough use, the owner has proof that the truck has been well cared for.
If a previous owner had major repairs done without paying through insurance, then a truck could have had lots of repairs without anything coming up in the vehicle history. Have a certified mechanic check over the vehicle before buying it to see if he or she notices any problems. If you’ve put down a deposit on the truck, make sure the owner puts in writing that the deposit will be returned if you change your mind after the mechanic’s inspection. Having a mechanic inspect the vehicle can also help buyers avoid trucks that were flooded in a hurricane or other disaster and then had their titles modified in a different state.
A used pickup truck can be a great option and a good way to get more pickup for less money. However, it’s helpful to follow the advice of experienced buyers to avoid accidentally getting a bad deal.